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Leicester City 2 - 4 Tottenham Hotspur: Bale brace powers Spurs past Foxes

We needed a high note to end on. We got it.

Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Three goals in the second half, including a brace by Gareth Bale, saw Spurs come from behind to salvage the season and qualify for European football by the final score of 4-2.

Ryan Mason’s final selection of the season raised some eyebrow as Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko were all missing from the full squad. IN the build to the match, it was reported that Aurier was injured and the other three were not fit enough for selection. Mason opted to send Eric Dier to the bench and start Davinson Sanchez in the back line. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Winks started in the pivot with the attacking group of Dele, Steven Bergwijn, Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane up front.

Spurs started brightly in the opening minutes of the match, working the ball into the attacking third on a couple of occasions before Leicester had some opportunity. There wasn’t a clear scoring chance for either side but Anthony Taylor and VAR ended that in the 17th minute as Jamie Vardy was taken down by Toby Alderweireld in the penalty area. Taylor went to the monitor and confirmed the penalty, which Vardy buried to make it 1-0 early on.

After a few minutes of possession exchange following the goal, Spurs started to control the match with possession. They earned a corner kick and managed to get into the attacking third a couple more times, trying to unlock the shuffled Leicester defense after Wesley Fofana went out due to an injury.

Leicester were up to the task, defending well and keep Spurs at arm’s length to break up any attack. The Foxes had a decent chance to double their lead in the 36th minute on a long distance shot from Kelechi Iheanacho, but Hugo Lloris was able to gather it rather easily to end the attack.

Spurs missed a golden opportunity in the 38th minute on a lovely ball over the top to Son that left the Leicester back line standing. The Korean International’s first touch was a bad one, though, and he couldn’t poke the ball to Harry Kane to try and get a shot off. It felt like Spurs were knocking on the door and, indeed, they were.

In the 41st minute, Spurs earned a corner kick that led to a distance shot that was deflected. Son gathered it near the touch line and flipped the ball over the crowd to find Kane. The England captain one-timed a volley to blast it past a diving Kasper Schmeichel to level the score at one goal each.

The second half picked up where the first one left off as both sides pushed for a goal, knowing a draw meant nothing. In the 52nd minute, Jamie Vardy and Davinson Sanchez got tied up at the top of the penalty area. Taylor came up with a penalty call and VAR confirmed it, but the replay sure looked like Vardy tied his arm up with Sanchez and was looking to go down. It didn’t matter and Vardy buried the ensuing penalty to make it 2-1.

To Spurs credit, they came back almost immediately by pushing for net. Kane and Son broke toward Leicester’s net. Son drifted wide and was wide open but Kane opted to move to his left food and take a shot but the strike wasn’t true and never threatened Schmeichel.

Leicester took control of the match after that miss, forcing Spurs into a double change at the 67th minute by bringing on Lucas and Gareth Bale as Dele and Bergwijn made way. Spurs had just under a half-hour to salvage the season to get European football.

The change did give Spurs a bit of life, earning a couple of free kicks and corner kicks by the 76th minute with the best chance coming good with the final corner. Sonny fired in a dangerous corner that brought together about six bodies and it looked like Sanchez got his head to it. The ball ended up in the net but the last replay showed that Schmeichel had the ball go off the back of his hand, resulting in an own goal. 2-2 and Spurs were pushing hard for the winner.

Spurs pressure ramped up and they were rewarded for it in the 88th minute. Breaking on the counter after a crucial tackle by Sanchez, Bale led the break with Kane and Son. The movement brought Schmeichel out of position and Kane fed it back to a streaking Bale in the middle of the box. A single one-timed effort later and Bale put Spurs ahead 3-2. VAR checked for a handball and everyone in the writer’s room thought it would be pulled back, but VAR gave the goal.

Leicester threw the kitchen sink at Spurs after giving up the go-ahead goal. Schmeichel came up for a couple of corner kicks, the last of which led to Hugo making a save off the line but was ultimately ruled offside. Mason opted for one more sub, bringing on Joe Rodon for Son to go ultra-defensive and park the bus. Spurs took all the pressure and finally cracked Leicester for the last time. Bale carried the ball into the box and put a shot off the post before casually scoring the rebound to kill the game for good.

Thoughts on the Match:

  • Without about 20 minutes to go, things looked to be the worst situation possible: No Europe, below Arsenal, ending on the lowest notes. INSTEAD.....
  • The sub of Bale and Lucas made a huge difference. Bale ran right at Leicester every chance he got and changed the match with his two goals.
  • Harry Kane wins the golden boot with his goal today as well. He wanted more, but one was enough.
  • Spurs finish the season in seventh place and qualify for Conference League, keeping their stretch of European qualification alive since the 2009-10 season.
  • Imagine being Arsenal and not being able to finish above Tottenham during their worst season since 08/09. Yeah, enjoy that banter everyone.
  • This season has been rough but it ended on a high note. Spurs now enter a summer with a lot of important decisions to make, the first being finding the man to lead them from the manager’s box. While we have an idea who is on the shortlist, there’s probably more drama in that.
  • Enjoy the win and the rest of your Sunday. The off-season is officially here and it means SILLY SEASON IS UPON US!

Live post-match reaction from Jonathan and Andres