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Kane and Son seal Tottenham’s romp to leave Leeds and Bielsa in trouble

Premier League

Sat 26 Feb 2022 14.41 GMT

The temperature was a trifle lower than Antonio Conte may have wanted but, in so many ways, this trip to West Yorkshire proved every bit as restorative as a week in the sun at the Tottenham manager’s favourite resort hotel in Sardinia.

All those not so veiled threats about walking out after losing at Burnley last Wednesday were forgotten as, with Harry Kane and Ryan Sessegnon excelling, Spurs repeatedly cantered through Leeds’s defence, reviving their slender, Champions League qualification hopes along the way.

For Leeds, the statistics are damning. Despite possessing one of the Premier League’s most admired goalkeepers, they have conceded 60 League goals this season, more than anyone else, and have collected one point from the last possible 18.

With relegation a real threat it is no longer fanciful to ask if Marcelo Bielsa will still be in charge in May.

Jesse Marsch, who left Leipzig in December, is believed to have quite a fanclub in the Elland Road boardroom but for the moment at least Bielsa remains defiant. “It was a fair result,” he said.

“Of course this situation is serious but of course I have confidence I can turn it round. But there is no way of not feeling bad. What I am proposing is not working. My players are making enormous efforts to obstruct our opponents but we’ve lost efficiency.”

Conte proved somewhat brighter. “We played a really good game,” he said. “Today is a starting point for us to try for the rest of the season to improve. Sometimes I use strong words but with only one target: to improve.”

Given that Sessegnon enjoyed such a fine game it was appropriate that the left wing-back’s cross prefaced the opening goal for the on-rushing Matt Doherty. The right wing-back took that delivery seamlessly in his stride, lifting a first-time shot over Illan Meslier after 10 minutes.

The goalkeeper was beaten again five minutes later. This time the danger derived from the right where the on-loan winger Dejan Kulusevski assumed possession, played a slick one-two with Doherty, cut inside and, having evaded Junior Firpo, deceived Meslier by fixing his eyes on the far corner. No prizes for guessing that Kulusevski proceeded to squeeze a left-foot shot just inside the near post.

Dejan Kulusevski (centre) continues his flying start at Spurs by doubling their lead over Leeds. Photograph: Molly Darlington/Action Images/Reuters

After a few moments of introspection staring at the ground, Bielsa switched to a back three, with Stuart Dallas reassigned to right wing-back as Sessegnon’s minder. Briefly, Leeds improved and when Raphinha and Robin Koch exchanged passes, Koch’s shot rebound off the inside of a post with Hugo Lloris beaten.

Raphinha subsequently struck the woodwork with a free-kick but such cameos proved illusory. Instead, the contest effectively ended in the 27th minute when Pierre-Emile Højbjerg lifted a pass into the area and Kane lost Diego Llorente before volleying the dropping ball left-footed beyond Meslier from a particularly awkward angle. The exquisiteness of the finish personified a day when the England striker dazzled the defence.

On Friday, Bielsa had pledged that his attacking philosophy remained “the only path” but his team has conceded 20 goals in their past five games, 10 in the past. Small wonder they trudged off at half-time against a soundtrack of muttering discontent.

Admittedly, Spurs weathered a few periods of intensive home pressing and an unmarked Luke Ayling headed wide, but there is no point in commanding 60% of possession if your defending is consistently poor.

After Meslier made a series of stellar saves, Kane crowned a game punctuated by some glorious passing, often from deep, with a raking diagonal delivery towards Son Heung-Min. Having taken a steadying touch, Son duly scored Tottenham’s fourth, five minutes from time.

It proved the cue for many of those who had been, somewhat defiantly, singing “Marching on Together” to march out of Elland Road in a despairing exodus. Those who remained booed Leeds off.














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