Tottenham Hotspur’s supporters like to remind us that Mauricio Pochettino is magic and this was another of those nights where their manager could do no wrong.
Pochettino took a calculated risk by resting stars Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen, ahead of Tuesday’s crucial date with Lionel Messi and Co, but was rewarded with a result which leaves hopes of the Premier League title still lingering.
Son Heung-min’s excellent first-half strike and Dele Alli’s 50th in a Spurs jersey will send Pochettino’s men to Barcelona in confident mood and, on current form, it would be foolish to write them off.
This was their eight victory from the last nine games and enough to lift Spurs above Arsenal and Manchester City’s conquerors Chelsea into third place, a mere six points behind leaders Liverpool.
Pochettino’s bold decision to leave Kane and Eriksen on the bench was fully vindicated as Claude Puel’s Leicester slipped to their first defeat since October 22.
This could have been messy for Spurs, but now they will face Messi knowing that anything is possible.
Pochettino said: “It is a game we must win but we will arrive in the best condition, though Barcelona are one of the best teams in Europe.
“It will be a massive occasion and it is true they have already qualified. I was thinking of Barcelona with my team here, but the belief we have in our squad is massive. Harry needed a rest because it is not possible to play every three days, it was the best decision for the player.
“We are also there fighting in a very good position in the Premier League and that is the reality. The most important thing is to be there and be there in the last five, six or seven games to fight.”
Spurs’ Champions League adventure appeared over last month, but Tuesday’s game with Barcelona represents a chance to salvage it at the death. It is quite simply win or bust and Pochettino was taking no risks here at the King Power.
Kane has proven a one-man wrecking ball to Leicester over the years, with 13 goals in 11 appearances before Saturday night against the club where he once endured an underwhelming spell on loan.
Indeed, this was the first time Kane and Eriksen were both absent from a Spurs starting XI since a 4-0 defeat against Chelsea in March 2014, but Pochettino clearly had other priorities. “Barcelona, we’re coming for you,” was chanted frequently by the travelling support.
Despite those changes for Spurs, this was always going to represent a huge test for Leicester, who were again without the injured Jamie Vardy.
Leicester lifted the league title two years ago, and have spent over £100million since, but continue to remain so reliant on their 31-year-old talisman. Kelechi Iheanacho, signed for £25m from Manchester City last year, endured a difficult evening as a lone striker.
The home team did start brightly, with Wilfred Ndidi hooking a shot horribly wide after he was sent clear by Vicente Iborra while Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell threatened sporadically on the flanks.
Spurs were struggling to make many opportunities of their own and Son was frequently isolated up front against the towering figures of Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans, offering no hint of what was to follow.
But out of nowhere, Spurs took the lead in first-half injury time with what is now a trademark goal from their South Korean. Coming inside on his left foot, Leicester’s defence stood off and Son curled a wonderful shot past Kasper Schmeichel from 25 yards.
Spurs were in the ascendancy in the second-half and after 58 minutes, the game was put beyond Leicester.
Son was released down the left and stayed patient, waiting for team-mates to find space away from Leicester’s defenders, before sending over an exquisite cross which was dispatched by Dele with a diving header at the far post. The half-century was up, a remarkable personal achievement, and Spurs were coasting.
Pochettino even allowed himself the luxury of bringing on Eriksen and Kane for the final stages.
Leicester did battle for a consolation but perhaps Puel needs to rethink his strategy for the January transfer window after such a flat performance. No Vardy, no party.
Puel said: “I’m frustrated and it was tough to get back into the game after the two goals.
“We conceded at bad times and we didn’t show enough intensity in our play. We have a young team and we must give them opportunities to improve.”
Full time: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
The dictionary definition of efficient from Spurs, who have tuned up nicely for their midweek trip to Barcelona with a very routine dispatching of Leicester here. Son Heung-min's excellent opener set it all up, and Dele Alli's tidy back-post header - his 50th goal for Spurs - wrapped it up. Job done.
36 - Tottenham’s tally of 36 points from 16 games is their best ever start to a Premier League season; indeed, only twice before have they had a better total after 16 matches in a top-flight campaign (46 in 1960-61 and 37 in 1956-57 – based on three points for a win). Impressive. pic.twitter.com/oxSPAzZ3If
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 8, 2018
90 min+2: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
The ball bounces off the corner flag and stays in. A minor football fetish. Anyway, Maddison sends a shot flying wide, and that is pretty much that.
90 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
Three added minutes!
87 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
Leicester huffing. Leicester puffing. Tottenham's house is not being blown down.
82 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
Booking for Demarai Gray for leaving a foot in on Spurs sub Kyle Walker-Peters as Leicester look a bit desperate.
79 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
Leicester roll the Shinji Okazaki dice. Spurs have another 12 minutes or so to stroll about.
74 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
We'll have a 15-minute workout for Harry Kane, who replaces the scored-one-made-one hero Son Heung-min.
71 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
Chance for Serge Aurier, who meets a cross from his opposite full-back Ben Davies with a downward header that bounces up and on to the roof of Schmeichel's net.
67 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
Maddison is felled by Davies to give Leicester another chance to load the box - mainly with Wes Morgan - but the cross is cleared and Ndidi hammers a volley way off target. Spurs make a change: off comes Moura, on comes Christian Eriksen.
62 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 2
Pack it all up, this game is done. That was Alli's 50th goal in a Tottenham shirt, on the same ground (and indeed the same square-yard of turf) where he scored his first. Leicester had few ideas already, now they have none. Half an hour to go...
GOAL! Leicester 0 Tottenham 2 (Alli, 58 min)
Those Leicester changes have an immediate impact: Spurs have doubled their lead. Moura feeds Son into space, and he clips a cross to the back post where Dele Alli is waiting to stoop and head in via the gloves of Schmeichel! Replays suggest a hint of offside, but too late for all that.
56 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 1
Changes for Leicester: off comes Iheanacho, on comes Rachid Ghezzal. Meanwhile, Marc Albrighton replaces Iborra.
53 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 1
Maddison gets between the lines, drifts the ball out to Gray, who tries to emulate Son by bursting back inside to shoot...but it's an easy one for Lloris.
49 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 1
Son swaps passes with Alli on the edge of the box and shapes up for a carbon copy of his goal...only to find the Leicestershire sky instead.
47 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 1
Leicester come out with purpose, and with Maddison at the heart of things again, but in the absence of Vardy there really isn't much to fear up top.
We go again...
Second half under way at the King Power - no changes for either side at the break...
Half time: Leicester 0 Tottenham 1
The first half skipped by pretty inoffensively, Leicester just about had the better of it...and then Son did that. For 45 of those 46 minutes, Spurs looked like their minds were on Barcelona - which is understandable - while, over in Spain, Lionel Messi and co are busy making mincemeat of Espanyol in the city derby.
Now it's about seeing this out as efficiently as possible and - if they can - keep Harry Kane on ice for midweek.
GOAL! Leicester 0 Tottenham 1 (Son, 45+1 min)
Just as it looked like we were meandering towards the break, in steps Son Heung-min from the right, on to his "weaker" left foot, and he absolutely nails one beyond the grasp of Kasper Schmeichel and into the corner! Great goal, great player, great stuff.
.@SpursOfficial end the half in style as @LCFC fail to clear their lines and Son capitalizes! ��
Watch more @PremierLeague clips and highlights on the @SkySports app! Download it here:
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 8, 2018
41 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Spurs do now have a free kick. 30-plus yards out, Son fancies it...and now the ball is in Row K.
38 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Alli goes down on the edge of the box, but referee Craig Pawson is unmoved. At the other end, Iheanacho breaks down the right but can't locate a blue shirt in the middle. Come on, let's have a goal.
35 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Iborra and Davies fly into a 50-50, the impact of which is picked up by the BT microphones, but both are fortunately intact. All hail the shinpad.
32 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Dele Alli is found in space with a quick throw and now it's his turn to act quickly to find Son in the middle, but again a Leicester leg is there to intercept!
29 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Dele Alli ghosts into the box, nutmegs a Leicester defender, but can't poke the ball goalwards. Corner. It's a deep one from Son, and Vertonghen can only pull a header high and wide.
25 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Moura plucks the ball out of the air at the back post and, for a moment, only has to square it to Dele Alli in the middle...but Wes Morgan is back to block. Phew.
21 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Maddison clips a ball over the top for Ricardo, but it skips off the King Power turf and away. Leicester hunting in packs whenever Spurs have the ball, but neither side putting together some meaningful attacking thrusts yet.
18 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
This game still taking shape, but Leicester looking like the team who don't have a crucial midweek business trip coming up. Son Heung-min chases a long ball over the top, but he only has Harry Winks for support. Earns a corner, though, which summons forward Spurs' heavy artillery...and it's cleared by the first man. Sake.
14 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Spurs enjoy a little more of the ball, but Leicester soon back on the attack with the electric Gray, who charges at the Tottenham defence to win another corner. Moura is back at the near post to clear.
11 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Chilwell races down the left, beyind Serge Aurier, but he can't find Iheanacho in the middle - corner. Maddison curls one to the back post, where a Spurs boot pokes it behind again. Over the no.10 trots to outswing one this time, but he balloons it long.
9 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Early booking for Eric Dier, who slides through the back of Iheanacho. Tasty.
8 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Wilfred Ndidi chases a long ball over the shoulder of Vertonghen and can't resist a hit: the ball flies waaaaaaay over the crossbar.
6 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Spurs free kick, out on the right. Son belts it in, Dier flicks on, but it comes to nothing but a Leicester counter-attack, which also fizzles out.
5 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Leicester looking bright: Iborra nearly sets Maddison through, but it's intercepted by Vertonghen on the stretch. Maddison was excellent against Fulham in midweek - a proper English no.10, eh?
2 min: Leicester 0 Tottenham 0
Leicester make the first move: Ricardo sets Iheanacho away in the right channel, but Moussa Sissoko is back to prevent any further progress inside the box.
Barcelona at the Nou Camp in 70 hours' time but, first, it's the bread-and-butter task of Leicester at the King Power. Spurs could go third with a win...
Here's some Gary Doherty magic from a 4-4 ding-dong battle at the Lane in 2004:
"What is he doing?!" is the appropriate response, co-commentator.
Leicester recall Demarai Gray, who was superb off the bench at Fulham in midweek
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 8, 2018
...while the big news for Spurs is that Harry Kane is on the bench!