December 4, 2022

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Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Hosts deal hammer blow to Spurs’ top four hopes

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If Harry Kane was in any doubt how far he is away from winning trophies or playing Champions League football with Spurs, a comprehensive defeat in the pouring rain at Elland Road should act as the final confirmation.

Interim manager Ryan Mason tried to build on last week’s win against Sheffield United by including all of Tottenham’s big-hitters Kane, Son, Gareth Bale and Dele Alli, but it was the lesser names of Leeds who were hungrier and more adept, even if the visitor’s quibbled at having a Kane goal ruled out for offside at 1-1.

While Spurs were sluggish despite the incentive of European football, Marcelo Bielsa – 35 years Mason’s senior – clearly didn’t tell his mid-table Leeds side they had nothing left to play for. 

Leeds United dealt a heavy blow to Tottenham Hotspur's top four ambitions after sealing a 3-1 win at Elland Road

Leeds United dealt a heavy blow to Tottenham Hotspur's top four ambitions after sealing a 3-1 win at Elland Road

Leeds United dealt a heavy blow to Tottenham Hotspur’s top four ambitions after sealing a 3-1 win at Elland Road

Spaniard Rodrigo came off the bench to wrap up all three points for Marcelo Bielsa's side in Yorkshire on Saturday

Spaniard Rodrigo came off the bench to wrap up all three points for Marcelo Bielsa's side in Yorkshire on Saturday

Spaniard Rodrigo came off the bench to wrap up all three points for Marcelo Bielsa’s side in Yorkshire on Saturday

The Leeds striker celebrates with Raphinha after the Brazilian teed up his strike partner for United's third goal

The Leeds striker celebrates with Raphinha after the Brazilian teed up his strike partner for United's third goal

The Leeds striker celebrates with Raphinha after the Brazilian teed up his strike partner for United’s third goal

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS 

Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier 7: Ayling 7, Struijk 6, Llorente 6, Alioski 7; Koch 6; Dallas 7, Roberts 6 (Raphinha 58 7), Klich 6 (Phillips 90), Harrison 8; Bamford 7 (Rodrigo 80 6.5)

Subs unused: Casilla (Gk), Poveda-Campo, Hernandez, Davis, Berardi, Shackleton

Goals: Dallas 13, Bamford 42, Rodrigo 84

Booked: Koch

Tottenham (4-3-3): Lloris 7.5: Aurier 5.5, Alderweireld 6.5, Dier 5, Reguilon 5; Lo Celso 5.5 (Ndombele 80), Hojbjerg 6, Alli 7 (Lamela 67 6); Bale 5.5 (Moura 67 6), Kane 6.5, Son 6

Subs unused: Hart (Gk), Doherty, Sanchez, Winks, Sissoko, Bergwijn, Ndombele

Goal: Son 25

Booked: Reguilon, Moura

Referee: Michael Oliver 6

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They threw themselves at Spurs from the opening whistle and went ahead through Stuart Dallas, Even when Son equalised with the visitor’s first shot on target, Patrick Bamford restored the lead before half-time and substitute Rodrigo then sealed the points late on.

For Bamford, his first goal in six games was particularly sweet as he was able to celebrate in front of the watching England manager Gareth Southgate.

Kane’s mood was less gleeful. He had a frustrating afternoon with a goal chalked off for a marginal offside and a free-kick that struck the crossbar.

But he’s intelligent enough to know that as a cohesive unit, Tottenham aren’t even at the level of Leeds, let alone Manchester City and Europe’s best.

Though they still have three games left and mathematically could still finish ahead of Leicester, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool, they aren’t realistically going to overhaul three of them to qualify for Europe’s premier competition.

Indeed, they could be caught by Everton and worryingly for chairman Daniel Levy there appeared a lack of fight from the international players representing one of the so-called Big Six.

Gareth Bale, fresh from a hat-trick against Sheffield United, was hooked midway through the second half and still hasn’t scored a Premier League goal away from home this season.

Hugo Lloris was the visitor’s best and busiest player despite conceding three. His workload started early on with a block from Bamford but he couldn’t stop Leeds from taking the lead after 14 minutes.

Jack Harrison beat Serge Aurier to fizz in a low cross which Sergio Reguilon diverted in the wrong direction inside the six-yard box.

Lloris showed sharp reflexes to save his team-mate the embarrassment of an own goal but his parry fell straight to Dallas who gleefully hammered in from close range for his eighth strike of the season.

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Tottenham’s performance underlined why Jose Mourinho was reluctant to put all his big name forwards in the same line up but they do have the individual quality that earned them an equaliser against the run of play after 25 minutes. 

Stuart Dallas put Bielsa's side in front after dispatching from close range following a superb ball from Jack Harrison

Stuart Dallas put Bielsa's side in front after dispatching from close range following a superb ball from Jack Harrison

Stuart Dallas put Bielsa’s side in front after dispatching from close range following a superb ball from Jack Harrison

The Northern Irishman celebrates with Luke Ayling after putting the Premier League newcomers ahead in Yorkshire

The Northern Irishman celebrates with Luke Ayling after putting the Premier League newcomers ahead in Yorkshire

The Northern Irishman celebrates with Luke Ayling after putting the Premier League newcomers ahead in Yorkshire

Son Heung-min drew Tottenham level after slotting beyond Illan Meslier after latching onto a superb Dele Alli throughball

Son Heung-min drew Tottenham level after slotting beyond Illan Meslier after latching onto a superb Dele Alli throughball

Son Heung-min drew Tottenham level after slotting beyond Illan Meslier after latching onto a superb Dele Alli throughball

The South Korean celebrates after clawing Ryan Mason's side level in their pursuit of a place in the top four this season

The South Korean celebrates after clawing Ryan Mason's side level in their pursuit of a place in the top four this season

The South Korean celebrates after clawing Ryan Mason’s side level in their pursuit of a place in the top four this season

However, Patrick Bamford ensured that Bielsa's side went into the half time break in front after finishing a fine passing move

However, Patrick Bamford ensured that Bielsa's side went into the half time break in front after finishing a fine passing move

However, Patrick Bamford ensured that Bielsa’s side went into the half time break in front after finishing a fine passing move

The Englishman celebrates with Stuart Dallas after netting in front of England boss Gareth Southgate at Elland Road

The Englishman celebrates with Stuart Dallas after netting in front of England boss Gareth Southgate at Elland Road

The Englishman celebrates with Stuart Dallas after netting in front of England boss Gareth Southgate at Elland Road

When Alli received the ball on the edge of the box, Kane made a dummy run to his left, allowing the England international to slot a clever pass to his right where Son was running into space.

Once clear, the South Korean had little trouble beating Illan Meslier for a goal against the run of play.

Leeds looked temporarily deflated but reacted in the positive way you’d expect from a Bielsa side.

Harrison found space on the left and fired in powerfully, forcing Lloris to fingertip over the bar and made the most of a stroke of luck when Kane dinked Alli’s pass over Illan Meslier only to be ruled fractionally offside by the length of a big toe.

After 42 minutes, Leeds were ahead again. Left-back Ezgjan Alioski overlapped energetically to reach the byline and his cutback into the box allowed Bamford to beat a static Dier to earn himself an easy finish.

Southgate would have noted that and some nice passes from Alli but Spurs were unable to mount pressure consistently though Son hit the sidenetting. Mason took off Alli and Bale but the main contribution of one substitute Lucas Moura was to get booked for an arm in Alioski’s face while the other replacement Erik Lamela couldn’t beat Meslier when fed by Kane. The England captain also struck the top of the bar from a 25-yard set piece. 

Harry Kane thought he had put Spurs ahead with a neat finish but VAR determined that the Englishman was offside

Harry Kane thought he had put Spurs ahead with a neat finish but VAR determined that the Englishman was offside

Harry Kane thought he had put Spurs ahead with a neat finish but VAR determined that the Englishman was offside

Tottenham's talisman cuts a dejected figure as the North Londoners looked to engineer a route back into the game

Tottenham's talisman cuts a dejected figure as the North Londoners looked to engineer a route back into the game

Tottenham’s talisman cuts a dejected figure as the North Londoners looked to engineer a route back into the game

The Spurs striker went closest to pulling Spurs back into the game in the second half after hitting the bar from a free kick

The Spurs striker went closest to pulling Spurs back into the game in the second half after hitting the bar from a free kick

The Spurs striker went closest to pulling Spurs back into the game in the second half after hitting the bar from a free kick 

The defeat in a soaking wet Yorkshire deals a heavy blow to Spurs' hopes of playing in the Champions League next season

The defeat in a soaking wet Yorkshire deals a heavy blow to Spurs' hopes of playing in the Champions League next season

The defeat in a soaking wet Yorkshire deals a heavy blow to Spurs’ hopes of playing in the Champions League next season

In contrast, Bielsa’s changes combined for the killer third goal. Raphinha dashed down the left and unselfishly played a ball into the unmarked Rodrigo who hammered in his first goal of 2021.

Mason described his side’s defeat as “disappointing” and said the outcome could have been different had Kane’s goal stood at 1-1.

‘I thought it was onside when I saw it on the touchline. I’ve seen it back since and my feeling hasn’t changed,’ he said.

‘Goals change things and if we’d gone 2-1 up it is a completely different game of football. We created chances and some big moments in the second half but needed to take one of them. Late on, we had to open up and they caught us on the counter.’

Bielsa was delighted with his side’s response having flopped to defeat at Brighton last Monday.

‘Considering the strength of the opponent and the way we attacked and defended, this was one of the best performances of the season,’ he said.

Leeds are set for a top-half finishing following promotion. ‘I thought it would be possible to compete as equals. I looked at what we were capable of but football is hard to predict,’ reflected the Argentine.

Interim boss Ryan Mason was unable to maintain his perfect record in the league since taking over from Jose Mourinho

Interim boss Ryan Mason was unable to maintain his perfect record in the league since taking over from Jose Mourinho

Interim boss Ryan Mason was unable to maintain his perfect record in the league since taking over from Jose Mourinho

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