EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP J
THURSDAY 17th SEPTEMBER, 2015
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(2) QARABAG F.K. 1(1)
Son, 28, 30
Richard (pen), 7
Referee:- Adrien Jaccottet
Assistants:- Raffael Zeder & Vital Jobin
Additional assistants:- Alain Bieri & Nikolaj Hanni
Fourth official:- Johannes Vogel
(All officials from Switzerland)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose; Dier (sub Winks, 76), Carroll; Townsend (sub N'Jie, 68), Alli, Lamela; Son (sub Kane, 68)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Fazio, Davies; Onomah
Booked.- Alli (unsporting conduct)
Qarabag (4-1-4-1):- Sehic; Medvedev, Huseynov, Sadygov (Capt.),Agolli; Garayev; Ismayilov (sub El Jadeyaoui, 79), Quintana (sub Michel, 79), Richard Almeida,Taghiyev (subArmentteros, 67); Reynaldo
Subs not used:- Veliyev; Gurbanov, Yunuszada, Diniyev
Booked:- Medvedev (foul on N'Jie), Sehic (time wasted taking goal kick), Sadygov (unsporting conduct), Michel (foul on Alli)
If you can score two goals on your home debut, you'll be a Spur my Son
Heung-min Son was the hero of the hour in scoring two goals within two minutes in the first half, thus becoming Spurs' top scorer of the season so far. Son's goals were required to firstly equalise an early penalty conceded by Kieran "Tripper" Trippier, and then to give Spurs the lead
The nickname "Tripper" is inaccurate really, as Trippier, on his debut appearance body-checked Qarabag's left back Ansi Agolli, as he made a bee-line into the right side of the Spurs area. One of Qarabag's two playing Brazilians, Richard Almeida, stepped up to fire home convincingly inside Lloris's left post.
That early goal was not the only scare Spurs had, as the Azerbaijani side created a number of chances. They never severely tested Lloris, who either comfortably saved, or watched other attempts go woefully wide or over the target.
Mauricio Pochettino made six changes to the starting line-up at Sunderland on Sunday, with only Lloris, Alderweireld, Dier, Alli and Son surviving the selection process tonight. That meant debuts at last for Trippier, and Wimmer; the return of Danny Rose, and starts for Tom Carroll , Erik Lamela and Andros Townsend. Harry Kane came off the bench to replace Son, whilst Townsend and Dier were replaced by N'Jie (debut at last) and Harry Winks.
Eric Dier had gone down injured after stretching to make an important tackle, and whilst he carried on for a while. It is to be hoped that he will be fit for Sunday's game, with no natural replacement seemingly available at present.
Trippier's early faux pas meant he had some catching up to do, and I don't think we saw him at his best tonight. Likewise Kevin Wimmer, who needs time to settle into his defensive position in the team. Danny Rose was guilty of a couple of errors which could have been costly for Spurs. All in all, the score line was more convincing than Spurs looked.
The Qarabag lone striker Reynaldo (aka dos Santos Silva) was a danger all night and it was Carroll who intercepted Reynaldo's break, but with a worryingly powerful ball back to Lloris, who was able to clear.
Son received the ball on the left and tried to reach Lamela in the middle, but goalkeeper Sehic was there first. Then came the dramatic but correct award of a penalty to Qarabag, and the convincing conversion in front of the Paxton Stand.
It was a while before Spurs managed any significant attacks, and in fact Qarabag were next to come closest when Reynaldo met a cross from the left,firing at goal, but seeing his shot deflected off Alderweireld into Lloris's grateful arms.
Dier was impactive again in the middle, and hit a good ball to Son towards the right. Son was keen to shoot, and fired across the goalmouth but wide of the far post. Son and Lamela then combined from the right towards the middle. The ball was lifted over the defence to Danny Rose who had advanced but saw his effort blocked and cleared.
In the 28th minute, Townsend won and took a corner on the right hand side, swinging the ball into the 6 yards box, where Son was afforded too much space and prodded the ball home past the keeper. Two minutes later, it was 2-0, when Son passed forward to Dele Alli (already loved by the Tottenham crowd) who displayed enterprise and lovely footwork to advance towards the goal-line then cut back for Son to fire home from about 10 yards this time.
Alderweireld had a header over the bar from another corner on the right, but Spurs had some of those worrying moments as half time approached. Firstly, Danny Rose lost out to Ismayilov on the edge of the Spurs area, but luckily the midfielder fired wide. Taghiyev crossed from the left, but Reynaldo headed over, when it would have been just as easy to score.
Townsend collected a poor clearance by Sehic, and crossed the ball back for Lamela, but Eric was unable to take advantage.
I felt there had been good performances by the likes of Dier, Carroll and Alli, plus, of course, Son, but elsewhere Spurs were too often disorganised or casual in their passing.
Another mistake by Danny Rose led to Qarabag winning a corner, but nothing came of that. Rose nearly redeemed himself with a powerful cross which crossed the goalmouth, after Wimmer and Son had advanced down the left channel and fed Rose.
Lamela had a great chance and was unfortunate not to score after good work by Son and Alli. Erik's shot from inside the box on the right hit the right post and passed across the goal and was cleared. More good work by the clever Alli gave Lamela the chance to pass outside to Son, whose shot was held by the keeper.
Qarabag won another corner after Townsend lost the ball near the half-way line, allowing an advance by the visitors, who were always keen to break in numbers and put Spurs on the back foot.
Pochettino made a double substitution with Kane replacing Son, and Clinton N'Jie also getting his much-awaited debut. Kane didn't get a touch for a while, whilst N'Jie did have an early touch with a free kick. However Qarabag made one of their breaks from this situation and Quintana's effort was saved by Lloris after Agolli's pass.
Soon after this Dier went down and needed treatment, being replaced by Harry Winks a little later. Dier did have a shot on goal though, which was held. Dele Alli had provided the chance for Dier.
Lloris did have another save to make from Agolli in front of a pocket of Azerbaijani fans in the Park Lane lower South-west corner. Spurs broke out of their half through Trippier and Carroll, who found Rose on the left. He hit another powerful cross, but nobody reached the ball.
Medvedev was booked for a foul on N'Jie and Kane tried a long range free kick, but hit the ball well over the goal. Goalkeeper Sehic disobeyed orders from the additional assistant to place his goal-kick correctly and got a yellow card for his troubles.
Spurs finally secured the game with a goal by Lamela, hit from inside the box on the right, after Harry Kane had set him up. Dele Alli had also been effectively involved in the build-up. Alli himself went close in added time, but the score remained 3-1. The other teams in our group - Anderlecht and Monaco - drew 1-1 in Brussels, so it is advantage Tottenham after one game in Group J.
We will need a stronger team, I think, both in our next Europa League game away to Monaco, and next week at home to Arsenal in the Capital One Cup. First up though are Crystal Palace on Sunday lunch-time, when the regular first choice players (if fit) will return).
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