Late Harry Kane penalty secures Tottenham FA Cup replay at Leicester
A late, somewhat lucky penalty, calmly converted by Harry Kane, was enough to earn Tottenham a replay in this third-round FA Cup tie. While Spurs were pleased to rescue a game that looked lost, the result was arguably one that neither side would have much wanted. Spurs and Leicester meet in the Premier League on Wednesday and a further meeting in an already-cluttered fixture list is far from ideal.
Sunday's draw is a result that neither manager can blame on anyone but themselves. Leicester rested seven first-team players in anticipation of next week's league contest, and Spurs eight. Had either side had the respect for both the FA Cup and the fans, they could have had this tie done and dusted at the first attempt.
Playing a weakened team is always asking for trouble. The first-team players who are selected tend to feel they aren't as important as those who are rested, while the squad players who are brought in also understand they are no more than fill-ins. The net result is frequently a discontented, disjointed team who fail to match the sum of its parts.
Initially, it looked as if it would be Leicester who were going to pay the heaviest price as Spurs had 75 percent of possession in the first half. When Christian Eriksen neatly slotted home after Kasper Schmeichel could only parry a long-range effort from Nacer Chadli into the Dane's path, a Tottenham win at the canter seemed the most likely option. Instead, the visitors levelled when Spurs failed to mark properly at a corner following the Foxes' first real attack of the match.
The away side went into the lead early in the second half when Shinji Okazaki out-muscled Toby Alderweireld and squeezed the ball past Michel Vorm from the rebound. Both the goalkeeper and the defender should have done better. Thereafter Spurs had the lion's share of possession but rarely were able to create any clear-cut opportunities.
Then came the get-out-of-jail card of the penalty decision to send the home fans home a little happier. Now the two teams have to play another 90 minutes with the possibility of extra time a week from Tuesday, and the managers have to make up their minds on just how much they want to win the FA Cup or qualify for the Champions League. A brave one would gamble on both.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Michel Vorm, 5 -- Having played so few minutes of first-team football, Vorm's confidence was always likely to be an issue. He failed to inspire composure in his back four and was badly at fault for Leicester's second goal.
DF Kieran Trippier, 5 -- His lack of pace and positional awareness in defence is cause for real concern. On a good day, his defensive liabilities are offset by his delivery into the box. Sunday was not a good day.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 5 -- Lost his man to allow Marcin Wasilewski a free header for Leicester's first goal and was surprisingly outwitted by Okazaki for their second. Both errors were most likely caused by playing with an unfamiliar partner in the centre of defence.
DF Kevin Wimmer, 5 -- Given a rare start, the Austrian rarely looked settled or convincing on the ball. There was little sign of any understanding between him and Alderweireld, and his distribution was poor.
DF Danny Rose, 6 -- You can never accuse the left-back of not trying, and it was his persistence that earned Spurs the slightly fortuitous late penalty to level the match. He still makes too many defensive errors so always gives opponents the sense of possibility.
MF Eric Dier, 6 -- Not one of his more-assured games and seemed, like many others in the side, to be playing at 75 percent capacity at best. There was little commitment in the tackle and his passing lacked creativity.
MF Nacer Chadli, 6 -- Earned an assist by having a long-range effort parried into the path of Eriksen in the eighth minute, but thereafter faded into anonymity. Just over a year ago, the Belgian seemed on the verge of becoming an integral member of the team; now he looks increasingly peripheral.
MF Tom Carroll, 7 -- Although he tired in the second half, Carroll looked the one player in midfield to have the vision to find holes in the Leicester defence. Some of his passing was reminiscent of Luka Modric; unfortunately, his physique isn't and he too often got pushed off the ball.
MF Christian Eriksen, 6 -- An early goal should have been just what the Dane needed to restore some confidence and positivity to his game. Instead, he tended to drift somewhat aimlessly and rarely gave Spurs a cutting edge. A shadow of the player he was last season.
MF Josh Onomah, 6 -- A decent enough first outing with a couple of promising touches. It was always asking a lot, though, to expect the youngster to make an instant impact and at times his inexperience showed.
FW Heung-Min Son, 6 -- A first-half nutmeg almost led to him doubling the lead for Spurs, but despite his industry what the Korean's appearance leading the attack really showed was how reliant the club is on Harry Kane.
FW Harry Kane, 7 -- The striker was brought on to score, and score he did. It takes nerve to put away a last-minute penalty and Kane was more than up to the job. All the more impressive because up until then he had looked out of sorts.
MF Nabil Bentaleb, 6 -- Brought on to try to impose some physicality and urgency in the midfield, but made little difference. If anything, Spurs played worse with him on the field. Substitutions can change the game for the better as well as the worse; this one worked out for the worse.
MF Dele Alli, NR -- Late substitution to rescue a game that was slipping away. Was unable to make too much impact, although his mere presence on the pitch was enough to cause Leicester some anxiety.
John Crace is a columnist and feature writer for The Guardian. He is also a THFC season-ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @JohnJCrace.