Leicester City missed out on a place in next season’s Champions League after losing a pulsating match to Tottenham Hotspur, who qualified for the inaugural Europa Conference League as a result.
The hosts took the lead after 18 minutes, when Jamie Vardy was felled in the area by Toby Alderweireld and got up to dispatch the penalty, only for their lead to be wiped out by a volley from Harry Kane.
Vardy was a menace throughout and won another penalty early in the second half after tangling with Davison Sanchez, and coolly tucked it away to restore Leicester’s lead. With only 13 minutes left Kasper Schmeichel punched a corner into his own net, before substitute Gareth Bale put Spurs ahead with three minutes to go. With the hosts deflated, he added another deep into injury time.
Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on May 23, 2021 in Leicester, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
Leicester are fifth in the final table and will now play in the Europa League next season, after Liverpool and Chelsea finished third and fourth respectively. Tottenham finished seventh, and striker Harry Kane secured the Premier League Golden Boot with his 23rd goal of the season.
Where now for Harry Kane? In a game where he looked just a touch detached from the action, Kane still marked the occasion with a stunning volley and a key assist for Bale’s game-clinching goal.
This victory secured Tottenham’s place in the inaugural Europa Conference League next season, but it is deeply in doubt as to whether that or any promises of a bright future under a new manager will be enough to persuade Tottenham’s captain to stick around.
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on May 23, 2021 in Leicester, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
He has already intimated through the media that he wants a move, and his body language today and in Spurs’ final home game on Wednesday were indicative of a player resigned to a future elsewhere. It’s said that he wants it sorted before the European Championship; the bidding war for a player of this calibre could see it rumble all summer.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
He came down on the losing side today, but Leicester’s inspirational forward carried the doomed fight for a place in the Champions League for his team. Vardy won and converted both penalties, and ran Sanchez all over the pitch for the whole afternoon.
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates with teammate James Maddison and the Leicester City fans after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Po
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris 6; Doherty 6, Sanchez 5, Alderweireld 6, Reguilon 6; Winks 5, Hojbjerg 6, Bergwijn 6, Alli 6, Son 7; Kane 7
SUBS: Bale 7, Moura 6, Rodon 6
15’ Good news for Spurs, as Everton have gone behind at the Etihad. On the pitch, Vardy hits the deck when running through into the area, collapsing under a challenge from Alderweireld. We're playing on, but his is going to be a penalty...
17’ PENALTY! That review didn't take long. Vardy latched on to a loose ball and tried to cut into the area, and a careless stray leg from Alderweireld sent him over.
18’ GOAL! Leicester City 1 (Vardy pen. 18) Tottenham Hotspur 0 Cool as you like from Vardy, as he sends Lloris definitively the wrong way to give Leicester a potentially crucial lead.
GOAL! Leicester City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Kane 41) Who else? Kane wins a corner for Spurs. From it an almighty scramble ensues as Leicester fail to clear the ball; it pops up to Kane ten yards from goal, and he volleys it ruthlessly through Schmeichel to bring Spurs level. He's also now the top scorer in the Premier League!
51’ PENALTY! Maddison finds Vardy in the area with a lovely reverse pass. As Vardy gets in behind Sanchez they tangle arms; it's a foul, Vardy goes over and after a VAR check, it stands.
52’ GOAL! Leicester City 2 (Vardy pen. 52) Tottenham Hotspur 1 He's done it again! Vardy goes low and to the right again, with Lloris rooted; Leicester lead, and they're back in the top four! That's also Vardy's 150th goal of his senior career.
77’ GOAL! Leicester City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2 (Schmeichel o.g. 77) Spurs are level! Son whips the corner right into the six yard box. Schmeichel, under pressure but not being fouled, tries to punch it away but can only divert it into his own net!
87’ GOAL! Leicester City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3 (Bale 87) Spurs lead! Or do they? Kane gets onto a back heel from Son in the area, and goes around Schmeichel; there's no angle for the shot, so he lays it off to Bale who places the ball through a crowd and into the net. It's VAR reviewed as the ball popped up and hit Kane's hand initially, but it's not deemed near enough to the goal being scored, so it stands!
90+6’ GOAL! Leicester City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 4 (Bale 90+6) It's another one for Bale! With Leicester piling forward Spurs break, with Bale using decoy runners to saunter right through the middle of the pitch and into the area. He pokes his shot onto the post initially, but gobbles up the rebound from a yard out.
Leicester City were in the top four for 242 days this season, the longest spell a team has been in the Champions League positions during a season without eventually qualifying.
Harry Kane has won the Premier League Golden Boot for the third time in his career.