WEDNESDAY 19TH JANUARY, 2022
LEICESTER CITY 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(1)
Bergwijn, 90(+5), 90(+7)
Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Marc Perry, Timothy Wood
Fourth official:- Robert Jones
VAR:- Simon Hooper
Assistant VAR:- Mark Scholes.
Leicester (3-4-1-2):- Schmeichel (Capt.); Choudhury, Soyuncu, Vestergaard; Albrighton, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall (sub Soumare, 88), Thomas (sub Justin, 53); Maddison; Daka (sub Barnes, 75), Lookman
Subs not used:- Ward, Jakupovic (GKs); Daley-Campbell; McAteer, Brunt; Perez
Booked:- Choudhury (foul on Kane)
Spurs (3-5-2):- Lloris (Capt.); Tanganga, Sanchez, Davies; Emerson Royal (sub Doherty, 46), Skipp, Hojbjerg, Winks (sub Lo Celso, 74), Reguilon (sub Bergwijn, 79); Kane, Lucas Moura
Subs not used:- Gollini; Rodon, Sessegnon; Gil, Dele; Scarlett
Booked:- Sanchez (foul on Lookman), Bergwijn (Unsporting conduct)
Bergwijn gives us an Ajax moment
Football, eh? In an absolute demonstration of how live sport sometimes offers the greatest drama, Spurs’ third substitute scored not one, but two goals in added time. Until then it looked as if Spurs were slipping to a defeat which would have belied the statistics in terms of possession, shots on goal and on target. This report could have had any of three introductions. One would have told of a disastrous defeat; the second would relate to a draw snatched at the death, but this is a report of an Ajax-type miracle provided with almost the last kick of the game by Steven Bergwijn, who hadn't played since Boxing Day and who had yet to scorea Premier League goal this season. Now he has just three less than Harry Kane, who also scored, but provided the excellent pass which enabled Bergwijn’s winner leading to scenes among the away fans.
My preview told of rumours that this game might be postponed, but although they do have almost the equivalent of a first team missing (no Covid case among them), Brendan Rodgers was able to field a side of regular first team players although his bench included two goalkeepers and several youngsters. Spurs were without key players themselves of course, in the shape of Eric Dier, Cristian Romero and Son. Ben Davies was making his 250th club appearance. Tanguy Ndombele was absent from the squad completely.
Spurs kicked off, playing away from their fans and dominated the early possession of a game that would become high-energy end-to-end football. Spurs also had supremacy in terms of corners and the first of these was won by Kane and taken by Sergio Reguilon who had been absent since New Year’s Day. Conte played Skipp, Hojberg and Winks between the wing-backs. Oliver Skipp in particular was getting forward in support of the front two, but that could be said about Hojbjerg too.
Leicester had a dangerous cross that passed through the Spurs area after 4 minutes. Hojbjerg fed a short ball to Kane inside the box on the left and Kane’s left foot shot was either cleared off the line or might even have hit the far post. After Choudhury (a makeshift centre-back) fouled Reguilon just outside the area, Kane’s free kick was blocked by the wall. In another move Kane and Reguilon exchanged passes before Kane’s shot ran easily to Schmeichel. Spurs had a couple more corners in succession from the second of which Kane headed over.
After a pass by Hojbjerg to Kane, Harry moved the ball to Skipp to his right. Ollie’s shot took a deflection and Spurs had another corner. That one was from the right, but we soon had one from the other side, taken by Winks and headed against the bar by Kane. We really should have had a goal from these early chances.
Lucas Moura had a right foot shot well saved, after he had worked his way left to right along the edge of the box. After this corner, taken by Reguilon, Sanchez headed into the side netting when he really should have scored. Against the run of play Leicester took the lead after Dewsbury-Hall got the bye-line on the left and crossed to the near post, where, after a touch by Lookman, Daka scored with a low shot past Lloris.
Hojbjerg had a cross from the left held by Schmeichel and after a bad backward pass by Tanganga, Sanchez rescued Spurs with a part clearance. However, Leicester soon came back and Lloris had to dive to his left to push away a shot by Maddison. Chants of “We want Levy out” could clearly be heard in the Spurs section, voicing their frustration at a lack of investment in their new manager so far in this transfer window.
Lucas Moura was blocked when he received a nice ball to the middle of the Leicester area, but the ball ran to Hojbjerg, whose shot was cleared off the line by Albrighton. Spurs scored a deserved equaliser in the 38th minute. Winks lifted a nice ball into the Leicester half and Kane timed his run nicely to leave Soyuncu standing, scoring with a left foot shot across the keeper going into goal off the far post. This was described as Harry’s 250th club goal, but that figure must include friendlies. It was the 18th goal he has scored against Leicester in 17 games! (Declan Mulcahy tells me the 250 (all competitive) is made up as follows:- Tottenham Hotspur 234, and Millwall 9, Leyton Orient 5 and Leicester City 2 during loan spells away from Spurs.)
Lucas sent Kane away with another nice pass, but Harry leaned back and skied this shot. He also hit another right foot shot comfortably into Schmeichel’s hands.
Matt Doherty was a straight replacement for Emerson at half time and immediately was involved positively in a couple of Spurs attacks. In the second, he hit a long cross which reached Reguilon, whose shot was blocked and won a corner, taken by Winks. This was punched away by Schmeichel and Hojbjerg hit a poor shot.
Kane lost, then regained possession, taking the ball forward before hitting a 22 yard shot over the target. Leicester replaced Thomas with Justin who was welcomed with a standing ovation, having been absent for 11 months through injury.
After a poor clearance, Kane picked up the ball and passed to Hojbjerg who was just inside the box. The ball ran to Doherty who hit a left foot shot wide of the far post. Leicester countered and Lloris had to make a strong save from Maddison’s shot. A free kick by Maddison (after a foul by Sanchez on Lookman) was headed out by Lucas but collected by Tielemans who fired over.
Skipp and Doherty exchanged passes before Skipp hit another shot wide. Lucas and Kane provided passes in a move which gave the advancing Tanganga a shot from 25 yards. This was well saved by Schmeichel. At the other end Lloris needed treatment after coming out for a long free kick by Maddison. Hugo seemed to have been winded but recovered.
Reguilon had a shot saved inside his right post by the Leicester keeper. Kane took a pass from Winks and hit an early shot from 25 yards which was over the target. In all, Kane had 10 attempts, three of which were on target, including his goal.
Harry Winks was the next Spurs player to be substituted (by Lo Celso) and I felt Spurs started to lose a bit of fizz, as Hojbjerg and Skipp might have fallen back a little. Spurs certainly lost parity when Maddison gave Leicester the lead after taking a clever reverse pass from Harvey Barnes whose assist came within 48 seconds of his entry onto the field of play. Maddison’s shot took a slight deflection (off Tanganga) to beat Lloris.
The happy clappers of Leicester began to taunt Spurs, but of course our fans would dramatically have the last laugh.
Doherty was involved positively again, combining with Kane before hitting a shot which was saved. Now Bergwijn replaced Reguilon, not that we saw much of him before added time. Leicester were starting to manage the time and the closing stages well, although Schmeichel had to make an important save when Lucas crossed the ball. Between them, Sanchez and Hojbjerg blocked and cleared a shot by Barnes, and we entered an indicated 5 minutes of added time.
Spurs pressed but got no reward. Bergwijn was frustrated when he got no penalty when going to ground in the box but was booked for pushing Soyuncu. We were into that added time and in the fifth such minute, Hojbjerg hit a good pass to Doherty who got into the centre of the box, falling down when challenged. The ball rolled to Bergwijn who smacked it into the net.
The drama was not over. I think it was Hojbjerg again who hit a good pass from the Spurs half to Kane, whose pass for Bergwijn was perfect as Steven had the legs to beat Soyuncu, round Schmeichel, then score off the far post with his right foot shot across the goal. The scenes were reminiscent of those in Amsterdam nearly three years when Lucas Moura had completed his fantastic hat-trick. The Spurs crowd was in the corner, and Bergwijn literally jumped into the crowd. Leicester were as crestfallen as had been those Ajax players.
Antonio Conte joined in the celebrations of an amazing win which has taken us above Arsenal into fifth place, only one point behind West Ham with three games in hand. Our joy has to be tempered though by the knowledge that our next game is at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. You have to have a dream though don’t you? Captain Sensible sang that in “Happy Talk”.
The win concluded a happy day for me personally, as I have been isolating after a positive Covid test last Friday. I had a negative test today, and a second tomorrow will allow me to step out again!
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