Tottenham 4 Leeds 3
A dramatic late double from Rodrigo Bentancur fired Tottenham to a thrilling 4-3 victory over Leeds to help them finish the first half of the Premier League season with a much-needed win.
The visitors had gone ahead three times in London, but tasted defeat after Uruguayan midfielder Bentancur firstly levelled in the 81st minute before he grabbed what proved to be the winner two minutes later.
It meant Rodrigo’s impressive double and Crysencio Summerville’s opener for Leeds counted for little after Spurs mounted several fightbacks to end a tough period with a crucial three points.
Recent home league defeats to Newcastle and Liverpool, in addition to their Carabao Cup exit at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, had contributed towards boss Antonio Conte reiterating the need for patience and time.
Injuries had played a big part in their mixed form during a period where they played 13 matches in 43 days but they concluded it with victory in a seven-goal thriller after talisman Harry Kane netted and Illan Meslier scored an unfortunate own goal.
Spurs entered this game following back-to-back defeats but Conte was boosted by attackers Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison being able to start together for the first time since September 17.
All eyes were on Kane given this was the last match before the World Cup but it was the other number 10 on the pitch who stole the show early on.
Leeds’ young forward Summerville had struck in their recent wins over Liverpool and Bournemouth, and scored for the fourth consecutive game in the 10th minute.
Brenden Aaronson – one of 11 players starting this fixture set for Qatar – held off Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and slid through to Summerville, who fired beyond Hugo Lloris after running too easily away from Eric Dier and Emerson Royal.
It was another horror start from Tottenham, but they should have levelled eight minutes later only for Emerson to slice over following Ben Davies’ cutback.
The Spurs right-back had also tested Meslier moments earlier and yet the next big opportunity went the visitors’ way.
Aaronson sent Summerville away again but, despite Lloris briefly hesitating, the France goalkeeper was able to block the toe-poke of the Leeds forward.
It proved crucial with Tottenham equalising with 25 minutes on the clock.
Ivan Perisic’s inswinging delivery was only weakly punched away by Meslier to Kane, who brilliantly turned away from Tyler Adams and fired home for his 13th goal of the season.
Leeds remonstrated with referee Michael Salisbury and wanted a foul after Richarlison and Clement Lenglet both collided with Meslier but their appeals were waved away.
The frustration of Jesse Marsch on the touchline was eased when Rodrigo helped the away side retake the lead two minutes before half-time.
More poor defending saw Dier play Rodrigo onside from Rasmus Kristensen’s header forward and the Spaniard’s volley beat Lloris too easily to make it 2-1 to Leeds at the break.
Spurs needed a quick response and found one thanks to a hint of fortune six minutes into the second half.
Kulusevski got in behind the Leeds defence and found Kane, who saw a shot blocked by Kristensen. Davies was first to the follow-up and, while Kristensen got in front of his effort, he could only divert the ball on to Meslier and it rolled over the line.
Conte decided to replace the inconsistent Emerson soon after and it was met unsavoury cheers from the home fans.
Replacement Matt Doherty would make an impact but only after Rodrigo fired in his second in the 76th minute after controlling Marc Roca’s pass and drilling into the corner beyond Lloris to make it 3-2.
A quick response occurred again with Doherty’s cross headed out to the edge of the area where Bentancur chested down and fired through a number of bodies to help Spurs level for a third time.
With nine minutes left, Tottenham were now chasing the all-important fourth goal and it arrived in the 83rd minute.
Kane set away Kulusevski, who dribbled past Robin Koch and was able to draw Meslier out of his goal which allowed the Sweden international to square for Bentancur to slot home his fifth goal of the campaign.
Leeds’ Adams received a second yellow card and his marching orders not long after before a topsy-turvy clash came to an end.
Nottingham Forest 1 Crystal Palace 0
Morgan Gibbs-White grabbed the only goal as Nottingham Forest beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at the City Ground on Saturday to ensure that they won’t spend Christmas at the bottom of the Premier League.
Forest’s third victory of the season in their final game before the World Cup break lifted them off the bottom of the standings to 18th place on 13 points, one ahead of Southampton, who lost 3-1 to Liverpool, and three ahead of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who face leaders Arsenal later on Saturday.
Wilfried Zaha got off to a good start for Palace with some promising raids down the left, but it was Jesse Lingard that came closest to breaking the deadlock early on.
Still searching for his first Premier League goal for Forest, the 29-year-old came steaming in at the far post in the 16th minute but he couldn’t get a touch on a cross-shot from Brennan Johnson and the ball flew wide.
The lively Lingard thought he had won a penalty when he was tripped in the 29th minute by Tyrick Mitchell, but the foul took place just outside the penalty area and only resulted in a free kick and a yellow card for the Palace defender.
Instead, it was Palace who were awarded a spot-kick when Joe Worrall brought down Zaha just before halftime. Zaha took the penalty himself but fired wide.
With neither side managing to get many shots on target, Gibbs-White finally put the ball in the net in the 54th minute after pouncing on the rebound from a Johnson shot, and though the assistant referee initially ruled he was offside, the goal was allowed to stand after a lengthy VAR review.
Lingard could have killed the game off in the 75th minute after a brilliant Forest attack in which Gibbs-White picked out Brennan in the box. However, Lingard hit Brennan’s pass wide of the right-hand post with the goal at his mercy.
Palace left plenty of space for Forest to exploit as they poured forward looking for an equaliser, but the home side hung on for a much-needed win.
West Ham 0 Leicester 2
James Maddison’s World Cup place could be in jeopardy after he limped off during Leicester’s 2-0 win at West Ham.
The midfielder, called into Gareth Southgate’s England squad on Thursday, went down holding his leg in the 23rd minute at the London Stadium.
After receiving treatment on the pitch the midfielder, who had opened the scoring with his seventh goal of the season, gingerly left the field.
With England’s first match just nine days away, even a relatively minor injury could mean Maddison missing out in Qatar.
It would be a cruel blow for a player whose exceptional form this season prompted Southgate to call him up after three years in the international wilderness.
However, the sight of Maddison sitting behind the substitutes’ bench laughing and smiling with his team-mates suggested the injury may not be as serious as first feared.
Just 15 minutes earlier Maddison had illustrated exactly why Southgate turned to him.
His clever flick started the move in midfield, and when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s low cross was helped on by Patson Daka, the 25-year-arrived at the far post to sweep the ball home.
But soon after Maddison was sitting in the centre-circle holding his leg and being consoled by Three Lions team-mate Declan Rice.
The injury overshadowed another fine win for Leicester with winger Harvey Barnes, himself once capped for England in 2020, wrapping it up late in the second half.
West Ham also suffered an injury blow in the first half when defender Kurt Zouma, who hurt himself in the warm-up, hobbled off.
Yet the hosts, in desperate need of a win after a miserable run of results, perked up after Maddison’s departure and Said Benrahma and Lucas Paqueta forced fine saves from Danny Ward.
Tomas Soucek had the ball in the net but Jarrod Bowen, one of the players who could potentially replace Maddison in the England squad, was offside in the build-up.
Shortly before half-time Leicester were awarded a penalty after VAR correctly ruled that Craig Dawson had fouled Daka in the area.
Youri Tielemans stepped up to take the spot-kick but his effort was saved by Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
It was a big let-off for West Ham, who went in search of an equaliser after the break with Rice heading narrowly over and Gianluca Scamacca just failing to get on the end of Thilo Kehrer’s cross.
But just as the Hammers were building up a head of steam, a cross-field pass from substitute Pablo Fornals was intercepted and Leicester broke.
Ayoze Perez noticed Barnes tearing past him down the left and played a perfectly weighted pass for the 24-year-old to slot past Fabianski and seal a fourth Premier League win in five matches for the Foxes.
Bournemouth 3 Everton 0
Bournemouth stormed to a dominant 3-0 victory over a lacklustre Everton to pile even more pressure on manager Frank Lampard ahead of the World Cup break.
The Cherries beat Everton 4-1 in the Carabao Cup in midweek at the Vitality Stadium to progress to the fourth round of the competition, and controlled Saturday’s Premier League game.
Qatar-bound Jordan Pickford was partially at fault for the Bournemouth opener when the England goalkeeper spilled a Dominic Solanke shot into the path of Marcus Tavernier, who slotted home.
Kieffer Moore added a second in the 25th minute, before all three points were wrapped up by substitute Jadon Anthony in the second half.
Bournemouth had gone into the game on a run of four straight league defeats with interim manager Gary O’Neil yet to be awarded a permanent contract, but they took a further step towards safety against the Toffees.
Everton had scored just 11 goals in 14 Premier League matches before the trip to the south coast and were unable to improve on their tally against Bournemouth and they go into the World Cup break with just 14 points.
Neal Maupay, brought into the side in the place of the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, had the first clear chance of the game for the visitors when the ball was deflected to him on the edge of the box, but his effort flew over the bar.
After having a shot saved in the 10th minute, Tavernier slotted past Pickford in the 18th to open the scoring for his side. Solanke’s shot was parried by Pickford straight into the path of Tavernier, who only had to slot the ball into an open net.
Bournemouth had their second shortly afterwards, albeit in slightly controversial fashion, but the fault did not lay at the hands of the goalkeeper.
Pickford made a good save from Philip Billing but Tavernier then beat two players to head the ball back into the mix, with Moore on the far post to put the ball over the line.
James Tarkowski went down in the build-up with a head injury, but despite going down before the goal, referee Craig Pawson did not blow immediately and it was allowed to stand.
There was a moment of concern for Wales fans when goalscorer Moore pulled up and received on-field treatment for a knee injury, but he was able to continue.
Amadou Onana went down under a heavy challenge from Lewis Cook, and VAR reviewed the decision for a possible red card but play was allowed to continue with the defender shown a yellow card.
The home side started the second half in the same fashion in the first, with Billing sending a header wide as Bournemouth looked brighter than the visitors.
Pickford looked to redeem himself after his earlier errors and made two quick-fire saves to deny Solanke and Tavernier just after the break.
Nathan Patterson had a short from distance after the ball was headed clear to him just outside the box – but his curled effort went over the crossbar.
Bournemouth all but sealed all three points in the 69th minute when Anthony scored just moments after being brought on. He was unmarked at the far post to head past Pickford from a Cook cross.
Gary O’Neil’s side thought they had a fourth but Solanke’s low drive was ruled out for offside.