Leeds (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Tottenham hammered Leeds 4-0 on Saturday to put a smile back on the face of Antonio Conte and plunge Marcelo Bielsa’s team deeper into Premier League relegation trouble.
The visitors, who had lost four of their previous five league matches, were 3-0 up at half-time after goals from Matt Doherty, new recruit Dejan Kulusevski and Harry Kane.
A late strike from Son Heung-min following a pinpoint pass from Kane completed the rout at Elland Road.
The win lifted Tottenham to seventh in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with a game in hand as they bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
It also brightened the mood of Spurs boss Conte, who insisted on Friday he was committed to his job after comments following their midweek loss at Burnley had cast doubt on his future at the club.
“I’m pleased for my players,” Conte told Spurs in-house media. “Today I asked for answers, not only about footballing aspects, but especially in the character, in the spirit, in the desire, the will to fight, the will to win duels.
“Today, in a difficult game — don’t forget to play against Leeds away, in this stadium, is not easy — to have these types of answers is good for me.”
Leeds enjoyed the bulk of possession in the first half and had an early chance to take the lead but Pascal Struijk’s header flew just wide.
Spurs took the lead in the 10th minute with a breakaway goal.
Harry Winks set Ryan Sessegnon free on the left and his centre was perfect for Doherty to arrive at the far post and slam home.
Five minutes later it was 2-0. Kulusevski did not appear to pose a danger when he had a ball by the corner flag but he wriggled free, exchanged passes with Doherty and beat Illan Meslier at his near post.
The home side went agonisingly close when defender Robin Koch hit the post but Spurs, looking sharp on the break, were 3-0 up within half an hour when Kane produced a clinical finish from a tight angle following a delightful ball over the top from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
– Record-breakers –
Tottenham posed a constant threat after the break and went close to extending their lead on multiple occasions, with Meslier keeping out efforts from Doherty and Sweden international Kulusevski.
Leeds should have pulled one back with about 15 minutes to go when Hugo Lloris flew out of his goal but fluffed his clearance
Stuart Dallas dribbled towards an open goal but took far too long and his eventual shot was blocked.
Son made it 4-0 in the 85th minute, finishing smartly after he was found by man-of-the-match Kane.
It meant the Tottenham players have now combined for a Premier League goal for the 37th time, overtaking Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard as the pair who have assisted one another for the most goals in the competition’s history.
Rodrigo’s free-kick rattled off the post in time added on but it would have been scant consolation for Leeds, who have now conceded 20 goals in their past five games.
Leeds, in their second season back in the Premier League, remain three points above the relegation zone but have played more games than all but one of the teams below them.
“We need to defend better,” under-pressure Leeds boss Bielsa told the BBC.
“We need to make the opponents feel more worried when they have the ball and to try and manage to be able to attack without defending poorly and defend without it preventing us from attacking.”
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