Spurs’ top-four bid fades further with loss at Leeds

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London

Tottenham Hotspur are facing another season out of the Champions League after losing at Leeds United two years to the day after reaching the final of Europe’s elite competition.

Being beaten 3-1 by Leeds on Saturday left Tottenham five points from fourth place with three games to go and having played one more than Chelsea.

Dropping points at Elland Road was perhaps no surprise for a team under the interim coaching of Ryan Mason following Jose Mourinho’s firing.

Leeds have now gone unbeaten against the “Big Six” at home in their first season back in the Premier League after 16 years.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side have also drawn with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City, and sit in ninth place.

Leeds are on the rise again. It was exactly 20 years ago that Leeds lost a Champions League semi-final on May 8, the same day in 2019 that Tottenham beat Ajax to reach the final for the first time.

Mauricio Pochettino has long departed Tottenham — he went months after the loss in the final to Liverpool — and the north London club will now just have to try to clinch a Europa League spot.

Mason, who suffered his first league defeat since taking over from Mourinho last month, rued Harry Kane’s goal being ruled out after a VAR check when the score was 1-1.

“I get it if it is an inch offside,” Mason told the BBC. “It is a tight decision but in my opinion it is not offside.

You don’t understand the momentum shift that can have in football. It is a totally different mindset at 2-1.”

Leeds were rewarded for taking the game to Tottenham in the 13th minute. Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved brilliantly after Jack Harrison’s low cross had deflected off Sergio Reguilon and Stuart Dallas fired the rebound into the roof of the net.

Son Heung-min levelled in the 25th with a classy finish after Dele Alli put him through with a defence-splitting pass but Leeds were unfazed and Patrick Bamford restored their lead shortly before halftime.

Following Kane’s disallowed effort, Leeds launched a sweeping move down the left as Harrison released Ezgjan Alioski and Bamford tapped in the defender’s cutback.

Kane had another goal scrapped for offside after the break and shaved the crossbar with a free kick as the visitors threw men forward before they were punished by a swift Leeds counter.

Raphinha raced down the left flank and squared a perfect pass across the penalty area to fellow substitute Rodrigo, who gave Lloris no chance with a clinical first-time shot in the 84th minute.

On Friday, Newcastle United derailed Leicester City’s bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League with a 4-2 win that all but secured their place in the Premier League.

Defeat left Leicester third, two points in front of Chelsea and five ahead of West Ham United, with both London clubs having a game in hand over the Foxes.

Joe Willock, on loan from Arsenal, fired Newcastle in front in the 22nd minute at the King Power Stadium as he scored in his fourth successive top-flight game for the Magpies.

Martin Dubravka made some crucial saves for Steve Bruce’s side before Paul Dummett doubled their lead with a powerful header after 34 minutes.

Leicester, who will play in next weekend’s FA Cup final against Chelsea, never really got going and there seemed no way back when Callum Wilson made it 3-0 on the counter-attack in the 64th minute and stabbed home his side’s fourth 10 minutes later.

Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho however, both scored inside the final 10 minutes for Leicester before Newcastle saw out the game.

Leicester are now in danger of fresh Champions League heartache after they missed out on the top four of the final day of last season.—AFP

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