Antonio Conte fires top-four warning to rivals after Tottenham come from behind against Leeds

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At full-time Conte was equally animated as he vociferously celebrated the victory - REUTERS
At full-time Conte was equally animated as he vociferously celebrated the victory - REUTERS
  • Leeds the better side before the break, taking a well deserved lead into half-time

  • Spurs transformed in second half, dominating the match and completing comeback

  • First Premier League win of the Antonio Conte era

In the 88th minute with the game lulled, the crowd quietened and Tottenham apparently heading towards a win Antonio Conte turned to the home fans and furiously demanded some noise. A lot of noise. He got the response he wanted.

At full-time Conte was equally animated as he vociferously celebrated the victory with his backroom staff before marching onto the pitch and violently hugging and slapping the Spurs players. If there was any doubt as to how much this meant to the Italian and the intensity he demands then here it was laid bare and raw. Spurs new head coach may have banned the ketchup from the canteen but he has brought plenty of spice to the job as he works the crowd – as well as his team – hard.

“It’s right to celebrate with passion,” he said after his first home Premier League game. “I have a great passion and I want to transfer my passion. You can have good organisation and tactics but passion and heart, you either have or don’t have.” Conte has all of that.

It also means that hunting down a top four place, and Champions League qualification, starts now for Spurs who are suddenly up to seventh and just four points behind West Ham United who currently occupy that berth. It feels do-able.

“There are four teams and after that there is a gap,” Conte said. “But if there is one team that goes to sleep or makes mistakes then we must be there. Tottenham must fight.” And so that felt like a warning to their rivals.

After boos for the team at half-time, Sergio Reguilon's goal secured the win - REUTERS
After boos for the team at half-time, Sergio Reguilon's goal secured the win - REUTERS

Certainly he will be demanding. Sleep, it seems, will be something that can happen at the end of the season as he works his squad hard and takes pride in the fact that they actually out-ran Leeds – no mean feat – having studied the statistics and demanding more.

For Leeds this was a tough defeat. To his credit Marcelo Bielsa is not in the business of making excuses but injuries are hitting hard and to lose Raphinha and Rodrigo meant they were further depleted with 15-year-old midfielder Archie Gray travelling with the match-day squad even if he did not actually make the bench.

“Perhaps if we had drawn the game it would have been a prize for what we constructed in the first-half,” Bielsa said, not unreasonably. “But as the second-half went on they increased the differences compared to us.” It helped that Conte had far greater reserves to call on while Bielsa desperately tried to juggle his midfield combinations to stem the tide despite taking the contest to Spurs.

And to think Spurs were booed off at half-time – and Conte said justifiably so - after a frankly abject performance when they were fortunate just to be a goal behind against a Leeds side who should count themselves unlucky to lose and now sit just two points outside the relegation zone.

By that interval a woeful Spurs had recorded a woeful statistic: they became the first team since Opta started compiling such data in 2003 to go six halves of Premier League football without managing a single shot on target. Extraordinary.

Worse than that, they were losing. It was the least Leeds warranted. They had been dominant, committed, organised and got their reward when Jack Harrison beat Emerson Royal with a nutmeg and arced in a cross from the left that was met by Daniel James who side-footed his first goal since his move from Manchester United.

Daniel James of Leeds United celebrates with team mates after scoring their side's first goal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on November 21, 2021 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Daniel James of Leeds United celebrates with team mates after scoring their side's first goal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on November 21, 2021 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES

Bielsa cleverly used Kalvin Phillips as a sweeper at the heart of a three-man defence and, for a while, it worked superbly as he used the role to launch attacks and also to take care of Harry Kane who he tracked when he dropped deep. But how that changed after Conte had clearly got into his players.

Spurs returned scolded. They charged at Leeds and created chance after chance and that elusive shot on target came just seconds after the re-start – and 272 minutes since the last one - when Kane evaded Phillips for once, only for his low effort to be deflected by goalkeeper Illan Meslier against the foot of the post.

It was as if a switch had been flicked. Spurs went close again with Son Heung-min collecting the ball and volleying across goal with it ricocheting off Diego Llorente before hitting the cross-bar. They drew level when Lucas Moura reacted quickly to collect Reguilon’s cross ahead of Meslier with the goalkeeper out of position as the ball was pulled back to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. He did not strike his first-time shot cleanly but it was enough.

It felt inevitable that Spurs would score again and so it came when Liam Cooper tripped Moura on the edge of the penalty area. Eric Dier’s free-kick struck Pascal Struijk to wrong-foot Meslier with the ball hitting the post. Reguilon followed up to fire home the rebound and claim his first goal for Spurs and complete the turnaround.

“I said to my players this is a point to start the rest of the season,” Conte declared. If we want to build on this the feeling of the crowd depends on us.” He will make sure it does.

Tottenham vs Leeds, as it happened:

06:44 PM

That's all from me...

But read Jason Burt's match report for a full recap of Antonio Conte's first Premier League win as Spurs manager.

06:36 PM

Leeds have been in plenty of games this year...

Leeds have dropped 10 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season; in the entirety of last season they dropped only six points from winning positions.

06:29 PM

Here is the updated Premier League table following this result

06:28 PM

Here is the proof Conte enjoyed that win

06:26 PM

Leeds' squad depth exposed

Leeds were missing Raphinha, Rodrigo, Bamford, Koch and Ayling today. Their full strength team is good, but their lack of depth is being exposed.

06:24 PM

Antonio Conte really, really enjoyed that

Conte and is staff are absolutely jubilant with that win. His side showed plenty of resilience, surviving tough spells against a decent Leeds side.

06:22 PM

FULL-TIME: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Sessegnon finds Kane who has a long range shot blocked. Leeds counter but lose the ball. Kane strides forward but does not roll in Winks for some reason!

Leeds have the ball but no ideas. They lose it, Spurs counter and Alli is clearly offside. They play on and score - it will not count.

Leeds launch it forward but it rolls out for a goal kick. That should be that... it is! Spurs win.

06:19 PM

90+2 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Leeds counter up the pitch and Emerson hacks down James. Yellow card shown. Leeds lump the ball forward but cannot retain possession.

Reguilon is named player of the match.

06:17 PM

90 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Conte is urging the crowd to get behind his side as the final whistle edges closer. It works, kind of.

Leeds desperately try to form an attack but they are struggling to keep the ball. There will be four minutes of added time.

06:15 PM

88 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Spurs win a throw-in deep in Leeds' half. McKinstry is on for the impressive youngster Gelhardt.

Lucas is replaced by Dele Alli.

06:12 PM

85 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

James works some space on the edge of the box, hitting a shot straight at Lloris. Spurs counter, but no one latches onto an inviting cross from Sessegnon.

06:10 PM

83 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Leeds controversially win the ball in midfield. They counter but Wales team-mates Roberts and James cannot connect in the final third. Conte is now getting a warning from the fourth official, presumably something along the lines of: 'calm down, Antonio'.

06:08 PM

81 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Leeds lose the ball, Son drives towards goal but curls a crisp shot wide of the far post.

Bielsa is very animated as he tries to help his side avoid losing from a winning position once more.

06:06 PM

79 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Reguilon runs in behind but the long ball does not reach him. Spurs come again, Lucas sticking a hopeful shot into the packed stands.

Spurs change; Sessegnon on for Reguilon.

06:03 PM

76 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Leeds take it short, picking out James on the edge of the box. He hits a curling effort nicely, right into the hands of Lloris, however.

Harrison drives down the left but is well defended. Roberts makes a good run, shanking a shot gently to Lloris.

06:01 PM

73 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Leeds bring on Tyler Roberts - who is not much of a goal-scorer, but maybe he will be today...

Sanchez concedes a corner.

05:59 PM

71 mins: Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Leeds react well, attacking down the right, winning a corner via James. The ball is not cleared and lands in the six-yard box. A Leeds leg swipes at it and the ball is blocked by Kane's arm. Gelhardt hit it. Leeds want a penalty, no decision comes. Var will not change the decision.

Kane's arm was in a natural position, play on.

05:57 PM

GOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! Reguilon Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

The free kick is deflected by the wall into the post, the ball bounces into the six-yard box and Reguilon reacts quickest, putting the ball into an empty net. That was very unlucky for Leeds.

05:55 PM

68 mins: Tottenham 1 Leeds 1

Son is about to break into the Leeds box and Cooper trips him. Another Leeds yellow. This is an inviting free kick position.

Kane walks away from it, leaving Dier and Emerson over the ball. Sanchez is on for Tanganga.

05:53 PM

66 mins: Tottenham 1 Leeds 1

Kane looks to break away and Forshaw brings him down. Yellow card awarded.

Spurs attack down the right, Emerson's cross cleared away.

05:52 PM

64 mins: Tottenham 1 Leeds 1

James, buoyed by his goal, is causing problems, dinking a dangerous cross to the back post which is just headed clear.

Dier picks out Davies who breaks into the box. He brings it down, shooting as he falls. The shot is saved, but was Davies tripped? The home crowd think so, Andre Mariner does not.

05:48 PM

61 mins: Tottenham 1 Leeds 1

Firpo is on for Leeds, replacing Klich. Spurs drive down the right. Lucas sends in a low cross and Leeds just about clear.

Tottenham back on top. The ball is rolled into the feet of Kane who spins Cooper with sublime skill before Struijk blocks his shot.

05:46 PM

GOOOOOOAAAAAAL! Hojbjerg Tottenham 1 Leeds 1

Meslier is dragged away from his goal by Lucas who then passes to Hojberg. His unconvincing, bouncing shot beats Meslier back to the net. 1-1.

05:45 PM

57 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

Leeds are on top, now. James has a shot blocked in the box before Gelhardt dribbles nicely, hitting a low shot straight at Lloris. It feels like a goal is coming - but it could be at either end!

05:43 PM

56 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

Kane rolls the ball into to Son who goes down in the penalty box! It looks like it could be a penalty but nothing comes... a replay shows that Phillips did not make contact and Son mysteriously fell down.

Leeds counter but James' cross comes to nothing. Leeds attack again. Gelhardt drives into the box and has a powerful shot pushed away by Lloris.

05:41 PM

54 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

Spurs are playing with real urgency at the moment and Leeds are clinging on a touch.

Forshaw wins the ball back for Leeds, then giving it away on half-way.

05:39 PM

51 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

Dallas curls it to the back post and it is headed away. Lucas drives at the Leeds defence, finding Reguilon who wins a corner for his side.

Leeds get the corner away. Spurs come once more. The ball falls to Son who has his volley deflcected past Meslier and onto the bar! That was very close!

05:36 PM

49 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

The corner is eventually scrambled away. The ball comes to Harrison who wins another for his side. This one is taken short but Harrison loses it to Winks.

Leeds come again, winning yet another corner. Guess what? They win a fourth of this very short half so far.

05:34 PM

47 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

Kane should score 30 seconds into the half! He is through one-on-one and tries to slip it through Meslier's legs. The Frenchman just keeps it out. He then claims the resulting corner. Let of for Leeds.

Bielsa's side counter. James breaks into the Spurs box, hitting an effort with the outside of his boot which is put behind for a corner by Lloris.

05:32 PM

The second half is under way

Leeds get us restarted.

05:19 PM

A controversial list of names...

05:18 PM

Leeds have been the better side...

And then Harrison produced the best moment of quality in the half to put James' first Leeds goal on a plate. The Spurs faithful are not happy with that showing.

05:17 PM

HALF-TIME: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

Leeds pass the ball around in a relaxed manner, looking to take their lead into the break.

They do just that.

05:15 PM

45 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

There will be two minutes of added time.

05:15 PM

GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL! (James) Tottenham 0 Leeds 1

Harrison nutmegs Emerson, then driving a low cross into the box which James taps home from close range! Superb from Harrison.

05:13 PM

43 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Leeds are pressing Spurs high up the pitch and Tottenham are not enjoying it at all.

05:12 PM

41 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

The ball is rolled to Forshaw on the edge of the box. He tackes a touch before smoking the ball just wide of the top corner. Great effort from the midfielder. Struijk is been seen to by the physios after a strong challenge from Emerson, who caught him on the follow through of a clearance. He will continue.

05:10 PM

39 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Spurs burst forward with plenty of numbers but Emerson's vital pass is intercepted.

05:06 PM

36 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

I repeat my earlier sentiment, there has not been much quality in this match. Some good fouls though.

05:03 PM

33 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Leeds give the ball away in their half once again. Reguilon lofts a cross to the back post and a crucial intervention from Cooper stops the ball reaching Kane, who was primed to open the scoring.

Phillips puts Andre Mariner on his backside as the ref gets in the way. All the crowd enjoyed that..

05:01 PM

31 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Not a huge amount of quality on show so far today. Kane spins his marker on half-way and is clipped by Klich. Free kick. Gelhardt then fouls Dier and is booked - that yellow card had been coming for a Leeds player.

Kane is caught offside before shanking a shot wll wide.

04:59 PM

29 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Meslier twice punches the corner away, the second time more convincingly. Leeds counter and Winks executes a textbook professional foul on Harrison.

Leeds return the favour, hacking down Son soon after.

04:57 PM

27 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Leeds give the ball away in their own half. Kane breaks forward and into the box but he is forced to turn back. The ball comes to Emerson but Harrison closes down his cross swiftly. Corner to Spurs.

04:55 PM

25 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Spurs are growing into this game. Reguilon whips a cross into the box which is well claimed by Meslier.

Klich rolls the ball to James who has his low cross volleyed away. Some slick passing ends up with a loose ball to Lloris.

04:52 PM

22 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Harrison drives forward, trying to work a one-two. The return ball towards the winger has too much on it and Harrison goes down, more in hope than expectation.

Son drives down the right wing, squaring the ball to Kane who takes a touch in the box. Phillips nips in just as the striker was about to pull the trigger.

04:50 PM

20 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

The corner makes its way through the box to Reguilon who has his shot blocked by Phillips. Leeds hack the ball clear, a foul then committed on Lucas on half-way.

Spurs spread the ball from side to side, frustrating the home crowd with their lateral play.

04:47 PM

18 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Leeds work their way up the pitch, Spurs' defence holding firm.

Tottenham mount a rare attack. Emerson gets in behind, his cross into the box is headed behind for a corner to the hosts.

04:45 PM

15 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Leeds win a corner, much to the delight of the vocal away support. The ball falls to Gelhardt who hits a left-footed shot high and wide.

04:43 PM

12 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

The game continuing to follow a similar pattern...Leeds controlling the ball with Spurs hemmed in.

No serious chances of note for either side so far though.

04:38 PM

7 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

You can't imagine Antonio Conte will be best pleased with his side's start and there are some worried shouts from the home crowd as Leeds dominate possession.

Tottenham have been forced on to the back foot and penned in their own half. Dallas thrashes a shot just past the post as the visitors continue to control the game.

04:35 PM

4 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

The visitors have dominated the ball so far with Spurs struggling to win it back.

Gelhardt does well to ride a couple of challenges on the right wing before feeding James who has a decent chance to cross...but he overhits it and it's out for a throw.

04:32 PM

2 mins: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

Decent start from Leeds who nick the ball in midfield, and it drops to former Wigan youngster Gelhardt who darts forward and is brought down 25 yards out.

04:30 PM

1 min: Tottenham 0 Leeds 0

The home side get things under way.

04:19 PM

Tomato sauce and pizza off the menu as Conte cracks down on diets

Antonio Conte has warned his Tottenham players that there is no escaping his strict rules on diet and sleep as he attempts to whip them into shape, reports Matt Law.

Head coach Conte has banned treats such as tomato sauce and pizza at all the clubs he has been in charge of and confirmed that he will make sure his Spurs players are put on new diets.

Conte also demands that his players sleep enough in between games and even gave his Inter Milan squad advice over their sex lives in a bid to beat exhaustion.

While Conte can control his players’ behaviour at the training ground, he must trust they follow his rules at home and in their private lives. And the Italian has warned he will find out if they try to cheat.

04:08 PM

Antonio Conte's pre-match thoughts

03:42 PM

That's two changes apiece

Antonio Conte has made two changes for his first home Premier League game in charge of Tottenham.

Cristian Romero is out injured and Oliver Skipp suspended so Japhet Tanganga and Harry Winks come in.

Leeds have also made two changes, with Joe Gelhardt coming in for Rodrigo, who has a foot injury, while Mateusz Klich replaces the ill Raphinha.

03:33 PM

Team news klaxon

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Tanganga, Dier, Davies, Emerson, Hojbjerg, Winks, Reguilon, Lucas Moura, Son, Kane. Subs: Doherty, Sanchez, Gil Salvatierra, Rodon, Sessegnon, Alli, Gollini, Bergwijn, Ndombele.

Leeds: Meslier, Dallas, Llorente, Cooper, Struijk, Phillips, James, Forshaw, Klich, Harrison, Gelhardt.

Subs: Firpo, Roberts, Klaesson, Cresswell, Drameh, McKinstry, Greenwood, McCarron, Jenkins.

03:27 PM

Some pre-match reading for Tottenham fans

Matt Law has analysed Antonio Conte's options in defence, midfield and attack as the new Spurs era begins in earnest.

03:22 PM

The Spurs players have arrived

12:27 PM

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Tottenham vs Leeds

By Mike McGrath

After arriving later than expected due to training, Eric Dier’s message following two weeks of intense work under Antonio Conte was that the Tottenham players must be ready to change their ways.

It has been an international break packed with running drills and extended sessions for those left at Spurs’ training base at Bulls Cross as Conte implements his plan to revive the club’s season after succeeding Nuno Espirito Santo.

Conte wants his players to live football excellence, which includes diet and lifestyle away from the training pitches.

“The most important thing is that us as players, we are ready to change in whatever way he thinks best for us to be able to improve as a team,” Dier said.

“They are very, very demanding sessions, physically and mentally, but very enjoyable.

“Anyone that was here during the Pochettino days knows what a tough session feels like, and there have certainly been some over the past few weeks.

“Some really tough sessions, running sessions, and working without the ball.

“There’s definitely been some more meetings and some longer sessions on the training ground. Which I think everyone is enjoying, and enjoying working in this way. His attention to detail is incredible, it’s amazing. The amount of information. When we analyse training and games, he makes it so simple to understand. It’s so clear what he wants.

“As a player, you know exactly what he wants because his messages are so clear and understandable.”

Dier could be one of the beneficiaries of Conte’s favoured 3-4-3 system, with Cristian Romero out of the clash against Leeds United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium today, meaning he is likely to be in the back line.

Against Marcelo Bielsa’s team, Dier expects a frenetic encounter, although he says it is difficult to say that Conte’s system is any particular formation as he is constantly changing it within matches. “One of the things is just to see the tactical system with five at the back that is so dynamic and constantly moving. Player positionings are constantly moving, so it is difficult to call it any kind of tactical set-up,” he said.

“I’ve played against it in the past when the manager was at Chelsea and remember those games very well and trying to contain his system. Now being the protagonists of it is really interesting, and I am playing it in a way I’ve never played it before.

“We faced Leeds last season and it’s controlled chaos from them. They know what they are doing, but they try to cause the other team to feel that it is completely chaotic.”

While Dier has played in every Premier League game this season, others such as Dele Alli will be hoping to force their way into Conte’s plans after being left out of the team under Nuno.

“When a new manager comes in there tends to be a freshness around the building, everyone feels like they are starting from zero again, there is a clean slate,” Dier said. “There is that freshness to things.

“I think what is important is that once we get past that phase that everyone maintains that level of intensity in their work, that we build a very strong group here and are all working in the right way with the right mentality.

“That is the most important thing, to strive to improve as a group and get back to where we want to be.”

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