Robert Huth’s late header enhanced Leicester City’s hopes of a top-four Premier League finish — and potentially more — as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.
Claudio Ranieri’s side are now eight points clear of fifth place, with only goal difference keeping them below leaders Arsenal, and the chase for Champions League qualification is back on after a three-game winless run.
It was remarkable that for all the creative talent on show, Huth won the game in the simplest of fashion as the tallest man on the field found himself unmarked in the 83rd minute to head in a corner.
If the billing for the game was a contest to see who would come out on top in the shoot-out between England’s two in-form strikers, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, it was goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Kasper Schmeichel who threatened to steal the show.
Vardy had only completed a full day’s training prior to the match, having undergone minor surgery on a groin problem at the beginning of the month.
But he was recalled by Leicester manager Ranieri in one of nine changes to the team that had earned an FA Cup replay with a 2-2 draw at the same ground three days earlier.
The bustling Vardy showed few ill-effects, but found himself outjumped by Toby Alderweireld from a corner, forcing Schmeichel into a fine save as the Belgian’s header bounced towards the top corner.
Spurs announced on Tuesday that Dele Alli had signed a new deal and the England midfielder showed a glimpse of his gifts prior to Alderweireld’s chance as he swivelled on the edge of the area and drove just wide.
Along with Alli, N’Golo Kante has been one of the most impressive central midfielders in the division this season and the Leicester player was busy in the early stages keeping Alli, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela quiet.
Kante foiled Spurs to the point that the visitors looked the more likely to score, as spells of Spurs possession broke down and Leicester countered at speed.
Kane hits bar
Vardy got in the way of one effort from team-mate Shinji Okazaki, before the Japan international brilliantly spun past Alderweireld, only for Eric Dier to come up with a vital touch to take the ball away.
Okazaki’s cushioned header then helped create the moment of the first half as Danny Drinkwater hit a volley that was arrowing into the corner before Lloris flung himself across his goal to divert it wide.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was furious, swiping at the north London air as his side failed to assert their authority against opponents he was looking to move to within a point of.
Vardy fired a deflected effort over at the beginning of the second period as Pochettino continued to stomp around his technical area, before Lamela squandered a good chance by sweeping his finish wide.
Vardy’s relentless running then forced Kyle Walker into an error, as the right-back played a pass short of his goalkeeper, who was obliged to fling himself at the Leicester number nine’s feet to avert the danger.
Typical of the game’s pattern, Spurs were next to threaten as Lamela sent Kane through on goal, but with the home fans rising to their feet, Schemichel managed to force the ball onto the bar. Alli’s follow-up was cleared.
Lamela missed another presentable chance before two fine blocks denied Leicester’s goal-bound efforts from Riyad Mahrez and substitute Leonardo Ulloa.
Schmeichel then saved a fierce Alli drive, with Pochettino having called Mousa Dembele and Son Heung-Min from the bench in search of a winning goal.
But it was Leicester who grabbed it as Christian Fuch’s away-swinging corner was planted into the top corner by Huth.
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