Wednesday 23 October 2019

Maddison puts Spurs to sword to strengthen England case

Leicester City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Leicester City's James Maddison scores his side's second goal of the game. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Leicester City's James Maddison scores his side's second goal of the game. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

John Percy

With England manager Gareth Southgate in the stand, this was a perfectly timed moment of magic from James Maddison. Picking the ball up 25 yards from the goal five minutes from time, the £21 million midfielder's low drive arrowed into the bottom corner and ended Tottenham's recent dominance over Leicester.

This was the statement victory Brendan Rodgers sorely needed to emphasise why Leicester are being tipped to gatecrash the established order of the top six, and Maddison delivered the blow to cap a fine individual performance.

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He was called up to the last England squad and failed to appear, but that debut is surely not too far away now.

Spurs have not won a Premier League away game since January 20 and it was another excruciating afternoon for Mauricio Pochettino, days after the Greek giveaway against Olympiacos.

Leading after a moment of improvised brilliance from Harry Kane, Spurs were denied a second by the Video Assistant Referee after Son Heung-Min was ruled offside by the most minuscule of margins. That let-off inspired Leicester, and Maddison's winner secured a first win over Pochettino in four attempts.

These encounters have taken on a harder edge in recent years, with a rivalry established between the clubs during the season when Leicester won the league. After drawing at Chelsea and losing at Manchester United this season, Leicester needed to win here in order to live up to the growing expectation.

Leicester City's Harvey Barnes in action with Tottenham Hotspur's Serge Aurier. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters
Leicester City's Harvey Barnes in action with Tottenham Hotspur's Serge Aurier. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

Leicester did control most of the first half, with Maddison influential and Jamie Vardy pressing the Spurs back-four into a constant state of nervousness.

The home team thought they had scored in the 16th minute, only to be left frustrated by the latest weekly dose of VAR controversy, and the first incident of the afternoon.

Wilfred Ndidi was clearly offside when he converted after Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga fumbled a shot from Youri Tielemans, so the decision was correct. Yet the delay over the decision took around a minute, with chaos and confusion taking hold. Both sets of players had lined up in preparation for Spurs to kick off from the centre-circle, so there was obviously a glaring lack of communication from referee Paul Tierney as he waited for instructions.

Spurs fans were celebrating just before the half hour, however, after a remarkable piece of ingenuity from Kane. Running into the area to a backheel from Son, Kane was caught by Caglar Soyuncu and as he was falling to the turf managed to raise his leg to loop the ball over Kasper Schmeichel into the top corner.

Leicester City's Ayoze Perez (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose battle for the ball. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Leicester City's Ayoze Perez (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose battle for the ball. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Pride comes before a fall, unless you are the Spurs and England forward.

Leicester were never out of the game and Vardy was finally given a clearcut chance in the 57th minute when he was brilliantly sent clear by Tielemans, but his shot was pushed away by Gazzaniga. Harvey Barnes then headed wide after a sustained period of pressure.

The crucial VAR call came in the 66th minute. Serge Aurier's deflected drive beat Schmeichel yet Son was adjudged offside by mere millimetres in the build-up. That slice of fortune fired Leicester up, and they were level 20 minutes from time. Vardy's low cross eluded the Spurs defence and Ricardo Pereira powered the ball home from eight yards.

Maddison then seized centre stage, with a goal that will only enhance his growing reputation.

Telegraph

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