New Tottenham manager Antonio Conte got his home league campaign underway with a win over Leeds United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday after a dramatic second half turnaround from the home side.
Conte's side again failed to register a shot on target in the first half of the game as Leeds went into half time one up thanks to Daniel James' strike, but second half goals from Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Sergio Reguilon, aided by a much-improved performance, helped Tottenham get the win and take them up to seventh in the table.
Story of the match
The first opportunity of the game fell to Leeds when Joe Gelhardt was brought down by Emerson Royal inside the first minute after Harry Winks was dispossessed. Hugo Lloris, however, was on hand to stop Kalvin Phillips from opening the scoring.
Stuart Dallas then came within inches of putting his side ahead when he fired just wide on the volley. Lloris was beaten, and Leeds' intent from early on was clear to see.
Spurs' first attack of any substance arrived after 17 minutes as Harry Kane, fresh from scoring seven goals for England over the international break, was allowed to control the ball for the first time. Leeds eventually cleared a home corner, but it was evident the pattern of the game was turning and Tottenham were starting to feel more comfortable.
Heung-Min Son broke away down the right as Spurs grew more and more into things, and managed to get a cross in from the right. It was slightly behind Kane, however, and Phillips cleared for Leeds.
Liam Cooper took a Reguilon cross off the tip of Kane's head with the forward destined to score as the game passed the half hour mark, and Adam Forshaw fired just wide at the other end as the game searched for its first goal - referee Andre Marriner hitting the deck threatened to be the moot interesting event from the first half.
But that goal came just before half time and it went to Leeds, thanks to Daniel James. Jack Harrison beat Emerson Royal once again down the Leeds left, and put an excellent cross low into Tottenham's box. James got between two defenders and poked home for his first Leeds goal, much to the joy of the visiting fans.
44' GGGGGGOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!! DAAAAAAANNNN JAMESSSSSS!!! 0-1 pic.twitter.com/m6IN5fSE2s— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 21, 2021
Tottenham got off to an electric start in the second half, with Kane forcing Ilan Meslier into a decent save onto the post pretty must instantly - Tottenham's first shot on target in the league for over 270 minutes.
Lloris then saved well from James, before an effort from Son was deflected off Diego Llorente onto the bar with Meslier beat.
Son went down in the box after a challenge from Phillips, but replays showed no contact. Minutes later, however, Tottenham were level, and it was Pierre-Emile Hojberg with the goal.
A chipped cross found its way to Lucas in the box. The Brazillian controlled the ball, took his time and found Hojberg on the edge of the area. Hojberg, shooting first time, found the far right corner of the goal with Meslier scrambling to square things up.
And in the 70th minute, the turnaround was complete and Tottenham were ahead. After Liam Cooper hacked down Lucas, Eric Dier stepped up and sent a free kick onto the post via a deflection. Of those to react, Sergio Reguilon was quickest, and slotted home to lift the roof off the stadium and put Tottenham ahead for the first time in the match.
𝗩𝗔𝗠𝗢𝗦𝗦𝗦𝗦𝗦! 😍 pic.twitter.com/XokbLOmwvb— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 21, 2021
Son curled wide as the game approached the final 10 minutes, and the hosts looked comfortable towards the end of the game despite Leeds' best efforts.
The win means Conte has registered two wins and a draw from his first three games as Tottenham boss, with the Spurs fans hopeful of a bright future under the Italian's stewardship.
Takeaways from the match
Spurs get the boost
Tottenham showed in the second half that they can create chances and play on the front foot, something they struggled with in the first period.
It will take time for Conte to coach the defensive style of previous managers out of the team, but the signs were positive in the second period here, despite the lacklustre first half.
It's been a slow start to the season for Harrison, who has struggled with COVID and poor form, but he shone here in the absence of key man Raphinha.
The former Manchester City man had wing back Emerson Royal on metaphorical toast throughout the match, and provided a fantastic assist for James' goal. He will be hoping this performance can help trigger a return to last season's form.
In a Spurs side still lacking creativity, Lucas Moura provided the most for the home side.
His direct driving runs consistently got fans off their seats and created frequent openings for Tottenham. He dragged his side into attacking positions and remained a nuisance for the Leeds defence, and won the free kick that led to the winner.
Tottenham: Lloris, Tanganga (Sanchez 68), Dier, Davies, Royal, Winks, Hojberg, Reguilon (Sessegnon 79), Lucas (Dele 88), Son, Kane.
Subs not used: Gollini, Doherty, Rodon, Bryan, Bergwijn, Ndombele.
Leeds: Meslier, Dallas, Llorente, Cooper, Struijk, Phillips, Forshaw (Roberts 72), James, Klich (Firpo 59), Harrison, Gelhardt (McKinstry 87).
Subs not used: Klaesson, Drameh, Cresswell, McCarron, Jenkins, Greenwood.