Football: Heartbroken Lane as title hopes fade

A double whammy for Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier, who not only failed to stop Craig Dawson in the lead up to the West Bromwich defender's equaliser - but also ended up injured.
A double whammy for Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier, who not only failed to stop Craig Dawson in the lead up to the West Bromwich defender's equaliser - but also ended up injured.PHOTO: REUTERS

Leicester a win away from the Premier League crown after Spurs held 1-1 by WBA

LONDON • This was the night for the long-awaited Game of Thrones and Leicester City must have loved tuning into the televised spectacle.

Claudio Ranieri and his players can now be crowned kings of England with victory over Manchester United on Sunday after Tottenham Hotspur were held 1-1 by West Bromwich Albion.

That may be a tall order but Leicester are now so close to writing the glorious ending to their fairy tale. They lead Tottenham by seven points with three games left.

They were indebted to West Bromwich, who battled hard at White Hart Lane on Monday to frustrate Leicester's only challengers for the title.

It was an evening that celebrated why the Premier League is so enjoyed all around the world. Tony Pulis' side simply did not read the script. Having conceded an own goal by Craig Dawson in a first half when Spurs were superb, the visitors fought back in the second and equalised through Dawson's powerful header.

KILLER INSTINCTS

You need to kill these games if you want to win the title... We need to use this experience in the future.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO , the Tottenham Hotspur manager, admitting that his side learnt a tough lesson in their title bid on Monday.

The damage was not only to Spurs' title hopes. Eric Dier suffered a head injury and had to be helped away, clearly groggy, while Dele Alli may be charged by the Football Association after footage seemed to show him punching Claudio Yacob.

There had seemed little complaint from West Brom at the sly punch that Alli appeared to throw at the midfielder. But if the FA notices it, Alli faces a three-game ban that will end his season.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino suggested after the match that his side had been unhinged by their lack of experience as their title hopes suffered a serious blow, with Leicester needing only three more points to secure the most remarkable of triumphs.

"You need to kill these games if you want to win the title," he said.

  • LEICESTER'S TITLE EQUATION

    Leicester City have a seven point lead over Tottenham Hotspur and need only three more points to win the title. But they could finish with as many as 85 points if they win their last three games against Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea. If Spurs slip up again, Leicester could even boast one of the biggest winning margins in Premier League history.

  • BIGGEST WINNING MARGINS

    18

    MAN UNITED, 1999-2000

    12 

    CHELSEA, 2004-05

    11 

    ARSENAL, 2003-04 MAN UNITED, 2012-13

    10

    MAN UNITED, 1992-93 MAN UNITED, 2000-01

"It's very disappointing and it's hard but in football you have to capitalise on the experience. We need to use this experience in the future. This was a game that we must have won.

"We played very well in the first half and we spent a lot of energy when it was only 1-0. In the second half we lost a little bit of the control and allowed them to believe and create chances. When you do not kill the game, you always allow them to believe."

However, striker Harry Kane insisted that Spurs, who travel to Chelsea a day after Leicester's Old Trafford fixture, will not throw in the towel.

"I don't think it's over," he said.

"There are still three games left. If Leicester lose the next game, you just never know, with the pressure. Obviously, it is now going to be a lot, lot harder, and it's not in our hands. It's in Leicester's hands. If they win, they win. We've just got to go out and win our remaining three games.

"Hopefully Man United can do us a favour."

But for now, Leicester are so close to the finishing line. Tottenham have played magnificently during the season but just pulled up short.

To rub salt into their wounds, Spurs were made to listen to chants of "You nearly won the league" at White Hart Lane from the West Brom fans, and they were in no position to disagree.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Heartbroken Lane as title hopes fade'. Print Edition | Subscribe