At times this felt like the Leicester City of two seasons ago, the Leicester who so wonderfully won the Premier League. But it did not feel like the Tottenham Hotspur of then, who ran them so close.
Leicester won here and deservedly so and there will be delight, for them, that in doing so they extinguished any flickering, improbable hope Spurs had of winning the league themselves this season. They suggested it was over last weekend. Well it is now despite their second-half efforts and a host of missed chances when they should have actually salvaged this.
Instead having almost won the league in the past two campaigns Spurs could be 16 points behind leaders Manchester City should City beat Southampton at home on Wednesday night. They are 11 points behind second-placed Manchester United.
In fact Spurs are in a fight to finish in the top four and could drop to seventh if other results go against them after suffering their third successive away defeat in the league and have now won only one of their last five league matches.
For Leicester this was vintage Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez while new boy Vicente Iborra was outstanding in their midfield even if they ended up hanging on with Spurs, who missed four clear chances, demanding an injury-time penalty after Danny Rose went down as he shaped to shoot
The conviction was there from Leicester as they sprung at Spurs and twice Vardy almost burst through, a Hugo Lloris intervention and a blocked cross denying him, before the first shot was sent in low by Wilfried Ndidi. It was Vardy, also, who gained the corner which was met by Wes Morgan with a header only for Danny Rose, recalled as he continued to rotate with Ben Davies, to volley away from close to the goal-line. Lloris was beaten.
The goalkeeper was beaten again, soon after, and this time the ball was in the net. Harry Maguire stepped forward from defence – as he can, as he has done to earn a place in the England squad – and sent the ball out wide to Marc Albrighton who flighted an astute pass over for Vardy who ran between Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez and reacted superbly to improvise and loft a controlled right-footed volley over the stranded Lloris for the 100th league goal of his career. Leicester were ahead and it was a lovely goal from their striker.
Vardy reeled away in celebration, cupping his ear as he ran past the Spurs fans who had been attempting to goad him about the involvement of his wife, Rebecca, in the television show “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”.
As those celebrations continued in the stands, Spurs should have drawn level with Moussa Sissoko released through on goal by Harry Kane, after the striker had turned sharply, only for him to delay, as he tried to pick his spot, with Kasper Schmeichel deflecting his eventual side-footed shot.
Still it may well have spun into the goal but for Vicente Iborra running back to clear. Eventually Kane had a chance of his own as he checked, turned Iborra only to shoot over the angle of post and cross-bar and then, once more, Spurs should have equalised when they broke from a corner with Kane setting Christian Eriksen free. He found Dele Alli whose first shot was saved by Schmeichel, with his legs, only for him to miscue the rebound as it hurtled at him. Even then it went goalwards and Kane thought about turning it home only to realise he was offside with the ball trickling agonisingly wide.
It was open and end-to-end with Vardy creating problems for the Spurs defence. Back came Leicester with Rose just cutting out a Vardy cross and almost turning it into his own goal and then Morgan peeling free from a free-kick although he could not direct his header on target.
Spurs countered once more with Kane switching play to pick out Rose who chested the ball down – only to blast it wildly, wastefully, over the bar as the visitors, finally, began to apply concerted pressure reducing Leicester to sporadic counter-attacks.
Could they make the breakthrough before the break? Instead it was Leicester who struck, and with another glorious goal, and on the counter. They poured forward and Ndidi sliding the ball out wide to Riyad Mahrez who teased Jan Vertonghen, cutting inside to arc a wonderful left-foot shot from the area’s edge around Lloris. The stadium erupted.
Spurs were sent out early for the second-half. Manager Mauricio Pochettino took his seat even earlier, his face like thunder. His team needed something. Instead Leicester should have gone further ahead when Shinji Okazaki, in space, met Albrighton’s cross – after more good work from Iborra and Vardy – only to glance his header over.
Spurs became increasingly desperate, increasingly feisty, with Rose pushing Mahrez after he was held back, and half chances came and went as they were snatched at or hurried with a lack of composure.