Foxes out fox Spurs
Written By: Robert Halter
Leicester City were the surprise package of the 2015/16 Premier League season and under the guidance of Claudio Ranieri were punching above their weight at the top of the table but after the Foxes were denied a victory in the F.A. Cup third round by a late Harry Kane penalty, they returned to league action at White Hart Lane, three days later, in a mid January evening kick off. Tottenham Hotspur created first in the second minute, when Christian Eriksen’s low drive was stopped by a comfortable save from Kasper Schmeichel, through an assist by Erik Lamela. Three minutes later from a ball across by Eriksen, an incisive strike by Dele Alli, went fractions wide of the right post. But on ten minutes, it was backs to the wall for the Foxes, as first from a Lamela corner, a cushioned header by Toby Alderweireld, was tipped over the bar by Schmeichel, who then punched behind an Eriksen corner, before finally from Lamela’s corner, a header by Alderweireld, flew over. The Lilywhites were still in the ascendancy, three minutes later, when from Kane’s square pass, the ball was smacked over by Eric Dier. But on seventeen minutes, the Foxes threatened, when a left footed strike by Shinji Okazaki, turned away from the left post, after Jamie Vardy had fought the Leicester cause, to prize an opening. Midway through the first half, N’Golo Kante went close with a right footed effort but missed the target from the right side of the box as the ball went past the top right corner. In the next three minutes, a save by Hugo Lloris, kept out a Danny Drinkwater strike which looked destined for the bottom right corner, following a headed pass by Okazaki. But on the half hour mark, a double handed stop by Schmeichel, pushed away Eriksen’s clean strike from long distance, after a lay off by Kane. Two minutes on, after build up play down the left with Jan Vertonghen and then Ben Davies, the final piece of the jigsaw was left in a puzzle, after Lamela miss placed his shot. The match remained deadlocked at half time and it wasn’t until the fifty fifth minute for the next piece of goal mouth action, when Lamela clipped the ball wide of the target, after a low cross by Davies. On the hour mark, a slip by Kyle Walker, let Vardy in but Lloris was quick off his line and rescued the situation with a sliding save to block out the advancing Vardy. But two minutes afterwards, from a Lamela pass, a dink by Kane over Schmeichel was pushed onto the frame of the goal, before Robert Huth blocked the rebound from Alli. Changes then followed as Leicester replaced Vardy with Leonardo Ulloa and Spurs brought on Mousa Dembele for Eriksen. On seventy four minutes, Lamela hooked the ball over the upright with a left footed strike from the centre of the box, from a low cross by Davies. In the following two minutes, Leicester broke forward when Marc Albrighton’s cross was met by Riyad Mahrez whose shot was blocked by Alderweireld, the rebound came to Ulloa who hit Okazaki with his effort before Ulloa’s second attempt was blocked by Vertonghen in the six yard box. The Foxes then substituted Okazaki with Andy King. In the seventy eighth minute, another vital save was made by Schmeichel to fend away Alli’s drive towards the bottom right corner, after Kane had turned provider. Spurs then brought on Heung-Min Son for Tom Carroll. But it was a smash and grab by the Foxes in the eighty third minute, when from a deep corner by Christian Fuchs, a header was planted into the roof of the net by Huth, from the centre of the area to the top left corner. Near the end, Leicester replaced Mahrez with Nathan Dyer while Tottenham took off Eric Dier for Josh Onomah. But on a night when Arsenal conceded a late goal at Anfield to draw 3-3 with Liverpool, it had left the door open for Leicester City as their 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur, had moved the Foxes equal top of the table on level points with Arsenal, only trailing the Gunners by an inferior goal difference.