Leicester City fell to Tottenham Hotspur by a score of 3-1 in the early Sunday match. Harry Kane scored from a corner in an even first period. Son Heung-Min added a brace in the second half before Kelechi Iheanacho got a stoppage-time consolation goal for the Foxes.
Manager Brendan Rodgers chose, if not violence, then at the very least chaos when selecting his starting XI. Prioritizing Thursday’s semi-final against Roma, he made eight changes to the side: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey, Caglar Söyüncü, Timothy Castagne, Luke Thomas, Ayoze Perez, Nampalys Mendy, Boubakary Soumare, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Patson Daka.
Leicester City will rest players for sure. Tottenham are 100% winning this I’m afraid.— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) May 1, 2022
You know, I could have saved two hours if I’d seen this tweet before the match.
This lineup may have had a loose, improvisational feel to it, one that didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence, but they started brightly. A roaring Soumare run down the right saw him get behind the entire defence and centre the ball. It deflected off of a Spurs player to Daka, whose first-time effort was just turned onto the post by Hugo Lloris.
Just moments later, the Foxes had another golden opportunity to take the early lead. Ben Davies laid a perfect pass in the path of Albrighton in the Spurs area. Sharky took a touch before looking up to see Daka lurking in space, but he took a split-second too long to cross, allowing a defender to slide in and snuff out the danger.
With everything going so well, it seemed inevitable that we would go behind on the North London side’s first shot on target. Spurs won a corner in the twenty-second minute. Son Heung-Min whipped it in, Harry Kane beat Amartey, and that was that: An entire family of Schmeichels wouldn’t have saved it and, given his father’s capabilities, that’s saying something.
The pace remained brisk as both sides spurned great opportunities to score. A Mendy pass towards his own area was intercepted by Kane, but Schmeichel made himself massive to block the first-time effort. At the other end, Ayoze did great work to find space just outside the area. His low-cross-that-totally-was-not-a-scuffed-shot whizzed just past the outstretched leg of Daka.
It was, somewhat to my surprise, a pretty even half and the Foxes were a little unfortunate to be down a goal at the break. These things happen when you don’t finish your chances and you let Kane get loose on a set piece. Into the tunnel, regroup, and see if you can claw it back in the second half.
Things got off to a choppy start when play resumed. Spurs seemed to have a little more aggression in them as the challenges came flying in with a little more purpose than they did in the first half. It looked increasingly likely that the home side would increase their lead before City found a way back to parity.
This proved to be the case on the hour mark. Cristian Romero won a crunching 50/50 in the centre of the park and you just knew what was coming. Spurs worked the ball down the right and slid a ball into Son. The South Korea international turned Albrighton and, let’s be honest, if Albrighton is the only defender in the vicinity, we’re in trouble, right? Anyway, he turned Albrighton, wrong-footed Schmeichel, and it the match was settled.
Rodgers took this as an opportunity to hand Lewis Brunt his Premier League debut and get Jamie Vardy some minutes, removing Daka and Soumare. The intensity of the match dropped precipitously as the hosts were in “job done” mode and the Foxes were just trying to avoid injuries. A few minutes later, Youri Tielemans came on for Ayoze to see out the match.
If the job wasn’t done, it certainly was on 75’. It was Son again, and it was spectacular. He picked up the ball outside the area on the right and drifted inside. With Tielemans not quite able to close him down, he curled an effort that beat Schmeichel and nestled inside the far corner. Could he have been closed down better? Maybe, but sometimes, you just have to tip your hat. It was a fine goal.
Near the death, Vardy was just wide with a header from a fine Brunt cross and that looked like it would be our last chance. It wasn’t, as Iheanacho found a little space outside the area and beat Lloris with a low drive in injury time. Would the Foxes be able to find two goals after the end of injury time? Haha, no. No competent referee would let such a thing happen. Jon Moss blew the whistle and that was that.
I really can’t think of a league match I’ve cared less about. This falling between the two legs of the Europa Conference League semi-final made it a non-event for me, and I suspect Brendan Rodgers felt the same way. The fact that he fielded what was essentially a reserves side in an unfamiliar formation said everything you needed to know about how seriously we were taking this match.
Am I the only one not fussed about today? Tottenham fighting for Top 4 while we are trying to stay healthy for Thursday. This result is the least surprising thing to happen.— The Windeh Citeh Fox (@AmericanFoxLCFC) May 1, 2022
You are not the only one. Didn’t you see what I just wrote?
Were there any notable performances? Eh...sort of? Soumare’s return had some nice moments, Castagne made a decent makeshift centre-half, and Cags did better than the scoreline suggested. But, there was a lot of rust out there were a lot of players out there who were desperately short of minutes and it showed.
The defeat leaves us with 42 points from 33 matches and 11th on the table. We travel to The Eternal City on Thursday to face Jose Mourinho’s A.S. Roma in the second league of the Europa Conference League semi-finals. A week from today, we host Everton as we start a three-match tour of the relegation zone.