Spurs paid the usual price for spurning the usual amount of chances in the first leg of their round of 32 Europa League match up against Fiorentina which ended in a one all draw.
With a number of important games coming up in a short period of time it would have been more than ideal for Spurs to have finished off the Italian visitors in the first leg, thus enjoying an easier second leg away just days before the League Cup final.
It could have happened, it should have happened, Fiorentina in the first half were there for the taking, just Spurs did their standard routine of not putting away good chances presented to them while letting in a soft away goal that could spell danger.
Same old story, same old song and dance. But the performance was there in the first half. They were up for this one, unlike so many Europa outings, at ’em straight away. From the front with Soldado getting a rare start he was closing down and pressing early on and was rewarded minutes in when Paulinho’s corner floated right onto his right boot. A sweet volley found the far corner of the net through a crowded box.
By this time Chadli had already fired one gilt edged chance straight at the ‘keeper. And so it went on. Soldado himself had a good one later when an overhead bicycle kick landed straight in the ‘keeper’s arms. Though you feel the Soldado of old would have ballooned it into row Z.
While the attacking was general decent enough against this defence it just wasn’t good enough. Townsend I see this morning getting good right ups, while the commentators kept praising him, but his contribution was mainly clueless. Run Forrest run, cut in Forrest cut in, shoot over the bar Forrest shoot.
A similar situation arose when Bentaleb picked up the ball from an intercept on the edge of the Spurs’ box. As he ran forward you could see he hadn’t a clue what to do. It reminded me of the Q sketch where Spike Milligan, David Lodge, John Bluthal et al advancing to the camera saying
what are we going to do now? until he eventually, as was evident from the start, blew it.
On a side note someone has gone to the trouble of making a video highlight compilation of Bentaleb during this game, nearly five minutes of sideways, back and missed passes with this one inept gallop.
And so it came to past just after the half hour, Spurs were punished for their profligacy. Some inept defending left Soldado out near the corner flag with Joaquín, who he took down just inches from the box. Soldado obviously gets the blame while those that should have been defending the situation are absolved.
A whipped in free kick was palmed out be the scrambling Lloris off the back of a Fiorentina player to Basanta who knocks it through the legs of the gormless Walker – who is still probably looking for the ball – to equalise. That dreaded away goal.
Spurs should have had a penalty but both referee and linesman bottled it. As Vertonghen was grabbed in the box at a corner, his shirt almost pulled over his head. The ref blew for a foul to the other team even though Vertonghen, bizarrely in this day and age, didn’t touch his defender. What the ref saw nobody knows. He could have just been making it up as he went along.
Just before the half Spurs could have made things a bit easier but yet another chance went a begging. Walker actually did something right – first time ball, no time to think – with a cross, Soldado’s excellent header was saved but saved into the path of Chadli who could only knock it onto the bar.
It summed up the half perfectly but it wasn’t repeated in the second. The Fiorentina manager made the switch at the break bring Joaquín more into things. And even at the Spanish winger’s advanced years when you put anyone with any real talent up against Walker there’s only one winner. for the rest of the game the so called fullback tried to play football with his arms. His legs are only for running with.
A dispiriting half in which the visitors were very dominant without thankfully not adding to their away goal. It pretty much was a reversal of the first 45. And in a worrisome was as Spurs faded badly in the half, even with the three substitutions coming on they looked spent. The substitutions didn’t add anything really, one good run from Kane but very little else.
It was all highlighted after Lamela came on and kept cutting inside. Soldado picked the ball up deepish looked up and right for an out on the wing for a one-two, you could see he just wanted to dink it off set off and get the ball back but there was nobody there, just a wide expanse of grass.
Spurs needed to do an Everton, rack up a score, though not concede to make things that little bit easier during this run of games but then if they did that they wouldn’t be Spurs.