Football

Pochettino: We lacked fight

Spurs manager rues loss to Leicester, which extends their winless run in EPL to three games

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino slammed his players' lack of "fight" after their Premier League title aspirations suffered another damaging blow with a 2-1 loss at Leicester City.

Yesterday morning's (Singapore time) defeat means Spurs have now gone three league games without a win.

They will fall 16 points behind Manchester City if the runaway leaders beat Southampton this morning.

Wonder strikes from Jamie Vardy - his 100th league goal - and Riyad Mahrez gave the Foxes a deserved 2-0 lead before Harry Kane pulled a goal back for Spurs late on.

Tottenham's Danny Rose was then denied a late penalty after Fernando Llorente' glaring miss, but Pochettino was in no mood for excuses following a loss that all but ended the London club's hopes of becoming English champions for the first time since 1961.

"In the Premier League, if you do not fight, you are going to struggle, and our performance was a clear example of that in the first half when we were 2-0 down," said Pochettino.

"I think in football, first of all you must compete, fight and be focused, and then of course the quality will come through."

The Argentinian added: "But Leicester showed more than us and were ready to fight. It was difficult to analyse the game because we started so sloppily.

"Our performance in the first half disappointed us a lot...

"It's difficult to say why because you can't talk about tactics or selection - it was a collective. The performance was so poor."

Dele Alli agreed with his manager's assessment, telling the BBC: "It was a very disappointing performance from us in the first half. We should never have been in the situation where we were two goals behind. It was not good enough."

With the defeat at the King Power Stadium, Spurs have now lost as many league games this season as they have during the entire 2016/17 campaign.

Former Liverpool and England midfielder Danny Murphy believes Spurs' stuttering season is down to three reasons - the move from White Hart Lane to Wembley, their inability to field their regular midfield axis of Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama together this season and an overreliance on Kane.

He told the BBC: "Sometimes in a team, when you've got somebody so good, you start to leave them to it a little bit... and players' performances drop.

"Because Kane is so phenomenal, (the players think) Harry will get us out of it."

But it was Kane's England teammate Vardy who stole the show yesterday morning.

Since the beginning of last season, the 30-year-old has scored 11 league goals against the Premier League's "Big Six", five more than any other player.

Leicester captain Wes Morgan told the club website: "Vardy was very good tonight. He ran all day long and he got that special goal.

"I don't know how he did it. I'll have to look back at it, but it was a great goal. That got us off on the front foot."

BONUS

Vardy told the BBC: "It is about time me and Mahrez both got on the scoresheet in the same game, and to get the win is a bonus."

Mahrez has scored three times and handed out two assists in his last seven Premier League matches.

His boss Claude Puel, who took over late last month, believes that the performance against Spurs is a promising sign for the future.

He said: "It was a fantastic game for us. The goals from Jamie and Riyad were fantastic and this is amazing for the future...

"It's just one game but it's promising." - WIRE SERVICES

Football