Tottenham Hotspur Get Big Win They Needed Over Leeds United

Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld (L) celebrates with Son Heung-Min after he scores his team's third goal between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 2, 2021. (Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld (L) celebrates with Son Heung-Min after he scores his team's third goal between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 2, 2021. (Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

After a couple of weeks without the joy of a win, Tottenham Hotspur leveraged their opportunities and cruised to a 3-0 win over a game Leeds United.

The game was competitive throughout, although it felt like it was going to take something special for Leeds to score against a stout Tottenham Hotspur defense. That special moment never came, as Spurs scored about 30 minutes in and never looked back. By the time Tottenham sat deep, they were three goals up and the outcome was never in doubt. A late Matt Doherty second yellow prevented a perfect day, but overall Spurs got exactly what they needed.

Slow Start for Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur took a little while to really get going as the pressure from Leeds United was strong from the off, as expected. The pressing and pressure was creating an open game with some early half chances for Leeds, as fullback Ezgjan Alioski was in the box and shooting just the wrong side of the post only 4 minutes into the match.

Leeds missed on a cross and a Matt Doherty slide tackle blocked a close-range effort on one end, while Spurs were pushing to counter quickly on the other. In three passes, from Hugo Lloris long to Steven Bergwijn and then up to Son, Spurs earned a corner. As Leeds keeper Illan Meslier came high to claim the corner, the ball was going back the other way as the pace felt like basketball more than football.

The open play led to lots of almost moments like when Meslier came quickly off his line – he plays high to start – and slid to collect just in front of Bergwijn at the top of the box. This moment was really a microcosm of Bergwijn’s day as he was close a lot and where he needed to be, but he never could quite find the final ball on the day.

A little over a quarter hour, it is obvious Tottenham have their grounding in the match. While the defense is still a bit hurried with the ball and not as sharp passing as you want, Spurs are giving as good as they were getting from Leeds. Pierre Højbjerg – who was forward a lot – got a shot off right around 20 minutes, as Tottenham were getting on the ball.

The best chances from Leeds were now coming through mistakes from Spurs as Doherty gave the ball away in the 21st minute and it led to a cross that Bamford could not get on top of. Then at 25 minutes, a Bergwijn bad pass cost Spurs possession after holding the ball for at least a dozen passes. Those moments where Tottenham give the ball away are the moments of pause that lead to Spurs sitting back, so they want to keep those at a minimum.

Fortunate Break for Spurs

Just after 27 minutes Tottenham caught their big break, which really got Spurs going. It started with Meslier giving the ball away on a poor pass out of the back up the middle. Harry Winks – who started and played a decent hour – stepped up and intercepted the pass, took a touch, and looked up to play the ball forward to Steven Bergwijn on the edge of the box.

Bergwijn had done his work before the ball came as he was in front of Alioski. As Stevie let the ball roll past him to turn Alioski bundled into him from behind, the Dutchman went down, and the whistle blew. After a brief VAR review, the penalty was upheld, and Harry Kane proceeded to drill the penalty basically right down the middle, 1-0 Spurs led.

You could not say the goal was undeserved or against the run of play as there was action in both directions. Maybe Leeds had more chances to that point, but none were clear cut, which was the story of the day for Leeds as Spurs were just getting started.

Tottenham looked like they were going to score almost immediately after the first goal, but a scrum in the box ends with Kane tapping a ball wide. Quick thinking and a good clearance by Ben Davies, bailed Spurs out after a dumb Winks foul and a quick Leeds restart. Hugo then made an easy save at one end and on the other Davies played in Bergwijn only for the Dutchman to blast over from near the penalty spot.

Right after the Bergwijn miss, all of Spurs nation collectively held their breath as BOTH Kane and Son were down on the ground simultaneously each with a knock at 36 minutes. As Leeds continued to press, Eric Dier made a nice block as he ran step-for-step with Patrick Bamford and then Jack Harrison shot over.

Then some seven minutes after both men were down, Tottenham found out, it was just Kane signaling his intentions to get the ball once again to Son for a goal.

The play again started with a poor pass from Leeds where Pierre Højbjerg stepped in and intercepted the ball. As Højbjerg looked up, he spotted Harry Kane, who received the ball and began dribbling away from goal toward the sideline. Ultimately, Kane was working to pull the defense to create enough of a crease for a pass.

At the same time Kane was pulling away from goal, Heung-Min Son was flashing in and Kane played an inch-perfect pass, which Sonny first timed past a sprawling Meslier for the 2-0 lead. It was a brilliant goal for Kane’s 11th assist on Son’s 12th goal, marking a record tying 13th time the two have connected to score in the League this season, going joint with legends Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton who managed 13 for Blackburn in 1994-95.

Tottenham closed the half strong as Ben Davies shot over and Spurs looked to limit the chances before the whistle. As the second half was beginning the question was how aggressive Tottenham was going to be and how many more goals would we see.

Tottenham Seal the Game

It was quite early in the second half when the game was fully decided. Tottenham took a quick free kick on 48 minutes, which led to Tanguy Ndombele blasting one Meslier could not hang onto for a Spurs corner. The spill was a sign of what was to come for Meslier.

Toby Alderweireld jumped between defender to flick the subsequent corner from Son onto frame. The ball hits a falling Meslier in the stomach and then he fails to secure the ball and it drops into the goal only millimeters past the line. Millimeters is enough for goal line technology – assuming the clear camera angle – and Toby had his first of the season.

With a 3-0 lead Spurs were content to quasi- park the bus. I say quasi because with the open and attacking style of Leeds, the opportunity on the counter was there the entire second half. While Leeds never had any clear-cut chances, Spurs wasted a few on the other end.

Heung-Min Son probably should have been greedy and scored, instead his pass to Højbjerg in the middle of the box was intercepted. Bergwijn was in again at about 61 minutes, but this time Meslier made the kick save. Harry Kane missed form a tight angle a few minutes later.

Leeds kept coming the other way, with Ben Davies making another nice block on a cross on 69 minutes. As substitutes came on the game continued to stretch, the cards started to come out with some sloppy challenges. First Winks, then Doherty, and finally Højbjerg all earned cards that probably could have been avoided.

Unfortunate Ending

The yellow cards became problematic when at 92 minutes, with just 30 seconds left in the match, Matt Doherty stepped out for a 40/60 ball. His left foot got the ball, but his right foot stepped on the foot of Pablo Hernandez and Doherty got a ridiculously cheap second yellow and the subsequent red card that goes with it. One would assume Spurs will appeal but looks like Doherty is going to have to serve a 1 match ban.

The red card ended what would have otherwise been a perfect day for Tottenham Hotspur. A 3-0 win with a goal and assist each for both Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son to go along with a clean sheet is exactly what Tottenham needed. With the win Spurs move to third for now in the League.

Tottenham are off from the Premier League until Wednesday January 13 versus Aston Villa. Spurs play two cup ties before then, with the Carabao Cup semi-final versus Brentford on Tuesday January 5, and the FA Cup Third Round match at Marine FC next Sunday January 10.

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