Missing their talisman, and only real striker, for the first time in over a year, Spurs still managed their revenge over the team that put them out of the Europa League this time last year.
It was a different Spurs from the one that meekly exited the Europa League at the round of 32 against Fiorentina in Pochettino’s first season. More confident in putting away the team third in the Italian league with an impressive three nil victory.
Missing a decent part of the team’s spine with Dembele joining the missing Harry Kane and the long term absentee Vertonghen the understudies stood up an were counted. Who says there isn’t a squad there.
Wimmer has fitted in quite nicely since Jan’s injury, helps having Toby in there, which has enable the manager to stick with playing Dier as the holding midfielder. While not in the same league as Dembele the return of Mason from his injuries is timely. As was the return of Hugo and Lamela.
As timely as the run Mason made to get onto the end of the ball from Dele Alli to open the scoring, just before the half hour. Davies’ forward ball was missed by Chadli – who I’d forgotten was actually playing he was seen so infrequently early on – Alli hustled for the ball and while being fouled managed to play it on as Mason had surged forward. Mason took a good first touch and then opened his body to put the ball in at the far post, it was very much reminiscent of the way Kane has taken a number of goals.
A nice settler but still needed more or to keep that clean sheet. Well another would just make things that little less nervy. It came just after the hour.
Pressing at a throw, Dier and then Mason played their part before the ball was moved onto Eriksen and then Chadli. The latter’s shot was saved back into the danger area where Alli couldn’t get onto it, leaving Lamela and Eriksen converging to a point where they looked like they’d get in each other’s road and bugger it all up. But Lamela, who running away from goal compared to Eriksen facing goal looked worst placed to take a shot, turned and fired it in to open up a two goal gap. A little bit of breathing space.
The clincher came ten minutes before full-time, when a cracking cross from Trippier was put in his own net by the visiting captain. It really was a superb cross by the fullback, who may have not had his bets night defensively but was certainly no worse than Walker would have been while providing such ammunition going forward that Walker promised but doesn’t deliver.
Alli was just behind Rodríguez as he made it three, ready to take a chance, still chasing and hustling even though minutes earlier he received the most ridiculous yellow card that’ll see him miss the first leg of the next round. It looked as if UEFA had instructed the ref to make sure Alli was suspended after he got away with a red in the first leg, as he was booked for diving, when blocked and pushed over by Rodríguez. Utterly, utterly ridiculous decision.
And that next game he misses will be the away leg against Borussia Dortmund. One of the toughest draws in the round of 16. A victory against the free scoring German outfit though would give a team high on confidence even more to go on and do something this season.
This was a convincing victory against a good Italian side, goals scored without Kane and a clean sheet kept, getting back into winning ways after the FA Cup loss and so onto the league and a must needed win against Swansea…