Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League ambitions were dealt a significant blow after they slipped to a 3-1 defeat against an impressive Leeds United side on Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Mason unsurprisingly named an unchanged side from the XI that put four past bottom club Sheffield United last week, hat-trick hero Gareth Bale looking to continue his recent impressive form.
The hosts had failed to win any of their last three league games, yet made a fast start at Elland Road. Patrick Bamford saw an early strike turned behind by Hugo Lloris, before they grabbed a deserved lead after just 13 minutes, Stuart Dallas lashing high into the roof of the net from close range after an initial good stop once again from Lloris.
That early advantage lasted just over ten minutes as the visitors drew level, Dele Alli with a delightful through ball to tee up Heung-min Son, the Korean international duly slotting home for his 17th Premier League goal of the season.
The north London side looked as though they’d completed a swift turnaround midway through the first-half, Harry Kane latching onto another Alli through ball to dink over an onrushing Illan Meslier, before VAR intervened to deny the England captain, with what was an extremely marginal offside decision.
In an enthralling, end-to-end first period, it was the home side who nudged ahead once again on the stroke of half-time, Patrick Bamford tapping in after an excellent pull-back from Ezgjan Alioski down the left.
In desperate need of the win to keep their top four hopes alive, Spurs started the second-half brightly, their best chance seeing Kane’s excellent free-kick agonisingly strike the crossbar.
With the game nearing its climax, the home side dealt a telling blow to Spurs’ Champions League ambitions, summer signing Rodrigo rounding off a lovely team move following good work from Raphinha, the Brazilian surviving a tight offside call in the build-up.
That late strike ultimately sealed the three points for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, while it ensured that his counterpart would slip to his first league defeat as interim boss.
𝗙𝗨𝗟𝗟-𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘 ⏱ Defeat at Elland Road.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 8, 2021
After what was a ‘difficult’ afternoon, the 29-year-old was left frustrated by the controversial offside decision in the first-half.
“It was a difficult game. Both teams caused each other problems,” he told BT Sport.
“They started bright and got the early goal but we got back into the game. In my opinion it wasn’t offside (for Kane’s disallowed goal). We created chances at 2-1 down but weren’t clinical. They caught us on the counter chasing the game.”
VAR time! 🙃
Harry Kane's goal is disallowed as his toenail pokes past the offside line ❌ pic.twitter.com/82RVpBRIjc
— Goal (@goal) May 8, 2021
That disallowed goal came with the game level at 1-1, Mason insisting that the decision ultimately altered the course of the match.
“I get it if it is an inch offside. If it is off, it is off. It is a tight decision but in my opinion, it is not offside. You don’t understand the momentum shift that can have in football. It is a totally different mindset at 2-1.”
That disappointing result has left Spurs in sixth and five points behind Chelsea in fourth, with the interim boss left ruing a handful of missed opportunities in the second period.
“We created moments in the second half. Sonny had one wide, Harry hit the bar. In the Premier League, you have to take those,” he said.
“Leeds are a fit team. We had an idea of how we wanted to play. The second half you see what we were trying to do. I said all along that the next game is most important. We are disappointed and now our focus is on next week.”
Tottenham are next in action at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers next Sunday.