Football Features

“The mentality of a striker” – Sergio Reguilon rises to see Spurs beat Leeds and deliver Conte’s first Premier League win

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:52, 21 November 2021

Spurs came from behind to record the first Premier League win under Antonio Conte, beating Leeds 2-1.

The away side had dominated the first-half with a majestic man-marking display typical of their manager Marcelo Bielsa. Their intensity, drive and focus has pushed Conte’s Spurs back and prevented them from making too many attacking forays.

But Spurs never stopped running, never stopped coming. Not when Dan James gave Leeds a 44th minute lead, not when Kalvin Phillips almost completely dominated Harry Kane in open play over and over again.

Spurs equalised through Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and they took the lead late in the game through their wing-back, Sergio Reguilon.

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It was a superb goal in terms of what it said about Reguilon’s mental focus. In terms of actual quality it was a poor free-kick from Eric Dier that was deflected onto the post, rooting Ilan Meslier to the turf. As the ball bounced out, one could have expected Harry Kane to be ready to tap home.

But no, the one showing the striker’s instincts, the one absolutely lasered in on giving his side the lead, was Sergio Reguilon. The Spaniard who has endured a tricky time with Spurs so far ran unmarked from the far side of the wall, staying onside he was in the right place to tap home when the ball flew off the woodwork.

It was a simple goal but it meant so much to a Spurs side that are desperate to get started under their new Italian coach. Conte, for his part, was seeing geeing up the crowd and calling on them to roar the team home. And to be fair the new stadium did get awfully loud in response.

It was all charged from Reguilon’s goal, of course. Yes Spurs upped their intensity and out-ran the relentless Leeds side (and Reguilon won possession an impressive 10 times) but the goal gave that running and work purpose.

After the match a clearly exhausted Reguilon said of his goal: “when we attack I have to have the mentality of a striker,” speaking to the demands Antonio Conte is making of all his players.

During commentary Alan Smith pointed out that Conte would have to rely on his wing-backs (as he so often does) and said “I think Reguilon could play a big part,” going forward.

The final word has to go to Reguilon though who, although he could barely speak more than six consecutive words without taking a breath due to the energy he had must put in, acknowledged his fatigue but also the joy that work has brought him.

“Now I’m dead, but I’m happy, so happy.”


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