Harry Kane helps Tottenham force FA Cup replay against Leicester
LONDON -- Three points from Tottenham and Leicester's 2-2 draw in the FA Cup third round.
1. Kane saves Spurs
In an already overcrowded season, an FA Cup third round replay might not have been what Tottenham wanted but, in the end, they were desperate for an equaliser. It arrived when substitute Harry Kane converted from the penalty spot in the 89th minute.
Claudio Ranieri's team, meanwhile, also hardly need the extra fixture and will rue their rotten luck. Tottenham needed a lucky bounce to save them when Leicester winger Nathan Dyer could not prevent his hand touching the ball in his own penalty area.
Ranieri's starting XI featured just three players, Kasper Schmeichel, N'Golo Kante and Leonardo Ulloa, who would be first-choice selections, and Kante did not last beyond half-time when Shinji Okazaki replaced him and Leicester switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
Spurs, by dint of having greater resources than a team two places and four points ahead of them in the Premier League, featured the likes of captain for the day Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen.
The hosts took an eighth-minute lead through Eriksen when Kasper Schmeichel, who just seconds before was being compared unfavourably to his legendary father Peter by Spurs fans behind him, could only palm a Nacer Chadli shot into the path of his Danish international teammate.
The battle of fellow countrymen Schmeichel and Eriksen was a regular duel in this encounter with the goalkeeper forced to make a number of saves from Spurs' playmaker, who was always looking to drift inside from his nominal right-flank position.
Having fallen behind, though, Leicester showed the energy and determination of their Premier League campaign in soaking up pressure and taking their chances. 11 minutes after Eriksen's goal, the equalizer came from equaliser from Marcin Wasilewski, who headed in a corner from lively debutant Demerai Gray.
Okazaki's goal for Leicester's second came when his team had begun the second half with a real head of steam. The Japanese striker, only on the field two minutes, slalomed past despairing Tottenham tackles and stayed calm to score when Tottenham 'keeper Michel Vorm could only deflect the initial shot back into his path.
As Leicester held Spurs' scrappy attempts to equalise at bay, Mauricio Pochettino was forced to throw on star men Kane and Dele Alli. It looked like Leicester would continue their Premier League capacity to surprise and that Spurs had run out of attacking ideas. Then came Dyer's unfortunate moment.
2. Tottenham need another striker
Both team selections reflected the managers' need to rest players ahead of the sides' midweek Premier League clash.
The two most in-form English strikers around, Kane and Jamie Vardy, were both absent at kickoff, with Vardy recuperating from a groin operation and Spurs' talisman spending rare minutes on the bench.
On the sidelines, Pochettino did not look much impressed by the lack of intensity from his collection of second-stringers, even though they held the greater majority of possession and had Leicester making a series of last-ditch interventions to clear their lines.
THE BEST OF ESPN FC
- Bell: Liverpool fans make themselves heard
- Cox: Leicester improving | Why Poch should stay
- Okwonga: Man United's market | City's title hopes
- Laurens: PSG's pre-UCL issues | Hertha's curse
- Highlights (U.S. only): Stuttgart 1-3 BVB
- FC TV: Champions League W2W4 | LVG wrong
- News | Transfer | Toe Poke | Fantasy | FC TV | Podcast | MLS
Spurs had Leicester pinned back for almost the entire first half, aside from some fleeting attacks, but lacked a cutting edge. Josh Onomah, a midfielder by trade, was sometimes the furthest forward in a frequently rotating attacking unit, as an ineffective Son flitted on the fringes.
The truth is that none of Spurs' other forwards can equal the qualities that Kane brings to the team: power, energy and more than a little mayhem. Though the January transfer window can be choppy to negotiate, this was an occasion to suggest that a striker to ease Kane's burden must be high priority this month if Pochettino is to achieve his targets.
Those recent links with West Brom's Saido Berahino and a loan for Chelsea's Loic Remy, or any other decent striker for that matter, need to come to fruition.
3. Young Leicester stars shine
Gray only signed on Monday from Birmingham City but began on the left wing as the latest addition to Ranieri's collection of speedsters on the flank. An early attempt to cut in and shoot went wide of Michel Vorm's post but reflected the teenager's direct style of play,
Gray also showed off his aptitude with the dead ball by hitting the corner from which Wasilewski equalised in an eye-catching first half from a 19-year-old, who has been signed very much for the future, but looks capable of making a contribution this season.
Behind him on Leicester's left was full-back Ben Chilwell, who is highly thought of at his club and an England youth international. He dealt more than capably with the challenge of marking the elusive Eriksen and Kieran Trippier, overlapping at right-back for Spurs, and was calm when Onomah and Son ran into his sector.
While Gray, something of a maverick, might need to work on his tracking back, the pair struck up an instant understanding with Chilwell's passing giving plenty of space to run into. Gray left the field in the 65th minute to applause from the away fans, having just forced Vorm into a full-length save.
The oft-uttered prediction about Leicester is that their efforts will eventually fade due to a lack of numbers in the squad, but here were two contributions to suggest that Ranieri might have further cards up his sleeve.
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.