Steven Bergwijn, fortunate only to have been booked for shoving Caglar Soyuncu as this game entered injury time with Leicester City winning 2-1, scored the two goals in stoppage time that enabled Tottenham Hotspur to climb to fifth place in the Premier League.
The Dutch winger, strongly linked with a possible move to Ajax, only came on in the 79th minute as Antonio Conte sought to extend his unbeaten league start as Spurs manager to nine games.
His frustration seemed to boil over as, having fallen easily to the ground seeking an unlikely penalty, he reacted angrily to Soyuncu telling him to get up.
Instead Bergwijn sent Spurs fans into delirium as he equalized when Matt Doherty’s run into the area saw the ball fall off Soyuncu’s chest for the £25m winger to slot home.
Then, when Youri Tielemans sloppily gave the ball away from kick-off, Harry Kane sent Bergwijn through the middle to round Kasper Schmeichel and shoot past Soyuncu on the line and in off the far post. Bergwijn hurdled the hoardings to celebrate with the Spurs fans and, when the final whistle on a crazy game blew seconds later, it was Kane who led the impassioned partying with the visiting crowd.
Neither team had kicked a Premier League ball since New Year’s Day or before but amidst all the Covid cases, cup games and cacophony over postponements, Spurs had burst out of the traps with all the zest usually accompanying a new season.
Despite Leicester somehow taking the lead through Patson Daka midway through the first half, Kane’s equaliser seven minutes before the break against his favourite opponents was among his seven attempts on goal in a topsy-turvy 45 minutes.
Kane has 18 goals in 17 games against Leicester, the team for whom he scored twice in 13 Championship games while on loan here in 2012/13. But it was the spring in his step, the lack of rust, that was most gratifying for Spurs fans, and, in this World Cup year, those of England.
Whether it was from the freshness or frustration of not playing the North London derby last Sunday when Arsenal had successfully appealed for the game to be called off by the Premier League for a shortage of players, Spurs belied the defensive-looking nature of their lineup to launch themselves at Leicester in the early stages. Kane, in the ninth minute, beat James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Soyuncu in the tightest of spaces down the inside-left channel of the penalty area before shooting past Schmeichel only for Luke Thomas to cleverly clear the ball off the line with his heel.
Then Kane thudded a header from Harry Winks’ corner against the crossbar in the 18th minute as Spurs looked to move level on points with West Ham United in fourth place.
Lucas Moura had a right-footed blast parried behind by Schmiechel while Davinson Sanchez headed wide from Sergio Reguilón’s right-wing cross. It seemed only a matter of time before Spurs took the lead despite their fans taking to Twitter beforehand to bemoan a midfield of Winks, Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg ostensibly sitting in front of a back five.
Leicester, lest it be forgotten, have also had their selection issues and, while they had James Justin back in the squad for the first time in 11 months after his ACL injury, they were still missing seven players who would all count themselves first-choice players.
In the continued absence of Jamie Vardy, Daka has been asked to lead the line and he was on hand to finish neatly in the 24th minute from Leicester’s first attempt at goal. This mirrored their win over Liverpool in their last league game, so few Foxes fans were complaining.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall made good progress down the left wing before Ademola Lookman burst onto his pass inside, via a touch off Daka, and Reguilón threw his hands towards his face as he realised his interception was falling back into the path of the Zambian, whose shot went in off the near post for his eighth goal in all competitions.
Leicester’s tails briefly lifted, Maddison’s superb effort being tipped aside by Hugo Lloris, as this game started to swing from end to end like some crazy playground finale when the teacher has rung the bell for class. Trouble was, there was still an hour left to play.
Spurs finally got their equaliser when Jannik Vestergaard’s loose pass was intercepted by Skipp and Winks immediately, intelligently, played the ball into the inside-right channel the Danish defender had vacated. There Kane scurried before cutting back inside Soyuncu and slotting home his fourth goal of the season in off the far post.
With each team fielding three central defenders, but dropping to a 5-3-2 out of possession, and both playing a winger alongside their No9 up front, there could have been a prospect of a defensive stalemate.
No fear: you attack, we attack; we’re as good as you, you’re as bad as us.
It looked like Leicester had won it 14 minutes from time. Brendan Rodgers has had a tougher ride than usual from the Leicester City faithful during this bewildering winter but, within a minute of introducing Harvey Barnes late on, the Leicester manager was celebrating as his substitute made the goal for Maddison.
Maddison netted at the culmination of a sweet move in which he spun Tielemans’ pass round the corner and ran on to a clever return from Barnes before scoring via a deflection off Japhet Tanganga. But this crazy game still had a crazy finish to come.