Riyad Mahrez netted his fourth goal of the season to preserve Leicester City’s unbeaten Premier League start in a 1-1 draw against Tottenham at a sweltering King Power Stadium.
Algeria international Mahrez was the star performer in Leicester’s opening wins over Sunderland and West Ham – responsible for half of their six goals – and he provided an instant response here in the 82nd minute – a minute after substitute Dele Alli notched his first goal for Tottenham.
Mahrez impressed throughout a game that saw a water break in each half due to soaring temperatures. After the second of those a pedestrian contest suddenly reached boiling point.
Substitute Alli got on the end of Nacer Chadli’s chipped cross to convert a diving header at the back post, but Spurs switched off from the restart and Mahrez latched onto Jamie Vardy’s flick-on, cut inside Jan Vertonghen and finished sublimely.
Tottenham are still without a win this season and it might have been worse for them in the 88th minute as Mahrez turned provider and Hugo Lloris saved Wes Morgan’s header from point-blank range.
New signing Gokhan Inler took his place on the bench as Ranieri stuck with the Leicester XI responsible for
a perfect start to the season, while Erik Lamela replaced Christian Eriksen due to a knee problem for Tottenham.
Mahrez was to the fore during the opening stages against a nervy Spurs backline – Shinji Okazaki having a shot blocked after the visitors failed to deal with Ritchie De Laet’s long throw.
Eric Dier netted a header in Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Stoke City last week, but could not repeat the trick on the end of Lamela’s 25th-minute corner before referee Martin Atkinson halted the action for a drinks break.
Following that time to cool down, Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel had his palms warmed by a Mousa Dembele drive.
In the 42nd minute, Vertonghen untidily challenged Mahrez and appeared to pull at the winger’s shirt in the area, but a well-placed Atkinson turned away penalty appeals.
Vertonghen found himself in an advanced position down the Leicester right seven minutes into the second half, when Lamela poked his low cross wide under pressure from Morgan.
Vardy and Tottenham’s Harry Kane were largely starved of service as they sought to press their claims before watching England manager Roy Hodgson. Kane crafted his own chance in the 63rd minute when he bustled into area and prodded his shot at Schmeichel.
Tottenham goalkeeper Loris was grateful to see a shot from Mahrez thud against the base of his near post and bounce to safety – the visiting defence once again unsettled by the winger’s pace and directness.
A showpiece recruit from Napoli, Inler was granted a rousing reception when he replaced Danny Drinkwater with 10 minutes to play, although it was another substitute, Alli, who threatened to steal the headlines.
But Leicester hauled themselves from the canvas immediately as Mahrez crowned his display in fitting fashion.
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