Lloris’ spot-kick save helps Spurs overcome unlucky Foxes
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Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 3 Leicester City 1
Tottenham Hotspur made it four consecutive wins in the Premier League with a tense 3-1 victory over Leicester City at Wembley Stadium this afternoon.
It was far from straightforward, like usual for Spurs currently, but Mauricio Pochettino’s team got the job done in the end.
Goals from Davinson Sanchez, Christian Eriksen and Heung-min Son secured another win in the league, but Hugo Lloris was the real difference with a pivotal penalty save from substitute Jamie Vardy with the score only 1-0 to the Lilywhites.
Pochettino made just three changes to the team which eventually overcame Newcastle United last Saturday.
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Toby Alderweireld and Lucas Moura dropped to the bench, while Erik Lamela missed out with a minor back injury.
Replacing the aforementioned trio were Danny Rose, Oliver Skipp and recent starter Fernando Llorente.
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It was only Skipp’s second start in the Premier League and a big show of faith in the teenager from Pochettino.
Spurs also received a boost when the Leicester team was announced as Vardy was only among the replacements alongside Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson.
While the attendance at Wembley was again capped at 51,000, there seemed a decent number of fans present and the atmosphere was fairly buoyant before kick-off.
Tottenham only needed three minutes to create the first chance of the match playing in a 4-3-1-2 formation.
Harry Winks got out of a tight possession well and the ball eventually came for Rose, who crossed in for Kieran Trippier, but his shot was blocked behind for a corner.
Leicester survived the set-piece and threatened from one of their own with eight on the clock as James Maddison found Harry Maguire at the back post, but Lloris tipped his header over.
Jonny Evans nodded the resulting corner over and the Foxes threatened again in the ninth minute.
Spurs gave the ball away cheaply and Maddison spotted Harvey Barnes in between Trippier and Sanchez.
The former Norwich City youngster found his team-mate and Barnes held off Trippier to get into the area, but with the goal whites in sight he fired wide.
It was a let-off for the Lilywhites, who were cut open in worryingly easy fashion and it added to the tension growing under the arch in Brent.
Six minutes later and the irrational of the home fans increased when Son went down inside the area and received a booking for simulation.
Chances began to occur more frequently after and in the 18th minute Llorente linked up well with Son and the South Korean found Rose out on the left in space.
Rose cut inside Ricardo Pereira smartly and forced Foxes captain Kasper Schmeichel into a decent save.
The ball rebounded for Llorente and he hesitated a touch, with Eriksen in close proximity, before the Spaniard awkwardly diverted wide from seven-yards.
Left-back Rose went into the book of referee Michael Oliver two minutes later for a foul on Rachid Ghezzal before Leicester threatened again in the 21st minute.
Trippier was caught slightly out of position once more and Barnes got to the byline and cut back for Maddison, yet he could only curl well wide of Lloris’ goal.
While there was understandable anticipation whenever Son got on the ball, when the visitors attacked a fear seemed to engulf the home supporters.
Oliver’s card-happy start to the game continued when he booked Jan Vertonghen in the 28th minute for a foul on Chilwell.
Then Leicester carved open Tottenham again down the right-side, this time with 31 on the clock at Wembley.
With Trippier high up the pitch, Moussa Sissoko failed to track Barnes’ run and Chilwell passed into his path, and the young attacker cut inside, but again failed to test Lloris from inside the area.
It was a fantastic opportunity for Claude Puel’s men and with just over half an hour played at the national stadium, they would have been wondering how they were still level.
Two minutes later and things got worse for them as Spurs showed the East Midlands side the benefits of having a fox in the box.
A corner from Trippier was smartly played short to Eriksen, unmarked on the edge of the area, and the Dane delivered a wonderful cross where Sanchez headed home from close range.
It was an unlikely goalscorer and the Colombian’s first goal for the club, but the hosts would have been delighted.
Leicester had certainly enjoyed the better chances and play during the first 33 minutes and yet they now trailed at Wembley.
The opening goal of the game seemed to knock the Foxes as the remaining 12 minutes of the half went by with little to note except for Spurs now looking to have more of a spring in their step.
At the end of the 45 two minutes of additional time were added on and with seconds left some sloppiness from Tottenham almost resulted in a Leicester leveller.
Youri Tielemans attempted an ambitious cross from near the corner flag and it looked easy for Lloris, but he misjudged the swerve and spilled the ball at his near post and it handed the away side a corner.
Fortunately for Pochettino’s team and his captain, the set-piece failed to trouble Spurs too much and it remained 1-0 at the break.
Tottenham created the first chance of the second period with Trippier overlapping well and finding Llorente inside the area, but the ex-Swansea City striker nodded off target while slightly off balance in the 48th minute.
It was at the back where the Lilywhites continued to look shaky and another fantastic opening occurred for the visitors with 51 on the clock.
Pereira whipped the ball in and found Demarai Gray inside the area, but his eight-yard header was straight at Lloris.
Spurs won their first free kick of the game in the 53rd minute, when Rose was brought down by Pereira.
It came to nothing, though, and Leicester were back on the front foot two minutes later and Gray turned neatly inside the area, but fired straight at Lloris again.
Tottenham’s goal was living a charmed life, yet in the 58th minute the luck appeared to run out.
During a goalmouth scramble, Winks and Rose slide in and collided with each other and this allowed Maddison to claim possession and when Vertonghen made contact with him, he went down inside the area.
Referee Oliver wasted no time in pointing to the spot and before the foul had been committed, Vardy had been preparing to come on.
He duly did in the 59th minute and his first task was to find the net from 12-yards and keep up his excellent record against Spurs.
After Maddison had given Leicester’s number nine the ball, Vardy fired towards the bottom, left corner, but Lloris produced a superb save to tip the ball behind.
It sparked jubilation for the Tottenham faithful and a what could have been moment for the Foxes with Puel showing his frustration on the touchline.
While the Leicester staff, players and fans were disappointed now, in the 64th minute things got even more difficult for them.
Skipp bravely blocked a clearance from Pereira and Eriksen played a quick one-two with Llorente before making space around 22-yards-out and curling home for the hosts second goal of the game.
It was a wonderful finish from Eriksen and a sucker-punch for Leicester, who were not worthy of a two-goal deficit at Wembley.
They almost reduced the arrears in the 65th minute when Vardy sent Barnes clear, but with only Lloris to beat, the Frenchman stuck out a leg and saved impressively.
Pochettino had seen enough and looked to shut up shop now by replacing Skipp with Alderweireld in the 71st minute.
Leicester and Puel countered this with Kelechi Iheanacho - who only earned a spot on the bench when original starter Nampalys Mendy picked up an injury in the warm-up - coming on for the ineffective Rachid Ghezzal.
Just as the Spurs fans were beginning to get comfortable though, the Foxes hit back and set up an interesting final quarter of an hour at Wembley.
Pereira got forward well again and produced an excellent low cross which was bread and butter for Vardy, who tapped in from close range, after getting there ahead of substitute Alderweireld, to score his annual goal against Tottenham.
Another change was made by the Lilywhites after with Victor Wanyama replacing Llorente for the final 10 minutes.
It failed to stem the tide, however, as Leicester remained a constant threat and Vardy fired wide on the turn with 82 played following more good play by Pereira.
Spurs were struggling to keep possession and dropping deeper and deeper which just aided the Foxes hopes of levelling the scores.
Corner after corner was won by the visitors, but Tottenham and Lloris in particular continued to thwart the danger.
Kyle Walker-Peters was introduced with two minutes left for Danny Rose in a sign he is perhaps ahead of Serge Aurier in the pecking order now.
At the same time, Leicester replaced the talented Barnes, who had shown his potential at Wembley, but had failed to make the most of a number of superb openings.
Eventually a fourth goal of the game arrived in Brent and fortunately for the hosts’ and their nervy supporters it went to Spurs.
Tottenham survived another Leicester corner and Sissoko’s clearance-cum-long pass sent Son away by the halfway line.
He raced towards the Foxes goal with only Schmeichel to beat and despite plenty of work to do, he finished well to wrap up the points and the scoring.
It was Son’s third consecutive goal for Tottenham and moved them onto 60 points in the Premier League after 26 games in the division.
Next up for Spurs is a Champions League round of 16 first leg fixture with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday at Wembley and Pochettino will know his team must be a lot more switched on defensively for that tie.
However, this makes it four wins in a row for a Tottenham side still missing talisman Harry Kane and the influential Dele Alli and they remain in the title race too, which will surely only boost confidence in the camp.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose (Walker-Peters 88); Sissoko, Winks, Skipp (Alderweireld 71); Eriksen; Son, Llorente (Wanyama 80).
Unused substitutes: Gazzaniga, Foyth, Aurier, Moura.
Leicester City: Schmeihel; Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi; Ghezzal (Iheanacho 72), Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes (Okazaki 88); Gray (Vardy 59).
Unused substitutes: Ward, Morgan, Simpson, Choudhury.