Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to rest Harry Kane in the first FA Cup third round tie against Leicester City at White Hart Lane almost backfired, after the popular forward had to come off the bench to rescue Spurs from an early elimination in the 2-2 draw. Despite the euphoria surrounding that decision, the Argentine decided to start Kane again from the bench with Heung-Min Son, and surprisingly, Nacer Chadli preferred in attack. With seven of the starting eleven who also featured in the aforementioned dramatic draw, Pochettino once again displayed the trust that he has in his squad.
Coming into this game, the travelling Spurs faithful knew that the task ahead of their side at the King Power Stadium would be tough, especially as Leicester won a smash-and-grab fixture in the league a week to this day at the Lane. With both sides attempting to find their rhythm, it was the visitors who had the first real chance of the opening quarter of an hour. Ben Davies picked out the intelligent movement of Son, before the latter played the ball into the path of the on-rushing Christian Eriksen, who could only place his effort well wide from inside the area. A training ground corner then saw Eriksen combine with Kyle Walker, who laid the ball into Davies, though his strike went aimlessly high over the crossbar.
With Spurs looking on top, Tom Carroll then clipped Ben Chilwell just outside the box. It would have been injustice for the home side to score from the resulting set-piece and fortunately for Spurs, Gokhan Inler’s resulting free-kick beat the wall but not Michel Vorm, who held the ball with safe hands. Moments later at the other end, Carroll found Davies out on the left flank who delivered in a fine ball onto the head of Erik Lamela after the Argentine did brilliantly to arrive in the box, though he could only direct his header over the bar. Carroll then dragged his near 30 yard shot wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s left hand post, before Pochettino’s side took a deserved lead.
With 39 minutes played, Lamela and Carroll combined well prior to the latter finding Son away in on goal, who did well to create space for himself before powering a finish past Schmeichel at his near post. Just before half time, and with Spurs looking to double their lead, Walker’s deep cross to the far post just evaded Chadli who couldn’t reach his full-back’s delivery.
The first dangerous chance of the second half came to the home side. Andy King laid the ball into the path of Demarai Gray, who saw his curling effort well palmed away by Vorm. However with the loose ball falling kindly to Nathan Dyer, the midfielder just couldn’t connect properly as the danger trickled out. Spurs then had a great chance to relieve pressure, though with Lamela breaking away with Eriksen and Son either side, the former made the wrong choice to the relief of the home crowd.
Chilwell’s shot-cum-cross had to be saved by Vorm, before around the hour mark, Pochettino made the decision to bring on Kane in place of Lamela. The forward had an instant impact, after Chadli, Eriksen, and Son combined well with intricate play, the latter played a pass into Kane who forced Schmeichel into making a vital low save. The Danish keeper was intent on not being beaten at his near post for a second time in the match.
Tottenham, with the momentum, then powered their way into a 2-0 lead after 66 minutes with a lovely move that was in fact started by Pochettino. Kane combined with Son, before the South Korean played a cutting pass into Chadli who finished superbly into the far corner past the bewildered Leicester keeper. With a display of solidarity and fluency, Kane broke away near the half way line though could only see his shot saved by Schmeichel. Despite Claudio Ranieri subsequently throwing on Jamie Vardy after 73 minutes in the hopes of rescuing the game, the forward was stifled for the remaining 20 minutes.
Spurs continued to go forward though the same vibrancy that saw them go into a 0-2 lead was beginning to fade. Then, with the last significant action of the spectacle, Chilwell’s deep cross was met by Marc Albrighton who could only shoot straight at Vorm, who had to remain focused to make a strong save.
The final whistle ensured jubilation for all involved with Tottenham Hotspur, who can now look forward to a trip to Colchester United in the FA Cup fourth round.