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John Ellis's "third eye" report on Spurs v APOEL, 06.12.17

John Ellis is known to many Spurs fans and we have over 450 mutual friends on Facebook. I am pleased to add this "third eye" feature article written by "El Gringo". This time John offers his thoughts on our Champions League win over APOEL.

John invariably comments after every Spurs game on his Facebook page, and I usually agree with everything he writes. That applies to John's detailed eye-witness report on this game, which is published below, with kind permission:-

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 APOEL Nicosia

When the Champions League draw was made many imagined tonight would be a nail biting finale with anxious checks to see how events were unfolding in Madrid. Others perceived the match might even be a dead rubber and it was but for an entirely different reason to the way in which the group might have been imagined to have played out.

Surely nobody could have imagined Spurs would have qualified after four games, confirmed top spot after five games to render our sixth game a meaningless affair. Whether a match which generates 1.5m (c1.4m) for a victory could ever be classified as meaningless is I imagine a questionable point in the eyes of Daniel Levy!

Perversely, last season's disastrous campaign which ended with a dead rubber attracted a gate of 62,000 whereas this season's successful dead rubber attracted some 20,000 less with a crowd of 42,000 being present. It is fair to say the novelty of playing at Wembley is long gone!

As reported Spurs made numerous changes and yet still put out a strong team which started with a good tempo. Son brought a diving save, there was an almighty goalmouth melee which seemed certain to end with the ball in the net and yet somehow it didn't. A number of shots came in and corners won but it took until the 20th minute into Spurs opened the scoring and Llorente finally ended his goal drought by opening his Spurs account.

Aurier crossed from the right and Llorente with his back to goal turned, wrong footed his marker and finished tidily. It was a well taken goal but it is fair to say the marking was about as tight as a size 6 foot in a size 10 shoe.

N'Koudou was looking bright and Foyth composed on the ball. Foyth whilst being young appears to be quite a way from having the physical stature to play as a centre back in the Premier League. Spurs teams of late have been big and powerful but tonight it was noticeable how many relatively small players were in the side.

By the 37th minute, Spurs had doubled their lead. Son played a neat one two with Llorente before firing a shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the box in a style which is becoming a trademark finish of his. Even at two down the APOEL fans were not to be quelled and continued with their fine support. A clever header from Llorente gave Son another opportunity which brought a good save from the keeper.

Spurs started the second half sloppily and memories of West Ham came to mind. A free header followed by Foyth worryingly being the wrong side of his man, then Spurs lost possession cheaply and gave a free kick away in a dangerous position down the left. Finally, Spurs broke out of their slumber and a good cross from Rose should have created a second goal for Llorente but this time on the turn, he missed the ball completely.

Sissoko then won possession and ran at the defence, laid a good ball into the path of N'Koudou who brought a save from the keeper. Then from nowhere in what was a largely low key match, Rose exploded and was very lucky to stay on the pitch after shoving a player in the face. Stay on the pitch was though rather an euphemism as having received a yellow card he immediately trotted across the pitch, had his injury looked at by Pochettino and trotted off down the tunnel. Hopefully it isn't too serious as we can ill afford any more injuries in the coming weeks.

In scoring Spurs third goal on the night N'Koudou became the second player to score his first goal for the club in the one match. Dembele lost the ball at least three times in his short cameo which showed how relaxed the whole affair was as that would not normally be the case in a high octane Premier League encounter over 90 minutes.

Sterling was about to come on for Dele. Spurs won a free kick which Dele was clearly taking and so the substitution was held back. Incredibly, the ball didn't go out of play for nigh on five minutes and the wait must have seemed forever for Sterling! He eventually came on in the 88th minute and so only had five of his anticipated ten minutes run out.

So Spurs signed off with another win to end the group stage with 16 points out of 18 points. Incredibly Spurs have scored three goals per game in their three home Champions League games and yet only nine league goals in their seven Premier League games.

Let's hope that we receive a favourable draw on Monday and begin to show our Champions League form in the Premier League from Saturday onwards


Spurs Odyssey match report

El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime

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El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime - John Ellis's account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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