Leicester hold on to defeat Spurs

Jamie Vardy scores against Tottenham
Jamie Vardy’s goal was his 100th in league football

Tottenham were left ruing a host of missed chances as Leicester held out to move into the top half of the table with victory at the King Power.

A deft lob from Jamie Vardy and a curling shot from Riyad Mahrez gave the Foxes a healthy half-time lead.

Christian Eriksen contrived to volley wide from six yards out before Harry Kane rifled in with 12 minutes to go.

Fernando Llorente then stabbed over the top from close range as the visitors hunted an equaliser in vain.

The hosts rode their luck to the end – with referee Anthony Taylor waving away a strong injury-time penalty claim as Danny Rose went down under Wilfred Ndidi’s challenge – but emerged with all three points from only 37% possession.

Puel’s quiet revolution

Claude Puel on the touchline
Claude Puel was sacked by Southampton at the end of last season

The victory is the biggest result since Claude Puel took charge and the Frenchman has amassed a quietly impressive record in his first month on the job.

The Foxes’ only defeat in his five league matches came to runaway leaders Manchester City and they have edged up from 14th up to 9th over that time.

This win was straight from the 2015/16 title-winning template.

Vardy was permanently poised on the last defender’s shoulder or scampering down the channels. Wes Morgan twice came close with headers as Tottenham struggled with his physicality from set-pieces. Marc Albrighton hustled and harried as well as providing silver-service delivery into the penalty area.

Mahrez was still short of the sort of form that secured the 2016 PFA Player of the Year award, but the Algerian’s enduring quality showed as he drifted off the right wing, past Jan Vertonghen and swept home the decisive goal just before the break.

Puel will know, however, that his predecessor Craig Shakespeare also sought to take Leicester back to the basics that won them the title, only to run out of momentum after initial success.

Time will be the test of his reign.

Tottenham hit more problems on the home front

Dele Alli and Harry Kane react to Tottenham's defeat at Leicester
Tottenham would have moved back into the top four had they avoided defeat

Tottenham’s position above Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League group is no longer masking some serious stalling on the domestic scene.

Spurs have won just one of their last six games away from European competition, have lost as many league games as they did in the whole of last campaign and could well be seventh by the end of tomorrow.

For all his good work during his time at the club, Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics seemed to set his side up for Leicester’s counter-attacking sucker-punch.

A high defensive line left acres of space for Vardy to exploit, and Vicente Iborra and Ndidi had already aimed long balls over the top for the England striker before his sublime opener.

The Argentine was not helped by some shockingly poor finishing from his side.

Dele Alli – with three Premier League goals this season – should have beaten Kasper Schmeichel to level after Moussa Sissoko had been denied from a similar position in the first half. Worse was to come with the misses from Eriksen and Llorente.

Erik Lamela’s bright cameo – including a cute pass for Kane’s 10th of the season – after 13 months out will be one of few positives.

Vardy enjoys two-year anniversary

Jamie Vardy celebrates his goal against Tottenham
Vardy was involved in eight aerial duels – more than any other player on the pitch

Two years ago to the day, Vardy scored for an 11th successive league game to set a new Premier League record.

With one goal in his preceding 10 matches for club and country his current form is less spectacular, but his goal showed that his confidence is undented.

As he stretched for his touch, it seemed initially as if the 30-year-old would control Albrighton’s lofted through ball, but instead he chipped a delicate, instinctive volley over an advancing Lloris for a superb opener.

He celebrated with relish in front of the Tottenham fans and a performance full of aggression and pace kept the visiting defence fully occupied as his team-mates dropped deeper and deeper in the second half.

Vardy and Kane sparred on social media as Leicester closed out their title win two years ago and, while the England team-mates finished with a goal apiece, it was the Leicester man who won this battle.




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