SON TO A
Leicester ........ 0 Tottenham ......... 2 South Korean star ensures Pochettino gamble does not blow up in his face
IT TAKES a brave man to gamble with Premier League points at stake but Mauricio Pochettino rolled the dice again and came up trumps.
The Spurs’ boss ordered his two biggest stars to sit out of this tricky trip to the East Midlands as Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen had a rest.
But their understudies – in particular man-of-the-match Heung-min Son – proved able without Kane and the Dane making light work of the Foxes.
The South Korean led the line superbly, curling home a beauty to end a quiet first-half in stunning fashion.
And then he turned provider, finding Dele Alli who nodded past keeper Kasper Schmeichel before the hour, killing the game and taking the three points.
The changes came less than one week after Spurs boss Poch had drawn criticism for switching around a winning team from the midweek triumph over Inter Milan for the North London derby at The Emirates – and he was taught a painful lesson.
But the three points here lifted the club into third and also gave them their best return of points at this stage of the season since their double-winning season in 1961.
There was never any possibility of them not landing the spoils at the King Power Stadium as Spurs turned in a performance that hit the right notes.
Interestingly, Pochettino has prospered without Kane, winning eight of 12 games since the start of the 2015 campaign in which he has been absent. More importantly, they have lost just once in that time.
It was some punt by Pochettino. Three points here would have lifted Leicester into seventh and killed off Spurs’ outside hopes of a title-assault.
But while the North Londoners were without Kane through choice, they weren’t the only side shorn of their talisman.
Jamie Vardy sat out the midweek draw at Fulham and his troublesome groin forced him to sit out this one too.
Without its headline acts, the first period was little more than a waste of 45 minutes of everyone’s time.
It desperately needed an injection of life – or even a goal would have done.
Neither keeper had a shot to save. Neither keeper really had any action at all.
Spurs were content to play the ball about and wait for a chance that never came. While Leicester kept their shape, moved from side to side and tried to spring forward from deep.
Only once was either goal threatened – and that was when Wes Morgan just about put the brakes on Alli who had one-two’d his way to within sight of the Leicester keepers eyes.
Just when it seemed that a welcome half-time cuppa was all that would warm up a cold crowd, Son struck.
After all the pressing, probing and passing that appeared to be going nowhere in particular, it was a strike of simplicity that finally made a difference.
Serge Aurier played a ball inside to Son. The South Korean took it inside and then curled a beauty around Schmeichel from outside the area.
Leicester tried to mount a comeback but the closest they came was a weak Demarai Gray effort that was gathered comfortably by Hugo Lloris.
Foxes’ chief Claude Puel threw on two substitutes to force change but neither had touched the ball to any effect when Spurs grabbed their second.
Ben Davies spotted Lucas Moura in too much space, 40 yards from his opponent’s goal without a blue shirt at his back.
The Brazilian had the time to turn and run at Leicester’s defence that was badly outnumbered.
Son had peeled away to the left and his cross invited Alli to nod home the second at the far post.
It was the third time the England international had found the net and it was a timely effort as it killed off the game.
But Pochettino was not content to sit and watch his players go through the motions in the final quarter.
Eriksen was called into action from the bench and Spurs looked the more likely to add to their tally on the break as the Foxes tried to get back into the game.
When Kane entered the fray with 15 minutes left, it looked as if Leicester were having salt rubbed into their fresh wounds.