JOHN CROSS: Tottenham trailed at half-time in Conte’s first home Premier League game in charge, but turned it around to score twice after the break to beat Leeds 2-1
The honeymoon period lasted all of 45 minutes for Antonio Conte.
But Conte quickly showed who is boss in this marriage as Tottenham turned half-time boos into cheers by the final whistle.
It was far from convincing and, if anything, it underlined the size of the task facing the Spurs boss because the squad looks a long way from being top-four material.
Leeds battled, scrapped and for long periods frustrated a Tottenham side who had forgotten how to have a shot on target never mind score a goal.
But even so, having given Conte a marvellous reception before kick-off ahead of his first home game in the Premier League, the patience lasted all of 45 minutes because Spurs were booed off by their own fans after a turgid first half.
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Conte must have worked his magic in the dressing room, Tottenham came out a different team in the second half and turned the game on its head for a much needed three points.
Italian Conte probably did as much running as any of his players with his touchline histrionics and efforts to whip up the crowd before sprinting onto the pitch at the end to bear hug his players.
One thing is for sure, life is rarely dull under Conte and, even if the players are not what he is used to, the Tottenham boss’s infectious enthusiasm will definitely lift them.
You had to feel sorry for Leeds because they played so well in the first half, Kalvin Phillips was the outstanding player on the pitch in a strange sweeper role as he stopped Harry Kane and yet ultimately they could not hold on.
They are left hovering dangerously just two points above the drop zone, Marcelo Bielsa has brought so much to Leeds but this season looks like it is going to be one long struggle.
Tottenham just could not find a rhythm in the first half and even when they did get forward, Phillips seemed to be everywhere, shutting down the danger.
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Incredibly, Tottenham had gone 226 minutes without a shot on target before the game which eventually went to 272 – a minute after half time – before they finally found some range.
It just meant that Leeds soaked up the pressure, Phillips ran the show and gradually the visitors grew in confidence and took the lead a minute before half time.
Jack Harrison absolutely skinned Emerson Royal down the left, put over a low cross and there was Dan James at the back post to slam home from point blank range.
Then came the boos. Tottenham must have got a rocket. They nearly scored straight after the restart as Kane’s shot hit Leeds keeper Illan Meslier’s leg, deflected onto the post. Soon after, Heung-Min Son’s shot was deflected onto the bar. It was coming.
Tottenham levelled after 58 minutes. Sergio Reguilon’s cross caused chaos, Lucas Moura picked up the scraps and fed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who swept the ball home.
Now it was just a matter of time. Moura was fouled by Liam Cooper on the edge of the box. Eric Dier took the free kick, it was deflected off the wall and hit the post.
But there was Reguilon chasing in and he reacted quicker than everyone else to slam home the rebound.
Leeds pressed for an equaliser, Phillips stepped up into midfield but, with no Patrick Bamford or Raphinha they are struggling, and they did not create anything else.
It was the first Premier League win of the Conte era, the second half showed plenty of encouraging signs and his energy does not take long to change the mood.