not much less.
Spurs made their merry way east to Azerbaijan for the Europa League tie with Qarabag and came back with the much needed three points, no injuries and not too much exertion expended.
With the early Sunday kick-off against Chelsea coming up Pochettino’s men could have done with a few thousand mile trip to a part of the world that really isn’t in Europe.
But they also didn’t need to go into the last game of the Europa League group stage needing a result, so Poch had to pick a pretty strong team ahead of the premier League clash at the weekend. We’ll see how it pans out come Sunday afternoon, as for this competition it worked well enough.
A strange game, where the hosts showed exactly why they were unbeaten at home in the competition, where they’d only conceded one goal prior to this tie. When Spurs had the ball they dropped back, all in their own half, most on the edge of the area. The closer you got to the Qarabag goal the tighter things became.
That tightness led to numerous attempts to thread the ball through the eye of a needle, most of which didn’t come off. It wasn’t that they were well off, just a matter of inches, but inch as good as a mile and all that. There was some decent build up play at times but it could just have done with being a little quicker to happen which then would have made the precision that was missing a little harder.
Alderweireld was playing some nice long balls, one in particular to the advancing Trippier who banged in an excellent first time cross that found Alli who should have done better with his duffed shot.
There was nice little bits of interplay between Eriksen, Alli and Son but not enough of it led to real chances being created. Very little was finding Kane in a goal scoring opportunity. Their defence was just so well marshalled and smothering. Then when chances did come their ‘keeper wasn’t found wanting if he was the ball found the woodwork.
One thing that was found wanting was the set pieces. Spurs had quite a number and pretty much all of them were pretty much awful. Back post, floated, corners that were going nowhere, or taken short and quick rolled back to Lloris.
Until the 78th minute when Eriksen did what he did at the weekend and found the right head at the near post, from their Son flicked on and Kane powered his head in. A well deserved lead.
Not that the hosts didn’t have their chances, which they mainly fluffed or Hugo saved. Thankfully the one time they did have the ball in the back of the net the linesman’s flag had already gone up for offside.
All in all it was job done, qualification secured, with no injury worries going into the weekend’s clash, just the problem of not so fresh legs from important players such as Kane and the centre-back pairing. As Pochettino said a mature performance.