Tottenham power past Leicester to advance in FA Cup
Third time’s a charm. After drawing with the Foxes in the first of their three encounters, and then losing to them again on home field in the league, Tottenham finally got over the hump and advanced to the fourth round of the FA Cup, courtesy of a 2-0 win Wednesday night at the King Power Stadium.
Two moments of brilliance from Heung-Min Son led Spurs, as he scored the first with a thunderbolt then set up Nacer Chadli’s insurance goal with a quarter of the game remaining. The result eliminates Leicester from the tournament and sends the Londoners to a meeting at Colchester FC. Certainly that tie, against a side currently second from last in the third division of English football, will be an easier one for a Tottenham side that got all they wanted and more from the scrappy Foxes.
This was not the vintage football seen in the teams’ past two encounters. The first meeting in the third round was a 2-2 thriller that was a bit cruel on Leicester; the second was one of the better displays seen this year in the Premier League. But if it did not hit the heights, it was understandable why: both the sides had to be sick of each other after an unusual and packed ten-day period that saw the sides meet three times with another game inbetween.
The Foxes, who have been the shock of the season, have cooled slightly since the holiday period, but are still playing well enough to be level atop the league on points with Arsenal. Yet there has always been a question about the depth of their squad and how long they could hold out when the matches started to come past and thick. Today, we got a partial answer to that question as Leicester never looked in this game, only rarely challenging Michel Vorm in the goal.
Everything tonight for Leicester went through Daniel Drinkwater, a capable and hardworking enough player – but not the caliber of Christian Eriksen or Erik Lamela, and certainly not the equal of Son. That meant also the Foxes were far too narrow, with Spurs able to fly out wide at will, with Kyle Walker pumping in balls for Chadli and Son to feed off of, while Mark Albrighton was on his heels.
The first goal came off one of many midfield giveaways from Leicester. Lamela picked up a loose ball and slotted it neatly up for Son. With Ben Chilwell conceding far too much space at the top of the area, Son simply lined up the near top corner and blew the ball in past a stunned Kasper Schmeichel in the 40th minute. It was a classy strike, but you got the feeling it was also a preventable one, and it spoke a bit to Leicester’s lack of energy on the night.
The Foxes made a little more of a fist of it after the break with Demarai Gray forcing Vorm into his only real stop of the game, a diving parry off a curling ball from the top left. Nathan Dyer was there and waiting for the rebound, but scuffed his chance. But that energy only lasted for about five minutes, and after it was gone, so was Leicester.
Chadli would then bury the tie when he collected a ball from Son that was passed through the legs of Yohan Benaloune and slammed it home at the near post. Schmeichel will not be pleased to have conceded two goals on the evening at the near post, but in fairness to him, only one was savable.
Albrighton had a very late effort that slipped through the back, but Vorm was the equal to it to preserve the clean sheet.
Leicester are likely to be disappointed by the result as the FA Cup was an achievable target for them, but the fact remains they can also secure the far richer prize of European football if they can hang on. The Foxes also face a punishing four weeks, with games against Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Stoke all in the immediate future, and won’t likely rue missing the extra fixtures.