Leicester are the champions!


Spurs had to win to extend the Barclays Premier League title race for another week, but a late equaliser by Eden Hazard gave Chelsea a 2-2 draw to end Mauricio Pochettino’s team’s bid for the championship.

So the fairytale has come true for Claudio Ranieri’s team, as Leicester clinched the club’s first ever Premier League trophy in their 132-year history.

But it looked like the Foxes were going to have to do it the hard way by beating Everton at the weekend after Spurs striker Harry Kane fired his team into the lead in the 35th minute, all but securing the Golden Boot award with his 25th goal of the season.

It was a piece of vintage Spurs play as the much-maligned Erik Lamela, who hasn’t quite fulfilled his potential this season, produced a terrific through-ball that split the Chelsea defence, with Kane easily beating Asmir Begovic in goal.

It came at just the right time for Spurs after Chelsea had made a promising start as Guus Hiddink’s outfit played with the verve and passion that has been largely missing from their ill-fated campaign.

Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Cost all went close in the opening half-hour for the home side, but the Spurs defence of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris stood firm.

Lamela nearly added a second just five minutes before halftime as right back Kyle Walker squared the ball into the Chelsea penalty area, but Lamela’s shot was blocked by a diving Cahill inside the six-yard box.

But John Terry’s men weren’t as fortunate just before the break as right back Branislav Ivanovic lost possession inside his own half, and Christian Eriksen broke open the Chelsea defence once more.

South Korean Son Heung-Min kept his cool to shoot past Begovic at the near post, and it was 2-0 to Pochettino’s men, who were attempting to win at Stamford Bridge for the first time in the league since 1990.

At that stage, it looked as if the party at Leicester striker Jamie Vardy’s house was going to be a damp squib, as the Foxes would need to beat Everton on Saturday to win the title.

But in a tempestuous clash, Chelsea were inspired by halftime substitute Hazard, who brought that bite that was missing in the Blues’ energetic approach.

The Belgian star had a chance on goal soon after the break, but a weak shot was well held by Lloris.

But Chelsea got the breakthrough when Spurs failed to clear a corner, and the ball fell to Cahill, who showed a cool temperament to finish inside the box to reduce the deficit in the 58th minute.

That ramped up the pressure on Pochettino’s men, and they never recovered. Willian was put through by Diego Costa and couldn’t beat Lloris, while Hazard himself could’ve equalised with 18 minutes left.

Spurs substitute Ryan Mason, though, could’ve wrapped up the result when he found himself in space on the edge of the area, but he was unable to thread the ball through the Chelsea defence.

Then came the moment of magic from Hazard with seven minutes to go. Receiving the ball near the halfway line, the 25-year-old danced past a few defenders, found Diego Costa and continued his run, with Alderweireld failing to close down the Spanish striker.

Diego Costa delivered the return pass to Hazard, who wrapped his right foot around the ball from just outside the box and curled it beyond Lloris and into the top left-hand corner.

It was a moment of brilliance, and a fitting way to hand Leicester the title. The Stamford Bridge crowd chanted Ranieri’s name, with the Italian having once been in charge of the Blues before being sacked by Roman Abramovich.

TV footage afterwards showed the Leicester players jumping up and down at Vardy’s house, capping an unbelievable journey to the top after facing 5 000-1 odds at the start of the season to become champions.

Ranieri wasn’t there as he was on his way back from Italy, where he had spent the day with his 96-year-old mother.

Now Champions League football awaits them next season, but before that, the party was sure to go on well into the night at Vardy’s house and the Leicester city centre.

They will receive the Premier League trophy on Saturday at King Power Stadium when they host Everton.

Some consolation for Spurs is that they also secured a Champions League berth for next season, with the point from the draw ensuring that they cannot finish lower than third, with two games to go.



Original source: Leicester are the champions!