Spurs needed the win in their final Europa League group game to top the group, to be seeded for the knockout stages, it looked for a long time that Antwerp would frustrate them as they did in the reverse fixture.
For long periods in the game you were feeling sorry for the few “lucky” individuals who’d managed to get tickets to the game as it wasn’t one to really grab your attention. Spurs were their usual second team disjointed self, while Antwerp weren’t at the level they showed when beating Spurs in Belgium. Ritchie de Laet the star man in that previous game, when he ran it for the hosts didn’t make it onto the pitch this time.
Even though finishing top of the group was the preferred option for both clubs it had the feeling of a deceased rubber.
For their possession Antwerp didn’t force Joe hart into a save all night as they could only muster two whole shots, neither on target.
While Spurs were getting saves out the Belgian’s Iranian keeper, they weren’t convincing, bar Lo Celso, and there was that disjoint between the front and the back. Oh look who’s there. At half-time the BT lot were banging on about Winks lifting his game, showing the aggression that Jose wants from his midfielders, saying he had done so on that performance. To highlight this they showed a tackle he made. What they didn’t pint out was it was the only tackle he made. The only one he attempted. Before bing hooked just before the hour.
That hooking was another Jose statement as it came just after Spurs had opened the scoring and involved three player, two of which were directly involved with the goal, over two subs.
It started with Moura picking up the ball just inside the Antwerp half and running straight for the Antwerp goal, before he was taken down by a player already on a yellow card, who didn’t see a second. Going by the cut of the grass Bale lined up the free-kick from about 33 yards out, his attempts haven’t quite come off since his return. This one did, up and over, going in the top corner, when the Antwerp keeper made an excellent save, but in catching the ball he was going to fall into the goal with it so immediately palmed it onto the post where it fell for Vinicius to ta it in.
And with that Vinny and Bale were gone, along with Winks, in the space of a couple of minutes. Unfortunately it sounds like Winks storming off down the tunnel wasn’t a strop. Though news that he’s pulling a Danny Rose and going off to cry about it to Daniel Levy is hopefully true. What will Spurs do without those sideways passes, goal every 51 games and assist every 77 games?
On came the big guns, Harry, Son and Ndombele. Not long after Moura made way for Sissoko – Bergwijn had replaced Reguilon at half time, so Dele was left sat on the bench with all changes used. Dele went off and people were wondering, speculating, it was another strop but he soon return… A Dier dash?
Not long after and the best setup man in the business was setting someone up for a goal again. After a number of chances had been spurned, including a gilt edge one by Harry Kane, a free header from a corner he should have at lest got on target.
A Davinson hump up into the air came down to an Antwerp player, with Son challenging he played the ball off but it was intercepted by Sissoko, who in the process knocked it on to Kane, a tap sideways to Lo Celso and the Argentinian was through on goal, a dink with the outside of his left, past the keeper and he had his well deserved goal, for his man-of-the-match performance.
Job done, that’s about it. Jose bringing on the players you want rested but maybe he has a plan, maybe those players need a run out to keep them ticking over. Thankfully, though Son looked at one point as if he’d taken a knock, it didn’t look like any of the important ones picked up an injury.
Top of the group so avoiding those dropping down from the Champions League and don’t have to bother about it until February…