Football: Spurs made to pay

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The Independent Online
Leicester City. . . 3

Joachim 45, 90, Lowe 86

Tottenham Hotspur. .1

Klinsmann 88

Attendance: 21,300

THE ONE thing Tottenham cannot afford to do (perhaps the only thing they cannot afford at the moment) is to give points to modest opponents. Having discarded three against Southampton earlier in the week, yesterday at Filbert Street their trembling defence and the quick limbs of Leicester's recently spurned striker, Julian Joachim, cost them their second defeat in seven days.

Leicester's manager, Brian Little, sent out the youngest team he could remember but his greater gamble was to recall 19-year-old Joachim, 'not really a team player'. Little said resting Joachim for two matches had led to this erratic scorer training harder than at any time in the past year. It paid off. Conversely, Spurs are wondering how much they have to pay for similar dedication.

Thanks largely to Spurs spending pounds 7.5m, the Premiership transfer market at present has a bigger turnover than the Italian league. But have Spurs at last bought someone who can stop them being turned over defensively? Gheorghe Popescu, the Romanian midfielder with defensive skills, has the right credentials. All he needs is a work permit. That should arrive by midweek - not a day too soon. As Ossie Ardiles said: 'He held the Romanian team together in the World Cup - I only hope he can do the same for us.'

As Southampton showed when they nicked a last-minute winning goal on Monday, Spurs may have invested in the coruscating skills of Ilie Dumitrescu and attacking diversity of Jurgen Klinsmann, but the endemic defensive weakness still needs plugging.

The evidence emerged quickly yesterday and never went away. With Joachim always busy and the borrowed Franz Carr offering his usual glimpses of a jewel of talent that somehow always falls on stony ground, Leicester forced Ian Walker to mop up importantly behind the stuttering Spurs defence.

Justifiably, Leicester eventually made Spurs pay for their mistakes. Exactly on half-time, Neil Lewis played what seemed at first sight to be a speculative long ball down the left side. Colin Calderwood seemed to have it in his sights but here was another example of insecurity. Joachim accelerated, beat him to the ball, sped deep into the penalty area and stunningly beat Walker with his shot.

The powerful midfield persistence of Mark Draper kept Leicester pressing forward and Spurs defending too deep. That, combined with Nicky Mohan and Jimmy Willis's closeting of Klinsmann and Dumitrescu's virtual silence, ensured that confidence, which had been eroded by early season failures, now coursed through Leicester's game.

Inevitably, over the last 20 minutes Leicester reinforced their defence to counter Tottenham's mounting pressure, but it was never a matter of desperation. Mohan remained a rock, tackling and disheartening Klinsmann outstandingly. Meanwhile, Joachim continued to look the most exciting forward on view. With nine minutes left he forced Walker to tip away yet another fierce drive but security was finally won three minutes from time. Tottenham were committed to attack when Leicester broke away, resulting in their substitute, David Lowe, finding space on the left 20 yards out and curling in a fine shot. Although Klinsmann did at last find a few square feet of room to hit in a close-range consolation goal two minutes from time, even then Leicester regained the initiative when, in the 90th minute, Joachim slid in their third from four yards.

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