Spurs sink Le­ices­ter to stay in EPL ti­tle hunt

Millennium Post - - Mp Sport -

LONDON: Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino saluted Tot­ten­ham's fight­ing spirit as they kept alive their bid to gate-crash the Premier League ti­tle race with a 3-1 win over Le­ices­ter on Sun­day.

Po­chet­tino's side took the

lead through Davin­son Sanchez's first goal for the club, but they were in­debted to Hugo Lloris for sav­ing Jamie Vardy's spot-kick af­ter the in­ter­val at Wem­b­ley. Chris­tian Erik­sen net­ted mo­ments later and although Vardy got one back, Son He­ung-min's late strike en­sured third-placed Tot­ten­ham clinched a fifth win in their

last six league games.

The north Lon­don­ers are five points off the top of the ta­ble as they try to catch pace-set­ters Liver­pool and Manch­ester City.

While Tot­ten­ham are still out­siders to win their first English ti­tle since 1961, their abil­ity to stay in con­tention, de­spite in­juries to key play­ers Harry Kane and Dele Alli sug­gests they shouldn't be com­pletely writ­ten off.

This gritty suc­cess was the ideal prepa­ra­tion for host­ing Borus­sia Dort­mund in the Cham­pi­ons League last 16 first

leg on Wed­nes­day. “Some­times you can win games not play­ing your best. We con­ceded more chances than usual, but I think the vic­tory is fair,” Po­chet­tino said. “The ef­fort was fan­tas­tic, with the cir­cum­stances that hap­pened in this game and also this sea­son. I'm so proud.”

Le­ices­ter have lost four of their last five league games, in­creas­ing the pres­sure on un­der-fire boss Claude Puel.

Puel has re­port­edly lost the sup­port of sev­eral in­flu­en­tial play­ers, in­clud­ing Eng­land striker Vardy, who was left on the bench for the first 60 min­utes be­fore com­ing on to miss a penalty with his first touch.

In­sist­ing he was happy for Vardy to take the penalty, Puel said: “I gave him the op­por­tu­nity. I said if he felt good he could take it.

“Maybe it was not a good thing, but we had a lot of chances, not just with this penalty.” Fer­nando Llorente was caught nap­ping early on when Harry Maguire evaded the Tot­ten­ham striker's mark­ing and met James Mad­di­son's free-kick with a tow­er­ing header that Lloris tipped over. Then, Le­ices­ter's Har­vey Barnes was al­lowed too much space in the penalty area as he raced onto Youri Tiele­mans' pass, but a poor fin­ish

wasted a gilt-edged chance.

Fi­nally piec­ing to­gether an in­ci­sive raid, Tot­ten­ham were fu­ri­ous when Son's penalty ap­peal ended in a book­ing for div­ing af­ter Maguire stuck out a leg to halt the South Korean.

Still an­gry about the de­ci­sion af­ter the match, Po­chet­tino fumed: “It's un­be­liev­able. I am a per­son who ac­cepts the mis­takes, but to­day it was so clear. I told Michael Oliver.

“If we are be­ing tar­geted (by ref­er­ees), I don't un­der­stand why. We are nice peo­ple.”

Po­chet­tino's men chan­nelled their frus­tra­tion into a sus­tained as­sault on the Le­ices­ter goal.

Tot­ten­ham were re­warded with a well-worked 33rd minute opener. Trip­pier's short corner found the un­marked Chris­tian Erik­sen and he whipped a pin­point cross to­wards Sanchez six yards from goal. Le­ices­ter called for off­side, but their protests were in vain as Sanchez launched him­self into a div­ing header that flashed past Kasper Sch­me­ichel. Re­plays showed the Colom­bia de­fender was just on­side as he scored his first goal for Tot­ten­ham since his 2017 move from Ajax. Le­ices­ter's pos­i­tive start to the sec­ond half brought a golden op­por­tu­nity to equalise with their 60th minute penalty.

A rapid ex­change of passes opened up a chance for Mad­di­son, prompt­ing Jan Ver­tonghen to rashly bun­dle over the mid­fielder. Vardy had been warm­ing up in prepa­ra­tion and was im­me­di­ately in­tro­duced, jog­ging for­ward to take the ball from Mad­di­son.

But Lloris came to Tot­ten­ham's res­cue, plung­ing to his right to keep out Vardy's spot­kick. Tot­ten­ham made the most of their es­cape as Erik­sen dou­bled the lead three min­utes later.

Llorente pounced on Ri­cardo Pereira's poor clear­ance and teed up Erik­sen for a su­perb strike from the edge of the area for his first goal since Jan­uary 1. Vardy gave Le­ices­ter hope in the 76th minute, pounc­ing from close-range to con­vert Pereira's cross in typ­i­cally preda­tory fash­ion.

But Son had the last word in the 90th minute as the winger raced clear to slot past Sch­me­ichel for his 15th goal of the sea­son.

PIC/PTI

Tot­ten­ham's Chris­tian Erik­sen (cen­ter) cel­e­brates with Harry Winks af­ter scor­ing a goal dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and Le­ices­ter City in London, Sun­day

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