Friday 30 September 2016

Spurs slip means Leicester could wrap up title success at Old Trafford on Sunday

Published 25/04/2016 | 22:06

West Brom's Craig Dawson, second right, celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the equaliser
West Brom's Craig Dawson, second right, celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the equaliser

Leicester will be crowned Barclays Premier League champions with a win next weekend after Craig Dawson's header held Tottenham to a 1-1 draw against West Brom.

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Spurs' surprise slip-up at White Hart Lane means Leicester are seven points clear with three games remaining and the Foxes' fairytale will be complete if they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino's men looked on course for another comfortable victory when Dawson bundled in a first-half own-goal but the defender redeemed himself, heading home with 18 minutes left to leave Tottenham's title hopes hanging by a thread.

A disappointing night for Spurs could become worse too as Eric Dier was forced to leave the field following a clash of heads with Dawson in the second half, while Dele Alli may face a retrospective ban for appearing to punch West Brom's Claudio Yacob.

Alli began the night collecting his PFA Young Player of the Year award in front of the Tottenham supporters but the midfielder let his frustrations boil over early on with an unnecessary act of petulance.

Referee Mike Jones did not seem to see the incident but the 20-year-old could yet face a three-match suspension if found guilty of violent conduct, a punishment which would rule him out for the rest of the season.

Tottenham dominated the opening exchanges and within 12 minutes had twice hit the woodwork as Harry Kane bounced a one-two off Alli, but saw his finish tipped onto the post, before Christian Eriksen's whipped free-kick grazed the top of the crossbar.

Alli had undergone some heavy challenges early on and he took his frustration out on Yacob, turning and swinging his hand into the midfielder's stomach when referee Jones was looking the other way.

Surviving the early onslaught, West Brom dropped deep, happy to let the hosts dictate possession while Spurs fans vented their frustration as early as the 22nd minute when the Baggies took their time over a throw-in.

In fact, the visitors could have taken the lead when Craig Gardner blazed over from inside the area and moments later Spurs made them pay, as Jan Vertonghen and Dawson tussled to meet Eriksen's free-kick, with the latter bundling the ball under Boaz Myhill for an own-goal.

With the deadlock broken, Tottenham began to enjoy themselves, Mousa Dembele flicking his way nonchalantly through Darren Fletcher and the home supporters launching into an optimistic rendition of "Leicester City, we're coming for you".

All that seemed left was for the hosts to score a second and they nearly did so just before the hour mark when Erik Lamela skewed Eriksen's pullback onto the post and Kane was unable to turn in the rebound.

As the game drifted into the latter stages, however, West Brom began to turn the tide. Salomon Rondon heading Gardner's cross wide was a warning which went unheeded as in the 72nd minute Dawson climbed above both Dier and a flailing Hugo Lloris to head home an equaliser from a Gardner corner.

Dier took a blow to the head trying to defend the goal and had to be substituted, while Nacer Chadli was also introduced late on as the hosts desperately searched for a winner.

There were to be no late heroics, however, as Tottenham's title challenge finally hit the buffers, leaving Leicester on the brink of glory.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

"Well done Leicester ,spurs your time will come" - former Tottenham winger Chris Waddle (@chriswaddle93) believes the Premier League title race is over.

PLAYER RATINGS

Tottenham

Hugo Lloris: 5

Kyle Walker: 7

Toby Alderweireld: 7

Jan Vertonghen: 7

Danny Rose: 7

Eric Dier: 6

Mousa Dembele: 7

Erik Lamela: 6

Dele Alli: 7

Christian Eriksen: 7

Harry Kane: 6

Substitutes -

Ryan Mason (for Dier, 75): 6

Son Heung-min ( for Lamela, 85): 6

Nacer Chadli (for Alli, 90): 5

West Brom

Boaz Myhill: 7

Craig Dawson: 7

Gareth McAuley: 6

Jonas Olsson: 5

Jonny Evans: 6

Claudio Yacob: 5

James McLean: 6

Darren Fletcher: 6

Craig Gardner: 6

Stephane Sessegnon: 6

Salomon Rondon: 6

Substitutes -

Sandro (for Sessegnon, 90): 5

STAR PLAYER

Boaz Myhill: Came in for the injured Ben Foster but was superb in keeping out a number of Tottenham efforts, most notably Harry Kane's one-on-one chance in the early stages which he managed to push onto a post. A couple of other stops frustrated Spurs and ultimately cost them a valuable three points in the title race.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Craig Dawson: Having unknowingly steered the ball past the impressive Myhill to give Spurs the lead, it would be defender Dawson who would then go on to silence White Hart Lane with West Brom's sucker-punch of an equaliser. It may have been scrappy but it was enough for the Baggies to leave north London with a point and could help hand the title to Leicester in just six days' time.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Mauricio Pochettino took the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach by sending out an unchanged side bursting with momentum. They laboured at times against a defensive outfit and failed to fire in front of goal. Tony Pulis spent much of the game bellowing to his players and they responded with an unlikely point.

MOAN OF THE MATCH

Tottenham struggled to break down a strong defensive unit and toiled for much of the evening. They may have hit the woodwork on three occasions but, especially in the second half, they just lacked the creativity to truly worry a West Brom side set up to get the point they duly departed with.

WHO'S UP NEXT?

Chelsea v Tottenham, Barclays Premier League (Monday, May 2)

West Brom v West Ham, Barclays Premier League (Saturday, April 30)

Mauricio Pochettino urged his Tottenham players to continue to believe they could steal the Premier League title from Leicester's grasp.

"We're very disappointed," the Spurs boss told Sky Sports 1.

"It could have been three or four-nil but unlucky for us we weren't clinical in the box.

"It was a very tough game and they competed very well.

"Now it's difficult to carry on but we need to believe. In football it can happen."

Tony Pulis, whose side ended a three-game losing run, said: "We just watched them dance around us at times but the great thing about the game was we came in just 1-0 down at half-time.

"But second half was much better - more like the performances we've been putting in away from home.

"I'm really pleased with the players. We lack a bit of quality at times but (I can't fault) their work-rate and they work within a shape that suits them."

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