Tottenham face another season out of the Champions League after losing 3-1 at Leeds United, two years to the day after reaching the final. Tottenham’s latest defeat leaves them five points off fourth place with three games of the Premier League season remaining.
Leeds dominated Tottenham, whose Champions League hopes are now hanging by a very thin thread
Richard Jolly was at Elland Road for this one. His report has landed, so get clicking below. Thanks for reading this MBM.
On BT Sport, Rio Ferdinand explodes in glorious righteous indignation, having spotted Erik Lamela attempting a crossfield rabona pass when 3-1 down with minutes remaining. It flew out of play. Ferdinand suggests that, had somebody tried that during his days at Manchester United, “there would have been people in a queue trying to get at the person who done it ... there would have been a conversation after ... some people might look at this saying ‘he’s only tried a rabona’, but it’s what that means, what that signals to the opposing team. They’re not serious. They ain’t serious about this. They’re little moments that shape the way the team is seen and how it feels, how it’s perceived. You gotta look right.”
A bitterly disappointed Ryan Mason talks to BT Sport. “We had moments, opportunities, but we were not clinical enough at times. They started bright, got in the lead, but we got a goal back and at 1-1 there was an offside decision ... I’m shocked, I can’t believe it’s been given offside to be perfectly honest. I don’t think people understand the shift in momentum decisions like that can have in a game of football. 2-1 is a completely different game. Second half we had opportunities and big moments that didn’t go in for us, and we were chasing the game and they got one on the counter. My first, second and tenth look is that it’s not an offside decision. In my opinion they got that one wrong. It’s a disappointing result that hurts. We will focus on the next game.”
A word with Patrick Bamford, who scored his 15th goal of the season today. “The first half was definitely stronger for us than the second, they came back into it a little bit. But we stood strong and they’re a top team with top players. We had to be fully concentrated all the time. That goal at the end settled a few nerves, I think. The last few games, for some reason, we’ve shored up at the back a little bit, we’re not shipping as many chances, but we’ve barely created any in the last four or five games. So it’s been frustrating for me, but obviously it’s nice today that we got the balance right. Our wingers were brilliant. They put the ball in the right position, they were difficult goals to defend. I didn’t set myself a figure at the start of the season, I thought double figures would be respectable, but since I’ve pushed past ten, I’ve been trying to get as many as I can. It’s nice to get on the scoresheet.”
After that thoroughly deserved, comprehensive, impressive win, Leeds United rise to ninth place in the Premier League table with 50 points. Tottenham remain in sixth on 56, five points off fourth-placed Chelsea, who have a game in hand. If third-placed Leicester win one more game, and Chelsea win two, Spurs can’t qualify for the Champions League, even if they win their remaining three fixtures.
Leeds are on course for a top-half finish. Tottenham’s dreams of qualifying for the Champions League look a pipe dream now.
90 min +3: The BT cameras pick out Daniel Levy in the stand, miserable behind his mask. “The reason Spurs are in this position is because Levy should never have fired Poch,” begins Adam Levine. “Then he should never have appointed Mourinho. Then he fired Mourinho which was entirely financially motivated and was probably the wrong thing to do at this time of the season. Then he appoints Ryan Mason only because he is available and cheap. There is no other walk of life where someone would fail so publicly and so consistently and still be in the job. Except politics obviously.”
90 min +2: Lamela tries to put a sheen on the scoreline with an effort from a tight angle on the left, but it’s no good.
90 min +1: Dallas aims a curler towards the top right. Lloris saves well to avoid the score becoming slightly embarrassing for Spurs.
90 min: There will be four added minutes. Spurs just want to go home.
89 min: Klich makes way for Phillips. A reminder that Leeds have been sensational today despite the absence of their star midfielder. What a team Bielsa has built, like that’s breaking news.
88 min: Leeds, Leeds, Leeds continue to press, press, press. Spurs are forced into giving up possession again, and Rodrigo surges down the inside right. He can’t quite dribble his way through the Spurs defence, but gives it a good go.
86 min: Unless Spurs can conjure up three goals in the last three minutes plus stoppages, their hopes of a top-four finish, already slim before kick-off, are kaput.
85 min: There’s a VAR check, but Raphinha was played onside by Dier.
Raphinha is sent scampering down the left by Klich. He’s in acres. He crosses towards Rodrigo, on the penalty spot. Rodrigo meets the ball first time and sweeps it into the bottom left. What a lovely, smooth, clinical break!
82 min: Klick is inches away from curling into the top right from 25 yards. Not sure Lloris was getting to that.
81 min: It’s great end-to-end stuff. Dier whistles a cross in from the left. Alioski volleys clear. Leeds counter, Raphinha crossing deep from his left flank. Reguilon heads confidently back to Lloris.
80 min: Spurs respond by replacing Lo Celso with Ndombele.
79 min: Leeds make their second change. Rodrigo comes on for Bamford.
77 min: Kane and Lo Celso exchange passes down the inside-left channel. Lo Celso takes a whack from a tight angle. Meslier sticks a leg out to block. This game continues to breathlessly entertain.
76 min: Raphinha, Bamford, Klich, Bamford, Harrison, Bamford and Harrison combine, painting pretty triangles, left to right across the face of the Spurs box. Eventually Harrison launches over the bar from ten yards. And yes, there does appear to be a couple of Harrisons and three Bamfords on the pitch right now. Leeds are like that when in full flight.
75 min: Lo Celso dribble with purpose down the left. He dinks into a crowded six-yard box. With Kane winding his neck back, preparing to head home, Alioski eyebrows out for a corner, from which nothing happens.
73 min: Spurs having come so close to equalising, Leeds now romp upfield and nearly make it 3-1. Raphinha dribbles down the left and rolls infield for Klich, who looks to have a free shot from ten yards. He shoots, but suddenly Alderweireld appears from nowhere, sliding in to block. That’s some mighty fine last-ditch defending.
72 min: From the corner, Harrison tries to counter, but hauls back Reguilon by the shoulder and it’s a free kick, just to the left of the D. Kane’s eyes light up. He takes, and aims a curler towards the top right. It hits the top of the bar. Meslier probably had that covered had it been on target.
71 min: Lucas works his way down the right and sends a surprise shot towards the top right when everyone was expecting a cross. A big deflection off Alioski, too. Meslier does extremely well to adjust and tip over the bar. Fine reaction save.
70 min: Lamela slips, allowing Koch to make off with the ball. He’s got Bamford up with him, Spurs light at the back, but the pair get their wires crossed and Koch passes into a big fat wide open space.
68 min: Alioski hassles Lucas from behind, irritating the sub into swinging an arm. It connects with his face. Just a yellow card.
67 min: Spurs make a double change. Alli, who has faded since the break, is replaced by Lamela, while Bale makes way for Lucas Moura, who two years ago to the day did this:
66 min: Son takes the set piece himself. Bamford clears.
65 min: Harrison nudges Son to the ground out on the left wing. Free kick. A chance for Spurs to load the box.
63 min: Alioski crosses from a deep position on the left, surprising the Spurs defence and nearly finding Bamford free. The ball’s half cleared. Harrison then grooves down the right. He pulls back for Klich, who sends a rising snapshot towards the top right. Lloris parries brilliantly. What a save! Dallas picks up the rebound and earns a free kick near the left-hand corner flag, but the resulting set piece is a waste of time.
61 min: Reguilon goes into the book for an extremely soft brush on Raphinha’s ankle.
60 min: Kane slips a pass in from the left. Son takes a whack from the edge of the D. Struijk gets across to block, deflecting out for a corner that leads to nowt.
59 min: Raphinha takes up his position on the left. Harrison ambles over to the opposite flank, shoving Dallas infield.
58 min: Dier strokes a long pass down the left for Kane, who nearly worms his way into the Leeds box. Not quite, but it’s yet another example of Tottenham’s growing confidence, and Marcelo Bielsa has decided to shake things up. Roberts is replaced by Raphinha.
56 min: Lo Celso intercepts a Leeds attack and slips a pass down the inside-left channel for Son, who enters the box and lashes into the side netting. That was a decent chance; you’d expect Son to be more clinical there. But Spurs are getting back into this.
55 min: Kane mooches in from the left. No options. He decides to get a shot away, but drags it wide left.
53 min: A little bit of space for Roberts, 25 yards out. He screws a poor shot wide left and claims a free kick, having been clipped from behind by Bale, but the referee isn’t interested.
51 min: Harrison crosses from the left to win a Leeds corner. Dallas takes. Lloris flaps it away at the far post, allowing Son to break. Koch cynically trips him, and it’s the first yellow card of the afternoon.
49 min: Kane has the ball in the net again, and up pops the flag once more. There’s no need for the old VAR rulers here, as he’s sent free down the left channel, six yards off, and he rounds Meslier before whipping home just for practice.
48 min: Son drops a shoulder and gets the better of Dallas down the left, but nearly runs the ball out for a goal kick, and his desperate last-ditch cross is easily snaffled by Meslier.
46 min: Spurs ship possession with indecent haste, allowing Alioski to scamper down the left yet again. Dier deals with the resulting cross, but that’s not exactly the statement start to the second half by the visitors, who need a couple of goals if they’re to keep their top-four dream alive.
Spurs get the second half underway. No changes.
The hosts deservedly lead at the break, though Dele Alli has done his best to keep the visitors on terms. It’s been great fun. Tottenham’s slim hopes of a top-four finish are in a little bit of jeopardy right now.
45 min: There will be one added minute. This game has barely stopped.
44 min: Leeds, for the first time since the get-go, slow things down a little, with half time in sight.
43 min: All three goals, for differing reasons, have been right out of the top drawer. This has been a wonderfully entertaining half of football. More, please!
This is such a lovely team goal. Dallas picks up a loose Dier header down the right and drives infield. Roberts gets involved as Dallas is clipped. The referee waves play on. Harrison slips Alioski into space down the left. Alioski crosses low, and Bamford can’t miss from six yards.
40 min: Harrison and Alioski combine smoothly down the left. Harrison caresses a cross with the outside of his boot. It’s only a couple of inches over Bamford’s head. Goal kick.
38 min: Alli snaffles a loose ball and launches another charge, laying off for Son, who finds Kane. The England captain over-elaborates and the move fizzles out, but at the risk of belabouring the point, this is really impressive stuff from Alli.
36 min: Alli is here, there and everywhere, offering Tottenham’s otherwise ponderous midfield some much-needed energy. One superb assist already, plus a millimetre away from another. He looks bang on top of his game again, which is lovely to see.
34 min: So now it’s a corner on the left. Koch aims a header towards the top left. The ball skims off Bale’s noggin, and out for another corner, which Spurs make a meal of clearing, but do so eventually.
33 min: This is a great game. Dallas fizzes one in from the right. Roberts misses the chance to trundle it home by inches, then the ball clanks off Aurier before being cleared in the hectic style.
32 min: VAR checks, and though Kane looked yards offside to the naked eye - and Spurs don’t complain - it’s very close indeed. The decision stands, but only by a millimetre or two.
31 min: A lovely move by Spurs here, as Son and Alli combine down the inside-right channel. Alli flicks deliciously inside to release Kane, who flicks insouciantly over Meslier and into the bottom right. The flag goes up immediately for offside.
30 min: Koch heads the corner harmlessly behind. But this has been a fine response from Leeds to the shock of conceding an equaliser against the run of play.
29 min: The corner leads to a long game of pinball. Eventually the ball breaks to Koch, who drives from 25 yards. His effort is deflected out for another corner.
28 min: Leeds gather themselves, Harrison working his way down the left again. He cuts inside and looks for the top right. His shot is heading in, but Lloris gets a fingertip to it. Fine save, and it’s a corner.
27 min: Spurs had achieved nothing up until that point. That’ll be a huge blow to Leeds, who had appeared comfortable, in control, and the most likely to get the next goal. But now look.
Out of nothing, Spurs level. This is a sensational run by Alli, who sashays down the middle, draws a couple of white shirts, and dinks a little pass down the inside-right channel to release Son. He’s clear on goal, and never doing anything except slotting into the bottom right. Lovely finish, but what an assist by Alli!
24 min: Alioski nearly releases Bamford down the left. Bamford can’t quite get the better of Aurier. Spurs go up the other end, and ...
23 min: Roberts and Bamford are both caught offside, needlessly so, as Leeds build an attack down the left. As the flag pops up, so does Bielsa, beside himself with fury at his players’ carelessness. That’ll be mentioned at half time, I’ll be bound.
21 min: Lo Celso drops deep to help out his defenders. He intercepts, then drives down the middle of the park, eating up 60 yards, before slipping a pass down the left channel in the hope of releasing Kane. Koch is wise to the caper, and slides in to toe-poke the pass away. Great play all round.
19 min: It’s been lovely and level in terms of possession: 49 to 51 so far.
18 min: Bale, Son and Alli combine neatly down the inside-right channel. They can’t quite open Leeds up this time, but they weren’t far off making space for a shot, and that’ll give the visitors succour.
17 min: Leeds push Spurs back. A free kick is launched into the mixer from the left. Then a throw. Some minor bedlam. The hosts clearly fancy their chances down this flank, having already hit paydirt.
15 min: Harrison’s cross was all but impossible to defend. Stunning. Spurs look to respond immediately, winning a corner down the left. Son delivers, Bale flicks on, but there’s nobody in green lurking and Struijk hammers clear.
A bit of space out on the left for Harrison, who whips a stunning low cross through the six-yard box. Dier swipes and misses. Reguilon hangs out a leg and connects. The ball flies towards the bottom right. Lloris reacts magnificently to parry, saving the own goal, but Dallas is lurking and roofs the rebound from close range!
12 min: Roberts has a speculative dig from distance. The ball deflects high into the air and it’s easy pickings for Lloris.
10 min: Had that chance fell to Bamford, you’d expect the net to have billowed like billy-o. On the touchline, Bielsa sits on his bucket, oblivious to the rain hammering his head.
8 min: The corner on the right leads to another on the left. That second one’s hit long. Harrison turns it back at the far post, the ball falling to Struijk, six yards out. The defender connects well, pivoting as he shoots, but leans back and sends it over the bar.
7 min: Leeds have yet to put anything together that remotely an attack ... and just as I type those words, Harrison slips Bamford into space down the inside-left channel. He steps into the box and swivels, hitting a crisp shot towards the bottom right. Lloris does extremely well to turn it around the post for a corner.
6 min: The resulting corner, hit flat by Lo Celso, is a fails-to-beat-first-man atrocity.
5 min: A little bit of space for Kane out on the right. He crosses, looking for Son, but Llorente steps in to head behind for the game’s first corner.
4 min: Other than that, it’s been a fairly nondescript, albeit high-paced, bordering on frantic, start.
2 min: The rain has been tipping down all morning, so it’ll be interesting to see how the pitch holds up. According to Steve McManaman on BT co-comms, the ground staff have been attacking it with all manner of garden tools. The ball seems to be rolling just fine right now, so it’s a good job done.
The teams are out! Leeds are in their famous clobber, as selected by Real Madrid fan Don Revie, forcing fellow white fetishists Spurs into second-choice green. It’s a rainy day at Elland Road. We’ll be off in a couple of sodden minutes.
Ryan Mason’s turn in front of the BT cameras. “Winning matches breeds confidence. It was important we bounced back from the cup final defeat last weekend. It’s another difficult match today but we’re going to be ready and hopefully put in a positive performance. Everyone around the club is aware that this is a big game for us.”
To further illustrate this, captain Harry Kane adds, upon being asked about Champions League qualification: “From our point of view we have to win all four games to have any chance, really. Obviously it starts here today, it’s going to be a tough game. But we’re looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s a chance for us to finish the season strong and put a little positive note on it.”
Bielsa bonus. He also reports that “Liam Cooper has a small knock in his gluteus and that’s why he’s not here today.”
Marcelo Bielsa, talking to BT Sport, analyses the difference in Spurs since Jose Mourinho chipped off and Ryan Mason took over. “There are changes in the way they play. Spurs are a team who push more into the opponent’s half and try to manage more of the ball. In any case, given the level of the players, they still generate worry.”
Both teams are unchanged. Leeds name the same XI that lost at Brighton, though both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha return from injury to take up places on the bench. Liam Cooper misses out with a knock. Spurs, having stuck four past Sheffield United, stick with their all-new kitchen-sink approach to attack. Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Gareth Bale will give this top-four tilt all they’ve got.
Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski, Koch, Dallas, Klich, Roberts, Harrison, Bamford.
Subs: Poveda, Casilla, Raphinha, Hernandez, Rodrigo, Phillips, Davis, Berardi, Shackleton.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon, Lo Celso, Hojbjerg, Bale, Alli, Son, Kane.
Subs: Doherty, Sanchez, Winks, Lamela, Hart, Sissoko, Bergwijn, Lucas Moura, Ndombele.
Leeds, it’s Tottenham. They beat you fairly comprehensively in January, 3-0, and are on a two-game winning run in the Premier League as they keep their faint hopes of snatching a top-four place alive. You, on the other hand, are comfortable in mid-table and are almost impossible to read, having recently deservedly won at Manchester City and lost limply at Brighton.
Will your wise old boss Marcelo Bielsa do a tactical number on his wet-behind-the-ears counterpart Ryan Mason, the pair separated by 36 years and 710 games of experience? Or will Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min prove too much for you, given you’ve lost seven of the past eight games without Kalvin Phillips, who is likely to be missing this afternoon? It’s all very much in the balance. It’s also very much on. You’re on!Continue reading...
Tottenham can testify how far an overachieving Argentinian manager can take a team; Mauricio Pochettino steered them to a Champions League final. But as his mentor, Marcelo Bielsa, lifted Leeds to ninth with his brand of vibrancy, energy and a capacity to propel players beyond their natural limits, Spurs’ chances of a return to the European elite were effectively ended.Continue reading...
This will be the second of three huge meetings between these sides at the end of the season