As the final Europa League group game came into town, Pochettino finally gave some of the regulars a day off, while the kids ran rings around Monaco to secure top spot.
Never mind the mascots, some of Spurs players looked young enough to be Monaco captain, Toulalan, grandkids, with N’Jie, Onomah, Carroll and Wimmer getting a start. Yes Wimmer’s Alive! Wasn’t all new face as Toby logged in another 90 minutes, probably very helpful for Wimmer, rather than playing Fazio.
So the first half started like it should have done with all these kids. Fast and furious, with plenty of pressing. Taking just a couple of minutes to bear fruit. That pressing saw Davies win the ball back, onto N’Jie who played it back to the advancing fullback who cut the ball back perfectly for Lamela to open the scoring.
Too early? Well the Tweets used to come as the goals didn’t after quick, scoring, starts by Spurs but the goals came here. Just over ten minutes later and Lamela doubled the lead. Bit of heading on saw him take a shot from distance that the ‘keeper blundered. Hey, they all count.
Twenty minutes later more good pressing saw N’Jie nick the ball, onto Son, who passed on to Lamela who fired home from the edge of the area for his hat-trick.
Well the good bits of that first half were excellent. Some good pressing and interplay. The bad bits were sloppy and that carried on into the second half. Things not helped by the injury picked up by Dier that saw him depart just before the break.
This brought about the real black cloud on the night. The reappearance of Bentaleb. He pretty much summed up that second 45 minutes. Very sloppy, casual, cocky and inept. If was half the player he thinks he is…
Three incidents highlighted why he should be further away from the first team than just the bench. First a pirouette roll on the ball in front of the penalty area that he so resoundingly buggered up he missed the ball and fell over gifting away possession in a very dangerous area. Beyond pathetic.
Then on the hour when El Shaarawy lined up to shoot, well outside the box, Bentaleb closed him down and then completely pounced out of blocking it when he did shoot. A shot that curled past Lloris to cut the lead.
Then on the 80th minute he played a ball forward that you could tell in the way he went about it he thought was spectacular when in reality it was laughable in it’s ineptitude as there wasn’t a white shirt within 20 yards as it raced out of play untouched.
That’s it he can’t defend and he can’t attack, so what’s the point and what are these people watching who eulogise about him?
Luckily by then Carroll had added the fourth. There had been chances spurned, then Carroll’s persistence saw him make to the byline before rolling the ball between the ‘keeper and the post.
As said before the good bits were very good the bad were predictable. This maybe one benefit of Pochettino sticking with a core set of players, those on the fringes know they’re going to have to perform to have a chance of getting into the team. They performed.
Carroll had looked all at sea in previous Europa games, where as here he looked comfortable. Onomah looked confident and capable. N’Jie, raw and inconsistent but you see gets the way Poch wants him to play and he’ll get better under this manager. Wimmer looks better with a steadier influence next to him. If Dier is to miss any games I wonder about replacing him with the German, he can play and he can tackle and it would keep Bentaleb well away.
I didn’t get the point of bringing Dele Alli on for the last 12 minutes, why did he need to appear at all, they were comfortably ahead. It’s not like the lad needs some game time. At least for the first time in living memory Harry Kane didn’t make it onto the pitch.
So top of the group and the Champions league dropouts missed.