For the second game running Spurs struggled to overcome a team they dominate, Shkendija, to get through to the next round of the Europa League.
Well, you always think when Spurs have an early goal chalked off that it would have made the difference to how they would perform. An early goal and it would be a bit easier, this game proved that wrong.
One nil up after 5 minutes, it was a real struggle for over an hour after. It’s not like they didn’t have chances, they had plenty but the old failings in finishing off teams they dominate was in evidence.
It should have meant that Harry Kane got a full week off, not starting here and the earlier game against Orient in the League Cup being cancelled, but no he was required, when the fixture list is a pile up and he tends to feature in every game, if not play for most of all of them.
That opener came from Erik Lamela. It started from the back then out on the left with Davies, his ball inside was flicked on by Bergwijn to Son, he dribble past a Shkendija before passing out to Lamela who was all on his lonesome just outside the D, one touch and the rarest of rare things… a right footed shot.
Someone asked on Twitter, after what followed, why Jose was berating Dele and not the likes of Davies, Aurier and Winks who had been far more wasteful than him. Well, maybe, hopefully, Jose sees Dele with a future at the club despite the wild speculations surrounding him, while the other three might not be worth the effort. I mean they’re ready to sell Aurier, Davies has a couple of new players ahead of him now and Winks. Well, maybe Jose has finally realised that his first impression of Winks as seen on “All or Nothing” – sideways, sideways, nothing – was right and he hasn’t actually improved while the Portuguese has been in charge. Hopefully starting him means he won’t feature at the weekend and bringing him off means he won’t feature much from now on.
Dele was working. Working hard. there certainly wasn’t any lazy play from him in this game. It just didn’t go for him. He had a good chance to double the lead but fluffed it and when Harry Kane entered the fray, it was in place of Dele. Dele’s link up with Harry has been the key previously.
It was all Spurs then come the 55th minute it was classic Spurs. They defence parted and the Shkendija player banged the ball past the debutant, Hart, in goal. They were overjoyed.
With that the changes were coming Harry for Dele and Lo Celso for Winks. The latter was needed, the former I might have gone with Bergwijn, let Dele get some game time with Harry.
More chances were coming and going. a lovely ball through the channel by Ndombele saw a cross from Aurier being headed wide by Lamela, who should have done a lot better. Then again from an Aurier cross Kane didn’t get enough on his header, so it went wide, when he should have done better.
The winner came on the 70th minute. A good ball through into the box from Lo Celso, was probably fr Aurier but Moura who had replaced Bergwijn, his shot was saved by the keeper out to Son, who took one touch to control the bouncing ball, before banging it in the roof of the net. Yet another important goal from Son. How many opening goals, equalisers, go ahead and winning goals does he get?
Relief of the third came a few minutes later, when Son put the perfect cross from the left right on Harry’s head, he really didn’t have to move, for him to hit the target this time. That was it, game over.
Harry Kane. Spurs shouldn’t have needed him but thank god they have him.
So it’s, finally,, a home game next week against Maccabi Haifa in the play-off round, as the games keep on coming, though that Orient League Cup game as been forfeited and Spurs get a bye into the next round, against Chelsea.