Tottenham clear a path through the chaos to head into World Cup break on a high

Winner: Rodrigo Bentancur  (Action Images via Reuters)
Winner: Rodrigo Bentancur (Action Images via Reuters)

Tottenham ended the half-season with a dramatic win over Leeds which bore many of the hallmarks of their campaign so far: often ridiculous, occasionally sublime, trailing at half-time, victorious by the end and inspired by Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur.

The Uruguayan midfielder scored twice in as many minutes to seal a 4-3 victory as Spurs came from behind three times.

Their remarkable powers of recovery ensured they avoided going into the six-week break for the World Cup on the back of three straight defeats, which would have left supporters in a gloomy state and likely pointing fingers at Antonio Conte.

As it is, Spurs can approach the second half of the season with optimism, sitting comfortably in the top four of the Premier League and preparing for a Champions League last-16 against AC Milan.

The bigger picture is very encouraging, despite some underwhelming and occasionally alarming displays.

Rodrigo Bentancur has been Spurs’ player of the season so far. (Action Images via Reuters)
Rodrigo Bentancur has been Spurs’ player of the season so far. (Action Images via Reuters)

Clearly, Conte has major problems to address, specifically his side's tendency to start slowly and go in trailing at half-time. Goals from Crysencio Summerville and Rodrigo, either side of Kane's equaliser, ensured Spurs trailed at the interval for an eighth straight match.

Both goals were also the result of dreadfully sloppy defending, with the loss of Cristian Romero to injury and the loss of form for Eric Dier particularly concerning.

On the plus side, no team has won more points - 13 - from losing positions in the top flight, and Spurs' attacking play was transformed by the return of Richarlisona and particularly Kulusevski.

The Swede made the winning goal for Bentancur with a sublime piece of wing play and was Spurs' most dangerous player on the right of the front three.

Bentancur had already cancelled out Rodrigo's second goal to make it 3-3 after a Ben Davies collector's item made it 2-2.

Leeds had Tyler Adams sent off late on for a second booking, a professional foul on Yves Bissouma.

If Conte can keep Kulusevski and his other key players fit, the second half of the season will surely be less of a slog than the first 15 League games.

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte. (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte. (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Bentancur, meanwhile, is increasingly emerging as a huge threat in the final third and a clutch player, following up his winner against Bournemouth with two well-taken goals from inside the box.

If Spurs can have a January transfer window as successful as the last, when Bentancur and Kulusevski joined from Juventus, they will be transformed again.

The obvious positions to upgrade are in the back three and at right wing-back, and this was the day when Spurs supporters appeared to finally lose patience with Emerson Royal.

The Brazilian was effectively cheered off the pitch when he was replaced by Matt Doherty just before the hour. The moment made for uncomfortable viewing and is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by Conte.

Emerson squandered two great chances in the first time - to groans, rather than cheers - even his usually solid defensive game was off, and he was caught out of position for Summerville's well-taken goal, which kickstarted the scoring.

This was always likely to be a strange game given its proximity to the World Cup, with 11 of the starters going to Qatar. It was testament to Spurs' character that they eventually benefitted from the chaos, despite eight of their XI heading to Qatar next week.