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CSKA Moscow v Spurs, 27.09.16

(7.45 PM)

Son, 71

Attendance:- Est. 26,153

Referee:- Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)
Assistants:- Pau Cebrián Devís (ESP) , Roberto del Palomar (ESP)
Additional assistants:- Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP) , Carlos Gómez (ESP)
Fourth official:- Juan Yuste (ESP)

CSKA (4-2-3-1):- Akinfeev (Capt.); Fernandes, V. Berezutski (sub A. Berezutski, 46), Ignashevitch, Shennikov; Golovin, Wernbloom; Tosic (sub Natcho, 72), Eremenko, Milanov; Traore

Subs not used:- Chechugov; Nababkin; Gordyushenko; Strandberg

Booked:- Eremenko (foul on Alli)

Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Wanyama; Lamela, Alli (sub Winks, 82), Eriksen, son; Janssen (sub Nkoudou, 67)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Walker, Wimmer, Carter-Vickers; Onomah

Booked:- Wanyama (foul on Golovin)

Excellent Champions League night for Spurs!

Yet another goal for Son Heung-min (his fifth in 5 games) was enough to secure all three points for Spurs on what became an excellent Champions League night when we learnt that Monaco had got a late, late equaliser at home to Bayer Leverkusen. The Spurs win puts them into second place, one point above Leverkusen, who have drawn both their games. CSKA drop to bottom. Pochettino’s men have made up for their disappointing loss at Wembley on Matchday One.

The Spurs manager sprang one surprise with Kieran Trippier getting the nod at right back, despite the presence of (presumably) a fully fit Kyle Walker on the bench. Predictably, Erik Lamela took the vacancy created by Sissoko’s injury in Saturday’s game at Middlesbrough. The game was played in CSKA’s brand new arena which only opened earlier this month. A crowd of over 25,000 watched the game, including an ardent but small pocket of Spurs fans. The home crowd made plenty of noise most of the time, with a hard-core of bare-chested testosterone-filled males behind the home goal. Such was the domination (67% possession over the course of the game) by Spurs that at times the home fans fell relatively silent.

Another surprise was the fact that essentially, Pochettino lined up his men in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Dele Alli further forward than anticipated, and Wanyama given the holding midfield responsibility. Both Eriksen and Lamela fell back at times to assist him though.

The bag of nerves that is CSKA’s manager Leonid Slutski was only able to field 6 substitutes, and was disappointed to learn that one of his key players – midfielder Alan Dzagoev - had to miss the game with a hamstring injury. Another regular – midfielder Aleksei Ionov – was also not in the squad. Centre back Vasili Berezutski was available, after a back problem, but at half time he was replaced by his twin brother Aleksei Berezutski who also plays at centre-back. The CSKA team did include their top scorer Roman Eremenko, and up front they had the 6ft 7in figure of Lacini Traore, on loan from Monaco, and physically a handful for either Alderweireld or Vertonghen.

Pochettino had left 5 key players at home – Kane, Rose, Dier, Dembele and Sissoko – and it is hoped that at least three of those will be fit for Sunday’s game against Manchester City. The manager put his faith in a predominantly young bench, and seems to be managing those minutes very well.

The CSKA manager is known to be of a visible nervous disposition, despite a good degree of success since taking over the job from former Spurs boss Juande Ramos in 2009. Mr Slutski was to be seen rocking to and fro in his seat whenever the camera focussed upon the Russian bench.

Spurs took early control in the possession stakes, but found little penetration. It wasn’t long before the home side found their feet, mainly through the gangly and physical threat of Traore, and they won two or three early corners. Neither side was testing the opposing goalkeeper enough in the early phase of the game.

An Eriksen ball to the middle found Alli, who tried to thread a pass to Lamela, but just over-hit the ball. Toby Alderweireld had an audacious attempt on goal from distance after 9 minutes, but it was well over the target. Wanyama fed a ball to Trippier, and I noticed that the Spurs right back was able to cross with his left foot. Wanyama took an early booking for a foul on Golovin. A clever Dele Alli back-heel for Janssen beat the defence, but not the assistant’s offside flag. Janssen would be caught offside several times.

After Spurs were being forced back from an attacking position, Alli was guilty of losing the ball, giving Traore a chance to run forward at the Spurs defence. Alderweireld came to the rescue, clearing in assured fashion.

Eriksen got a good diagonal pass to Lamela just outside the box, but Erik was penalised for his challenge upon the defender. I thought that Ben Davies was playing well and linking well down the left flank with Son. One such exchange led to Davies cross which was taken by goalkeeper Akinfeev just in front of Janssen. Both teams were being captained by their goalkeepers. Alderweireld gave Eriksen a chance, but he too fired well over the bar. 25 minutes had gone and Spurs had 68% possession, but nothing to show for their domination. Another Eriksen shot went over from fully 25 yards. Lamela lifted a long ball for Son but the CSKA defence was alert to the threat.

The home side had a free kick after 27 minutes when Vertonghen fouled Traore. Tosic took the kick, and Hugo Lloris did not collect the ball cleanly, but Spurs did manage to clear the danger.

At the other end, Dele Alli got so close to an Eriksen ball. Tosic had another chance for the Russians after the ball had been crossed from the left and Jan Vertonghen’s attempted headed clearance fell short. Eremenko somehow managed to control the ball down the left touchline, racing away with it and hitting a low shot which Lloris saved at his right-hand post. Spurs came closest to scoring after 34 minutes, and an attack down the left. Eriksen made the final pass to Dele Alli, who hit the top of the bar with his shot. Eremenko also saw yellow when preventing Alli making a clean getaway from the Spurs area.

Spurs won a corner after Davies’ shot was blocked, and after the corner, Trippier crossed his to the edge of the area where Alderweireld’s header was held by the keeper. As half-time approached, Dele Alli had a header from the back of goal after Eriksen’s cross, but it was the goalkeeper’s ball. Spurs had enjoyed 70% possession over the course of the first half.

Early in the second half Trippier hit a shot (or was it a cross?) which passed just in front of Eriksen, perhaps intended for Dele. Davies won a corner, taken by Son, and met by Alli whose shot was hit into the ground and over the goal. CSKA countered and Traore crossed from the left for Tosic to hit a left footed shot which was deflected by Davies at the expense of a corner.

Son made a good forward run after some Spurs defending; exchanged passes with Lamela, then hit a good left footed shot just the wrong side of the goalkeeper’s right post. Janssen might have taken a little more time when receiving Davies’ cross, but turned the ball quickly towards goal, but wide. Soon after that Janssen might have had a legitimate penalty appeal but met no response from the referee. Vincent was then replaced by Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, who had a good game for the quarter of the game he was on the pitch. Nkoudou tracked back and defended well, even crucially on one or two occasions. His first act though was to win a corner, from which a Lamela shot was fortunately deflected out for another corner by Traore, who might have put the ball in his own net.

Spurs had just had one good attack featuring Son, Nkoudou and Lamela, which had led to an Alli chance being blocked, before they took a deserved lead. Alderweireld had pushed a ball forward to Lamela, just left of centre. Erik quickly moved the ball diagonally to his right and Son got round the defence and beat the goalkeeper (who did get a touch) with a shot that just crept over the line. Spurs had one more potent attack, when Son had a shot blocked, and Dele Alli’s diving header was also blocked. An Eriksen deep free kick from the left was cleared.

After this spell, Spurs seemed to have confidence in their ability to defend the one-goal lead. CSKA were, of course, quite desperate to get back on terms. Eremenko stung Lloris’s hands with a good right footed shot from just outside the box. Harry Winks competently replaced a tiring Dele Alli. CSKA’s Brazilian right back, Mario Fernandes, was taking more and more part in the attack, and got behind Ben Davies, but hit his attempt wide across Lloris’ s goalmouth. CSKA substitute Natcho, who had played against us for Rubin Kazan in 2011, tried from long range, but was off target. Spurs had one last effort when Nkoudou crossed and Erik Lamela fired wide. Spurs saw out the two minutes of added time comfortably. At one stage Pochettino had Josh Onomah prepared to come on, but he never got the chance.

Spurs’ next Champions League action will be return games against Bayer Leverkusen. The first game is in Germany on October 18th. That will come after an International break, when England will not be led by Sam Allardyce who parted company with his job today after a scandal leaked this morning by The Daily Telegraph.

UEFA Champions League - GROUP E

Pos   Team           P  W  D  L  F-A   GD   Pts
1.   Monaco          2  1  1  0  3-2    1    4
2.   Spurs           2  1  0  1  2-2    0    3
3.   Bayer L'Kusen   2  0  2  0  3-3    0    2
4.   CSKA            2  0  1  1  2-3   -1    1

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