LONDON (AP) — Antonio Conte registered a first Premier League win in charge of Tottenham as the team came from behind to beat Leeds 2-1.
The Italian will have been left in no doubt just how big a job he has on his hands, though.
Conte, who oversaw two games before the international break, watched his players get booed off at halftime after falling behind to Daniel James’ strike.
But a much-improved second-half performance saw goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon earn the three points and end the team's three-game winless run in the league.
Hojbjerg’s strike was Tottenham’s first in the Premier League since Son Heung-min scored at Newcastle in early October, well over four hours of action, and improvements are still necessary.
But the win moved Tottenham up to seventh, just four points off the top four. And with Manchester United firing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earlier Sunday, the Spurs hierarchy will be pleased they made the move to get Conte three weeks ago.
Leeds could have left north London with at least a point as the team had other good chances to get a second goal. The defeat, though, left Marcelo Bielsa's side hovering above the relegation zone.
Conte’s appointment has brought enhanced expectations at Spurs, but the opening 45 minutes showed work is needed.
Leeds, without two of its best players in Rodrigo and Raphinha, were organized and its collective sum was much more than that of Tottenham’s individual talent.
Kalvin Phillips had a free kick saved early on by Hugo Lloris while Stuart Dallas also saw a rasping effort fly just wide.
Nuno Espirito Santo paid the price for a turgid style of football, but there was no improvement as any promising moments in attack were undone by loose passes at key moments.
Adam Forshaw drilled an effort inches wide so it was no surprise that the visitors took a 44th-minute lead.
Jack Harrison picked the ball up on the left-hand side and beat Emerson Royal with ease before sending a delicious cross that was begging to be converted. James obliged.
Nuno’s reign ended in boos against Manchester United, and Spurs were again jeered off the field at the interval having gone 272 Premier League minutes without producing a shot on goal.
Something had to change after the break and it did as the hosts finally played with some vigor in attack.
Harry Kane should have ended his and his team’s drought straight after the restart when Lucas Moura played him in but his shot was turned on to the post by goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
James threatened to add a second as he forced Lloris into a sprawling stop with a low effort, but Tottenham was building momentum.
The hosts hit the woodwork for a second time when Son’s shot was deflected onto the crossbar and then wanted a penalty after the South Korean went down under an aborted challenge from Phillips.
The equalizer came in the 58th as Moura fielded Reguilon’s cross at the near post and, with Meslier out of position, he cut the ball back to Hojbjerg whose bobbled finish found the far corner.
Spurs completed the turnaround 11 minutes later with a stroke of fortune after again hitting the woodwork.
Eric Dier’s free kick from 20 meters (yards) was deflected onto the post and Reguilon was following up to ram the rebound home.
Leeds had moments of promise in the search for an equalizer but could not forge a clear chance and Spurs held on for an important victory.
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