…Hullish sort of places.
After seeing off AEL Limassol in the qualifying match with ease Spurs go into a Europa League group with no real glamour ties and hopefully no real banana skins.
Pochettino keeps up the win record in his first competitive games in charge while also seeing another clean sheet as the fringe players were given the chance to show they shouldn’t be offloaded, especially if he wants to do well in this competition.
The manager made nine changes from the weekend’s league outing and five from the first leg in Cypress showing the depth of players he has at his disposal. Now he has talked of the need to trim the numbers but to compete in Europe some of those that people would be happy to offload really need to be retained.
A pair of them that really have been linked with a move away showed their value last night as Spurs put three further goals past Limassol to progress to the group stage 5-1 on aggregate. Chiriches and Sandro.
While one that won’t be going anywhere showed he is a true Spurs player. Kane. While another didn’t get the chance, Soldado, out with an injured neck no doubt from craning out the dugout to see Adebayor prannying about followed by a quick turn of the neck to shoot Pochettino a WTF look.
Things started off brightly for Spurs as one player who has something prove, Paulinho, played a glorious cross field ball. what followed was fortunate and unfortunate. Unfortunately the ball found the advancing Naughton, who fortunately controlled it and then was fortunately taken out by the ‘keeper, for a penalty, because frankly he’d never have done anything good with it. Unfortunately Naughton, unlike the ‘keeper, wasn’t badly injured.
The seven or so minutes it took to stretcher the ‘keeper off pretty much guaranteed the outcome of the penalty. The fact Harry Kane was holding the ball throughout, really put the tin lid on it. It wasn’t a particularly bad pen, little higher and the sub ‘keeper wouldn’t have got a foot to it.
Well what says a true Spurs legend of late more than missing a penalty?
You did wonder if it would get to him and a couple of glaring chances that followed and missed, one particularly poor finish where he got his big curly toe under the ball and ballooned it over the bar from a few yards out suggested it had.
But then just before what would have been half-time had there not being those 7 minutes added he received a ball from Paulinho that the Brazilian had cut out and finished with aplomb. He still missed some chances but it preferable having him out there than the shyster Adebayor. Pochettino slumped back in his seat with an
about bloody time look on his face.
Four minutes after the break it really was done and dusted when Chiriches went on a charge up the pitch, inside the Limassol box his back heel lost possession but straight away he was in winning it back, off to Paulinho he still had a bit to do and he did it. Some balls, some movement from the Brazilian made it look like he could get back on track.
It was finished off 15 minutes later when another penalty was conceded. This time Townsend took the spot kick. Finished it expertly into the inside side netting, no saving that. But it was about the only half decent thing he did all night. The rest of the time he was well marshalled by his fullback. The rest was his usual shtick, though one shot actually made the ‘keeper do something. But along with Lennon on the other side there was no consistently good stuff to make them indispensable. Townsend just has to get one more goal to match lasts season’s tally.
On the other hand Sandro roamed the midfield like a beast, shutting things down left, right and centre. Picking the ball off Limassol players while leaving them crumpled on the ground. No way should they be thinking of letting him go, especially at the prices quoted.
Another whose asking price seems far too cheap is Chiriches, an excellent ball playing centre back, who can cover on the right. Now the last few seasons Spurs have required at least four centre backs and with Dawson gone and Fazio coming they have them.
At left back Davies showed that no matter Rose’s England call up it won’t be long until the Welshman is the starter.
It was like playing QPR but you have to beat what’s put in front of you and Spurs did that well. So it’s off to Turkey, Serbia and Greece for the group games against Besiktas, Partizan Belgrade and Asteras Tripolis. Could be worse, could be better.