LEEDS // If there is any consolation for Tottenham Hotspur after the most harrowing day of Andre Villas-Boas's reign, it is that their next opponents are in no position to gloat.
Spurs travel to Carrow Road on Wednesday to visit a Norwich City side eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league opposition, in Luton Town.
Tottenham only perished to a mid-table Championship team, in Leeds United, but, for a club chasing a Champions League place, that was embarrassment enough.
Villas-Boas's hopes of ending his first year at White Hart Lane with silverware now rest on the Europa League after a side short of both strikers and spirit were deservedly defeated at Elland Road.
"It is obviously disappointing," Villas-Boas said. "We wanted to go through. We could have done better both offensively and defensively."
It amounted to a wonderful afternoon for Leeds. There was a time when, like Tottenham, they were among the giants. Now they are giant killers, knocking Everton out of the Capital One Cup and claiming a still more notable scalp yesterday.
"When you look at the two team sheets on paper, you don't know how the heck we are going to have a kick, let alone beat them," said the Leeds manager Neil Warnock. "But you don't win football games on paper."
And on the Elland Road pitch, theirs was a terrific display, full of effort and endeavour and embellished with moments of quality. Across the pitch, there were performances to savour.
Luke Varney and Ross McCormack, who led from the front with their constant running, each got a goal as a reward.
Michael Brown rolled back the years with a midfield performance of niggly effectiveness.
Sam Byram, the 19-year-old right-back, celebrated his new contract by keeping Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon quieter than many a Premier League defender will.
Lee Peltier produced a brilliant last-minute challenge just when Tottenham threatened an equaliser. For too much of the game, however, they did too little.
Leeds assumed the ascendant and then took the lead. Brown, whose many former clubs include Tottenham, was the instigator of the move, hooking a pass forward towards El-Hadji Diouf.
He missed it but, with Spurs preoccupied by the Senegalese striker, it ran on into the path of the winger Varney who accelerated into the box, steadied himself and bent a shot around Brad Friedel.
"Luke had so much time," Warnock added.
Later than he should have done, McCormack gave them a two-goal advantage.
It amounted to an unusual one-two with McCormack heading a clearance back to his strike partner Diouf and then spinning and sprinting into space to latch on to his lob. He then skipped past Steven Caulker before beating Friedel.
His goal was sandwiched by two chances he probably should have taken. Friedel twice denied the Scot when he went through on goal.
Yet he was far from the most profligate player on show. That, sadly for him, was Clint Dempsey.
The American was Tottenham's scorer, halving their deficit with a glancing header from Bale's cross, but the salient statistic was that it was his sixth attempt. The fifth, directed wastefully wide from Lennon's cross, was particularly enticing. "We still crated a couple of good chances that normally we score," Villas-Boas said.
Yet the responsibility for converting them fell on Dempsey's shoulders. With Emmanuel Adebayor at the African Cup of Nations and Jermain Defoe sidelined by a minor injury, he had to become an auxiliary attacker.
"We understand an injury can put us in a difficult position," Villas-Boas added.
"Obviously it is a risk we are willing to take. We are happy with the options we have."
Yet a striking shortage cost Spurs and, lacking Defoe's turn of pace, they struggled to escape the Leeds defence.
They, like much of the Leeds side, came in for praise from Warnock. "The spine was fabulous," he said. "When we play like today, it makes me really proud to be a manager. I said to the lads, 'you're my type of players'." And it was his type of day.
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