It’s just a week under a year ago that Spurs went out of the Europa League after losing away to Fiorentina, it was a different Spurs side that got a draw in the first leg of this tie.
While player wise it was a different Spurs that faced the Italians this year, there was some similarities as well as being very similar to the Man City game at the weekend.
Spurs had most of the ball in the first half, played the pressing game well, knocking the hosts off their game. But while they had the ball they didn’t really do much with it, one Eriksen dipper at the ‘keeper excepted – much like his shot at Hart on Sunday. The side lying third in Serie A had probably the best chance when the ball just went over Toby’s head in the box, that miss probably put the Fiorentina player off his shot, it was then played just wide of the goal.
Then much like the Citeh game, Aguero’s miss, Spurs won a surprise penalty. Surprise, in that like the league game the ref seemed somewhat one sided. Quick to blow when one of their players flopped to the ground but giving very little when Spurs players were fouled. So Davies, another run into the box and his foot his taken away for the penalty.
Like Kane against Citeh, Chadli put the spot-kick away coolly.
The main talking point of the half, well the game, though came before the opening goal. Dele Alli’s little kick out at the prone Tomovic. Who was prone after he took a tumble under no pressure whatsoever to win a foul. Yes it was naughty, yes he was very lucky that the ref gave him just a yellow card – a card that the ref handed out on advice from the home team players, which means it’s the end of the matter for UEFA. But what the ref missed was the fouls Alli had to endure throughout the game.
It was obvious from the off they were targeting him and they did so until the end. From an elbow in the throat, to some real hacking, it all went pretty much unpunished. It looked later on when Alli was slow to get up that they’d finally done him but he played on until the final whistle. Most managers might have taken him off after the kick, Poch obviously had a word but trusted him enough to keep him on.
The ref was whistle happy all night, helping to produce a stop start game with many needless fouls given, yet when Alli was foul he rarely seemed to stop play. You might think playing navigate but if none occurred he still never brought play back.
The fact is his liveliness is much needed. The midfield of Carroll and the returning Mason, wll the former played some nice passes but can’t boss a game, no surprise he was subbed at half-time for Dembele and while it’s good to have Mason back in the fold you can’t expect much after being out for so long.
Still with Mason back it’s another rung down the ladder for Bentaleb, who didn’t make the squad yet again. Whatever he has done to piss off Pochettino – acting the big time Charlie – one hopes he keeps it up.
Like at the weekend and the game last year, after all the possession Spurs dropped off. Let them get into it. Dropping deep doesn’t work for them, they’re a front foot team not one that works when the first thought is a back pass. Sloppy with possession also helped bring Fiorentina into it, like Citeh it wasn’t much of a surprise when they equalised, though they needed a bit of luck to beat Vorm.
Mason didn’t exactly put his body on the line when trying to block Bernardeschi’s shot, which looped of the Spurs captain’s foot over helpless Vorm’s head.
This time last year though it would have been curtains, they would have produced a winner, here they came close with an attempt that went as close to the post as their earlier chance but Spurs saw it out and go into the home leg with an away goal and more confidence to finish them off.