Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Mauricio Pochettino 'very proud' after Tottenham battle past Leicester to keep title hopes alive

A 3-1 win at Wembley Stadium ensures Spurs keep gap on leaders Liverpool to five points

Christian Eriksen scored the second goal in Tottenham's win over Leicester. Getty Images
Christian Eriksen scored the second goal in Tottenham's win over Leicester. Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino praised Tottenham Hotspur's "fantastic spirit" after battling to a 3-1 victory over Leicester City on Sunday to keep alive their hopes in the Premier League title race.

Goals from Davinson Sanchez, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min helped Tottenham overcome Leicester in an entertaining match at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham went ahead through Colombian defender Sanchez, who scored his first goal for Spurs by meeting Eriksen's cross with a diving header in the 33rd minute, although Leicester's players complained he was in an offside position.

Leicester missed the chance to equalise on the hour mark when substitute Jamie Vardy's penalty - his first touch after coming on - was pushed away by Hugo Lloris after Jan Vertonghen was adjudged to have fouled James Maddison in the box.

Tottenham doubled their lead three minutes later as Eriksen collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a fierce shot past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Vardy made up for his earlier miss by tapping in from close range 14 minutes from the final whistle after a well worked move allowed Ricardo Pereira to drill in a cross from the right.

After a sustained period of Leicester pressure, Son settled nerves of the home supporters by slotting in Tottenham's third with a solo run from the halfway line.

Victory took title contenders Tottenham to 60 points from 26 matches, five points behind leaders Liverpool and two behind Manchester City, who face Chelsea in the later fixture.

"I feel very proud - again a fantastic spirit, a fantastic result," Pochettino told Sky Sports. "It was tough, Leicester played so well. If you want to fight for big things, you have to be a little lucky - and luck was one our side today.

"But we deserved it because we fought hard, and I need to congratulate my players. Their effort was fantastic."

Tottenham had goalkeeper Loris to thank for the victory, his penalty save just a part of his contribution, which also included keeping out an early close range header from Harry Maguire and a second half block to deny Harvey Barnes.

And the France captain's contribution was not lost on his manager.

"Hugo was key - he is one of the best keepers in the world," Pochettino said. "When you need this type of performance from your top players, he was there. He will be feeling fantastic after that, because he as helped the team get the three points after a game that was a big challenge for us."

Eriksen said Tottenham had showed plenty of character to see off a determined Leicester, a quality that could help them in Wednesday's Uefa Champions League last-16 first leg clash against Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund.

"We didn't make life easy for ourselves," the Danish midfielder said. "The last three games we won in the last 10 minutes, which shows the character of the team and we did that again today. It's going to be the same on Wednesday."

Leicester manager Claude Puel bemoaned his side's finishing. Leicester produced 20 shots to Tottenham's 12, with nine on target, but wastefulness in front of goal and Loris's fine display denied the away side at least a share of the points.

"Throughout the game we had a feeling we can score... we had chances and half chances," the Frenchman said. "It's difficult to accept with all the good intention to go without the reward.

"We need a little more conviction and a clinical edge."

While Pochettino was delighted with his side's effort, the Argentine was not particularly pleased with the performance of referee Michael Oliver, specifically the booking of Son for a perceived dive in the penalty area.

"It was unbelievable, unbelievable," he said. "When you compare the situation with the penalty for Leicester, unbelievable. That’s what I said to Michael.

"Then you look at Liverpool and the last minute. Same referee. I’m more relaxed because we won. Do you think that we’re a team trying to cheat a referee? Come on, we’re one of the nicest teams on the pitch."

Updated: February 10, 2019 08:57 PM



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