Tottenham Hotspur continue to evolve and the 3-0 victory over Leicester City
Ultimately the match was closer than the scoreline, but at the same time, the outcome was never in doubt as Tottenham Hotspur defended and counter-attacked to perfection to move – at least temporarily – to sixth place and dropping Leicester City to 5th as Spurs ran out 3-0 victors.
Leicester City can place no lower than 5th and Tottenham Hotspur can finish no higher than 6th but both still had much to play for Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Foxes want to finish in 4th place and claim the final Champions League spot from the Premier League whereas Spurs want to finish in 6th where a Europa League place would be guaranteed given Carabao Cup winners Manchester City are already in Champions League.
No one can say that Leicester City was not going for it as the Foxes dominated possession and peppered the Tottenham target with some 24 shots in the match. However, only 6 of those 24 were on target and Hugo Lloris was up to the task throughout the match. Likewise, no one can say Spurs just parked the bus as they defended with some incredible pressure just on a little over half the pitch, versus the full pitch press that was often employed under Mauricio Pochettino. With both teams trying to set themselves up for success next season, Spurs must feel good about the outcome of a game never in doubt, despite the lack of possession.
Tottenham deliver when they needed it most
The Tottenham Hotspur transition into a Jose Mourinho team continues and while their counterattack was strong a few years back, for the first time in over a year Spurs were back to their counterattacking best, with all three first-half goals coming on a quick Tottenham break. The first was only seven minutes into the game and foreshadowed the day for both sides.
As was the case all day Leicester was pressuring with the ball in the Tottenham defensive half, but the play broke down and Spurs were able to clear the ball.
In this instance, that clearance ended up being a pass to striker Harry Kane who had come back deep to recover the possession.
Kane took the ball in with his cleats and deftly turned from facing his goal of facing the Foxes’ end. As he did so Kane looked up and spotted a flashing Heung-Min Son who he hit with a lovely outside of the foot pass.
Son knew what to do from here as he drove at the Leicester defense as he stepped over the ball and the defender fell, he looked to curl the ball into the far post. Simultaneous to Son’s run, Kane came busting hump through the middle of the field pulling the defender who deflected the ball past a flailing Peter Schmeichel. Some 10 minutes later the goal was credited as an own goal, costing Son his goal and Kane his assist, but regardless the goal stood.
Leicester City bounced back well from the goal and continued to mount possession and take shots. Big blocks by Toby Alderweireld on Jamie Vardy, Davinson Sanchez on Ayoze Perez, and then Lloris on Perez. The two defenders were credited with blocks and Lloris collected one of his six saves on the day. As the Foxes continued to pressure, Spurs continued to look dangerous, with Winks playing a long ball to a flashing Son who had his blistering shot saved over by Schmeichel.
About 10 minutes after that save, Kane and company blew the game open and finished things off in the span of about 5 minutes. It started with Lucas Moura clearing Leicester’s sixth corner of the half, which Son and Giovani Lo Celso managed to secure leading to Lo Celso playing Moura in behind the defense up the left-wing. As Moura attacked Kane flashed and Moura played Spurs talisman in behind the defense where Harry Kane calmly passed with his left foot into the corner past Schmeichel for a 2-0 lead.
With the game barely settled from that second goal, Spurs struck again. At 39 minutes Winks and Son just missed starting another fast break, leading to a loose ball Lucas Moura again picked up in the defensive half. Moura then started attacking up the middle of the pitch and passed wide to Harry Kane on the left. Kane seemed to have lost the angle with the pass, but the striker turned back into the field and then curled a beauty around both Wes Morgan and Schmeichel into the far post 3-0 Spurs led and the match was effectively over.
The second half was more of the same, with Leicester continuing to possess the ball, pass it around and take potshots at goal, but never really had any big changes and while Lloris was active with his six saves, he was never really stretched in the match. Spurs have now won four of five matches since the loss to Sheffield and hope to continue their push with their season finale next Sunday at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace, while Leicester host Manchester United in a showdown for 4th place.