- James Maddison’s 85th minute strike gave Leicester City an impressive win in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off
- Maddison whipped a low, 20-yard effort into the bottom left hand corner to continue Foxes fine start
- Ricardo Pereira’s 69th minute goal had earlier cancelled out Harry Kane’s first half strike in end to end affair
- Wilfred Ndidi and Serge Aurier both saw their goals controversially disallowed by VAR in the first half
Leicester City got what they deserved here. James Maddison secured the result his performance merited with his spectacular 86th minute strike.
And Brendan Rodgers’ team were dynamic, disciplined and daring as they eventually overcame Spurs. Had Tottenham won this game, as comfortably as it looked as though had in the 64th minute, it really wouldn’t have been a true reflection of the balance of play.
And yet, Tottenham should have won this game. And were it not for VAR they would have almost certainly have done so.
James Maddison’s brilliant 85th minute goal saw Leicester come from behind to beat Spurs 2-1 in the Premier League
Maddison curled a brilliant 20-yard effort into the bottom left hand corner to seal continue Leicester’s fine start to the season
Maddison’s goal capped a man-of-the-match display though he hobbled off the pitch after the game after an ankle knock
MATCH FACTS AND LEAGUE TABLE
Leicester (4-3-3): Schmeichel 7; Pereira 7, Soyuncu 7.5, Evans 7, Chilwell 7; Maddison 8.5, Ndidi 7, Tielemans 7.5 (Choudhury 84); Barnes, 7 (Gray 83) Vardy 7.5, Perez 7 (Praet 67)
Goalscorers: Pereira 69, Maddison 85
Subs not used: Justin, Morgan, Albrighton, Ward
Tottenham: (4-1-2-1-2) Gazzanigga 6; Aurier 7 Alderweireld 6.5, Vertonghen 6.5, Rose 6.5; Winks 6; Ndombele 6.5 (Moura, 86), Sissoko 6.5 (Wanyama 67, 6); Lamela 6 (Eriksen 79, 6); Son 7, Kane 7.5
Subs not used: Dier, Skipp, Davies, Whiteman
Goalscorers: Kane 29
Booked: Sissoko, Wanyama
Referee: Paul Tierney 7
Often on these occasions managers or fans employ a counter factual narratives to suit their agenda. You know the kind. ‘Had VAR not spotted that handball/offside/foul we would have/could have/should have won the game!’
The incident involving Son Heung-Min and Jonny Evans on 64 minutes does not fit into the above category. It is simply the wrong decision given legitimacy by the false claims of a television frame and wobbly line which purports to show a player a centimetre or so offside when it actually cannot do so.
Tanguy Ndembele had played in Son racing through on goal. The assistant ref let play continue and the cross was blocked. Harry Kane picked it up, played in Serge Aurier who struck, seemingly to make it 2-0. Spurs celebrated long and heartily. They had ridden their luck but prevailed, it appeared. Would this be the moment their rocky start eased out into a more stable period?
Then VAR became involved. A frame was selected. A line drawn from where the VAR imagined Son’s shoulder was, the arm not counting for offside. And by the margin of perhaps a centimetre an offside was called. After all, it either is or it isn’t: isn’t it? Except, we now know, that it isn’t.
To recap, the frame rate of 50 per second. Son is running at about 18mph. The margin of error is therefore is around 6cm. What the frame selected actually shows is that Son is probably onside when the ball is played.
In short, in these circumstances, VAR cannot be definitive. The principal of VAR is fine. But for tight offsides, such as these, the protocol is all wrong. Either that has to change or the law should be re-written to benefit attacking players.
Wilfred Ndidi thought he’d given Leicester the lead in the first half but his celebrations were to be short-lived
Referee Paul Tierney consulted VAR and Ndidi’s goal was subsequently ruled out with Ayoze Perez judged to be offside
Harry Kane gave Tottenham the lead on 29 minutes with a fine finish as his left foot finish flew past Kasper Schmeichel
Serge Aurier thought he’d given Tottenham a two-goal lead but his celebrations were cut short by VAR
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min was adjudged to be fractionally in an offside position in the build-up to the goal
The rule as newly applied under VAR is a regression to the law pre 1990, when level was offside and the rule encouraged offside traps and defensive football.
There is of course supreme irony is Tottenham finally being victims of VAR. Still, Mauricio Pochettino was commendable in his refusal to dwell on that decision. ‘We all accepted that system for the game and now I am going to complain,’ he said.
‘Maybe you can say it was or it wasn’t when it is not clear, but I trust in the referees. We need to analyse the game in a different way, not including VAR and accept that it’s completely fair. I’m not disappointed with that. I’m disappointed that we conceded two goals.
‘Of course, the emotion of the game changed with that decision and it and the belief it gave to Leicester made that different thing happen in the last ten minutes of the game.’
He was right that VAR is a distraction from what is going on at Spurs. Pochettino was broadly satisfied with the performance, feeling that only in the last quarter were Leicester in the ascendancy. To the neutral observer, Leicester looked every bit Tottenham’s equal, like a team ready to return to the top six and perhaps, in this season of relative mediocrity outside the leading two teams, to the top four.
‘It was a brilliant game but the performance level against a top-class side, to bring that level of game and emotion to the game meant I was I was very proud of the team,’ said Brendan Rodgers. ‘The players coped with everything the game.’
What should concern Pochettino more is the nose dive in form which the glorious Champions League run disguised. Since beating Borussia Dortmund 3-0 in February, a scintillating display, Spurs at their absolute best, their record is: P25 W8 L12 D5. The summer break has not rebooted then.
The mix of personalities, from chairman Daniel Levy to Pochettino himself to players such as Christian Eriksen (on the bench here) and Toby Alderweireld, who have been close to leaving, all of whom were so integral to their success in recent years, now seems to be stalling their progress.
Ricardo Pereira swept the ball home from close range on 69 minutes to make it 1-1 and change the course of the game
Maddison’s late goal stunned Spurs and his performance will have impressed the watching England boss Gareth Southgate
Tottenham, without captain Hugo Lloris, whose wife gave birth on Friday night, were better than they had been in the Champions League in midweek. They had weathered an early storm of Leicester attacks, with Maddison and Ayoze Perez maximising the space afforded them by Pochettino’s diamond formation.
Their VAR joker was played when they survived Wilfied N’Didi scrambling the ball over their goal-line, the remote ref spotting that Perez had been offside when he followed up the shot of Youri Tielemens, which had been spilled by stand-in keeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
And they scored an exceptional goal on 29 minutes. Lamela initially burst from midfield, fed Son, who sprinted goal-wards. It looked as though he was lost amidst a forest of defenders but a back heel changed the direction of play and confused them all. Kane just managed to reach it, shoved in the back by Jonny Evans. Surely conscious of criticism of what many deemed a dive against Arsenal, he battled on.
Now Caglar Soyuncu barged into him and he couldn’t stay on his feet. His balance gone he stumbled. It looked as though he thought about a dramatic dive, as his arms wen out but instead he retained such balance. Still, he was near enough horizontal, about to hit the floor when he realised he might just still connect with the bobbling ball. He twisted as fell, swung out his leg and somehow hooked it past Kasper Schmeichel. It was superb technique.
Leicester changed shape, matched the Spurs diamond and continued to harry them. Yet when they apparently conceded on 64 minutes, it looked like they were done. Their reprieve gave them renewed energy. Within seven minutes they had their equaliser, Maddison playing in Barnes, who fed Vardy. He, in turn, drilled the ball across goal for Ricardo Pereira to score.
Now there was only one winner. The momentum was all one way. Maddison confirmed it with his lovely curling strike from the edge of the box, when allowed too much space, on 86 minutes. It was a super goal, the only disappointment being that England manger Gareth Southgate had left the game two minutes earlier.
Doubtless he will catch up with the highlights. And he won’t have missed what went before. Leicester are nudging their way back into the elite and Maddison is at the heart of that.