Ghana’s Jeffrey Schlupp scored an own goal as Leicester City were beaten 4-3 by Tottenham Hotspur in an enthralling Barclays Premier League encounter at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon.
It was a nightmare start to the match for the Foxes, who found themselves 2-0 down after just 13 minutes to a Harry Kane double. The former City loanee converted Eric Dier’s flick-on after three minutes, before adding a fortunate second when his shot took a huge deflection off Robert Huth to take it beyond Kasper Schmeichel.
City rallied, and did manage to draw level with a strike either side of the half. David Nugent set up Jamie Vardy for an excellent first-time finish on 38 minutes and then Wes Morgan headed them back onto level terms from a Matty James corner after the break.
However with City on top, Danny Rose was judged to have been fouled in the box, allowing Kane the chance to complete his hat-trick from the spot – firing confidently into the bottom corner.
The Foxes gave everything in pursuit of an equaliser but with five minutes remaining, Spurs restored their two-goal advantage when Schmeichel’s save from Christian Eriksen came back off Jeff Schlupp and into the net.
Nugent raised hopes of securing point when he calmly finished inside the near post in the final minute, but it wasn’t to be for the Foxes as the home side held on for the victory.
There were three changes to the City side for the match – most notably the return to the starting XI of Schmeichel for the first time since December.
That meant Mark Schwarzer dropped to the bench, while Leo Ulloa and Nugent came in for Riyad Mahrez and Andrej KramariÄ‡ in an attack-minded 3-4-3 system.
Inside the first few minutes Ulloa managed to release Vardy down the left channel, but before the assistant flagged for offside, Spurs defender Kyle Walker came across to make the tackle and in the process collided with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
That proved to be the end of the Frenchman’s afternoon – Michel Vorm replacing him after just three minutes.
The Foxes had looked bright in possession early on, but it was the home side that took the lead with their first real attack. Dier got a glancing touch on a cross at the near post, and the ball fell kindly for Kane to finish from close range just behind him.
Soon after, David Nugent, who was playing to the right of Ulloa, looked to test substitute ‘keeper Vorm with an ambitious half volley from 35 yards. His effort had the Spurs no.13 backtracking, but he was able to get a touch to prevent it levelling the scores.
The luck was undoubtedly with Tottenham though, as on 13 minutes Kane had his second of the game thanks to a huge deflection. Walker’s cross had been cleared back into his path on the edge of the area, and his resulting shot struck Huth before looping into the far corner for 2-0.
Things could have been worse in the 23rd minute had Schmeichel not got a crucial touch on Christian Eriksen’s angled 18-yard drive – tipping it onto the post before Ryan Mason fired the follow-up over.
Esteban Cambiasso had gone close on his right, but the game looked to be drifting towards half-time, until the combination of Nugent and Vardy injected some much-needed life into it.
Nugent burst down the right channel and played an inch-perfect pass across the Spurs defence for the incoming Vardy to connect first time and fire into the bottom corner.
Ulloa worked a similar ball for Vardy from the same position shortly after, but Walker got a head to it as City attempted to haul themselves back level before the break.
Only a last ditch tackle from Danny Rose denied Nugent the chance of doing just that after good work from Vardy, while Ulloa headed over from Ritchie De Laet’s cross as City ended the half on top.
Marcin Wasilewski replaced Matthew Upson at half-time, but it was another centre-back who made the difference on 49 minutes. Ulloa did well to win the corner on the left, which was whipped in brilliantly by James for City skipper Morgan to power a header past Vorm.
Spurs soon made a change of their own – Andros Townsend off and Paulinho on – as City continued to ask questions of the home side’s defence in the hope of securing a win that would move them off the bottom of the table.
City’s confidence was growing, and from another set play they very nearly took the lead for the first time in the match. Huth rose highest to meet a James corner and powered a downwards header a foot or so wide of Vorm’s goal.
However that momentum was halted just after the hour, when the referee awarded a penalty for a Nugent foul on Rose. Up stepped Kane to confidently send Schmeichel the wrong way and in the process complete his hat-trick.
Kane and Chaldli then both wasted further identical efforts at the far post for the home side as City’s pursuit of an equaliser opened the game up even further.
Pearson’s second change was to introduce even more pace to the mix in the form of Mahrez. The Algerian international replaced Huth, but it was from set plays that City seemed most dangerous – Wasilewski heading over from a free kick on 79 minutes.
City were pressing, but bad luck struck again in the final five minutes, as Schmeichel did brilliantly to save from Eriksen, only to see the ball cannon off an unfortunate Schlupp and into the net for 4-2.
Both sides them made their final changes. For City Cambiasso made way for Andy King, while Mason come off for Moussa Dembele for the hosts.
Leicester heads didn’t drop though, and Nugent did well to finish inside Vorm’s near post in the final minute to make it 4-3, but City couldn’t grab that crucial fourth goal as Spurs held on for the win.
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