UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
GROUP E - MATCHDAY SIX
WEDNESDAY 7TH DECEMBER, 2016
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(2) CSKA MOSCOW 1(1)
Akinfeev (o.g.), 77
Referee:- Nicola Rizzoli
Assistants:- Elenito Di Liberatore, Ricardo Di Fiore
Additional assistants:- Luca Banti, Massimiliano Irrati
Fourth Official:- Alessandro Giallatini
(All officials from Italy)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks, Wanyama (sub Alderweireld, 68); Eriksen, Alli, Son (sub Nkoudou, 62); Kane (sub Onomah, 83)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Wimmer; Sissoko, Dembele
CSKA (4-4-1-1):- Akinfeev (Capt.); Nababkin, V. Berezutski, A. Berezutski, Schennikov; Tosic (sub Gordyushenko, 71), Natcho, Golovin (sub Chalov, 46), Milanov; Dzagoev; Traore (sub Strandberg, 79)
Subs not used:- Chepchugov; Ignashevich
Booked:- Schennikov (foul on Eriksen), V. Berezutski (foul on Alli)
Spurs win their consolation prize
After a scare in the 33rd minute, when Alan Dzagoev gave CSKA Moscow the lead with a rare attempt on goal, Spurs recovered and had the lead by half-time, finally winning well and in comfortable style. They knew going into this game that the Champions League knock-out stage was a bridge too far, but this win ensures their place in Monday lunchtime’s Europa League Round of 32 draw. The win also gave Spurs a seeded position, meaning they will play either a Europa League runner-up, or a lesser placed Champions League drop-out team. Seeding gives Spurs the advantage of being at home for the second leg in this round which is being played in February.
Plenty of Spurs ticket holders had declared their lack of interest in this game, and confirmed their disdain for a potential Europa League place and 25,000 of them were god to their word with plenty of empty seats in both upper and lower tiers. There was still a good attendance figure of 62,034, but I suspect we will only be using the lower tier of Wembley when we return for Europa League games.
Mauricio Pochettino certainly expressed his commitment to the lesser European competition by fielding a strong team with the only change from Saturday’s team Harry Winks for Mousa Dembele. Toby Alderweireld was on the bench and got the biggest cheer of the night when making his entrance with 22 minutes of the game remaining. See you at Old Trafford on Sunday then Toby!
CSKA coach Leonid Slutski had declared that this would be his last game in charge. His team was weakened by the presence of only five substitutes.
Over the course of the game the Kane-Alli partnership was working well again, with Dele back in good form at last. Christian Eriksen was again in good touch sparking plenty of opportunities for the front runners.
Alli had a half chance on 6 minutes, meeting Eriksen’s cross with a header which passed just outside the post. Three minutes later good play by Kane, rolling the ball to Son on his left, gave the South Korean a good chance on goal, which was saved by the Russian goalkeeper and captain – Akinfeev. Eric Dier needed treatment and Alderweireld got his first big cheer of the night when he warmed up down the touchline.
Harry Winks was again hardly putting a foot wrong and played an excellent pass out to Kyle Walker on the right. The ball was worked inside via Harry Kane to Eriksen, whose shot was pushed round for a corner after a defender’s interception. More good combination play by Kane and Eriksen ended with Eriksen’s low ball in from the right and Kane’s effort at the near post going just wide of the post.
After 21 minutes and another good spreading pass to Kyle Walker, both Alli and Kane were involved in a failed attempt on goal. Akinfeev then saved from Alli after an errant ball by a CSKA defender. CSKA were playing the Berezutski twins at centre-back. Vasili and Aleksei are identical, but of course were wearing different numbers! After a foul on Kane, Eriksen’s free kick was easy for the goalkeeper.
CSKA took a surprise lead, much to the delight of their sparse support. I thought there was an offside in the build-up, but there was no flag as Tosic headed the ball down to Dzagoev, who beat Lloris with a low and accurate shot.
Spurs bounced back within five minutes. Eriksen crossed from the right, and Dele latched onto the ball placing his shot well to the left of the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand and into the net at the far corner. Lloris did have to make a good save at the other end as Spurs were nearly caught out by Milanov’ s effort, with Tosic the creator again.
Spurs took a welcome lead into the interval after more good play with Danny Rose crossing for Kane to finish from close range towards the back of goal. Spurs were going to continue their European tour, with CSKA now needing two goals to prevent them making that progress.
Three minutes into the second half, Danny Rose crossed again and Son took a first time shot, but Akinfeev was positioned well. Son chased a long ball by Vertonghen, and the ball went back to Eriksen, who hit a first time pass to Kane. Kane tried a shot but the goalkeeper was its equal.
Nkoudou was Pochettino’s first substitution , replacing Son on the left flank. After 61 minutes, Eriksen pushed the ball out to Kyle Walker from the left channel. Walker crossed and Harry Kane headed over. Kane then took a free kick after Dele had been fouled with Vasili Berezutski seeing yellow for the infringement. Kane’s attempt was easy for the keeper. Nkoudou had a shot go skyward after more good combination play by Alli and Kane. Now came Alderweireld’s entrance for Victor Wanyama, allowing Dier to move forward. I suspect Eric will be getting a rest on Sunday.
Dele had a chance after Danny Rose crossed, but Dele hit his first time shot over the target. Harry Winks had been looking after the ball well throughout the game and drew a foul just outside the box. Eriksen took the free kick and Akinfeev could only parry the shot. The danger was however cleared by the CSKA defence. Alli put Kane through with a neat threaded pass, and Harry hit an early shot, again saved. Kane returned the compliment after a good ball received down the right channel. Kane passed inside to Alli, whose header was well saved by Akinfeev, but the ball unfortunately rebounded into goal off the back of the keeper’s leg. The goal was announced as Alli’s, but we all knew it was an own goal. The two goal lead was however clearly warranted.
Toby Alderweireld almost capped his return with a decent near post header from Nkoudou’s cross, but the ball passed over the bar. Harry Kane also got a bit of respite, being replaced by Josh Onomah, as Spurs comfortably saw out the game. Those empty seats became the majority as many Spurs fans joined the race for an early train home. Spurs fans even took the mickey out of themselves as they chanted “We can see you creeping out”.
The recent Wembley hoodoo has been lifted, and with key players returning and others regaining their best form, Spurs go into Sunday’s game at Old Trafford in a confident frame of mind.
UEFA Champions League - GROUP E
Pos Team P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Monaco 6 3 2 1 9-7 2 11
2. Bayer L'Kusen 6 2 4 0 8-4 4 10
3. Spurs 6 2 1 3 6-6 0 7
4. CSKA 6 0 3 3 5-11 -6 3