UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
TUESDAY 26TH NOVEMBER, 2019
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(1) OLYMPIACOS 2(2)
Borges Semedo, 19
Referee:- Georgi Kabakov (BUL)
Assistants:- Martin Margaritov (BUL), Divan Valkov (BUL)
VAR:- Michael Fabbri (ITA)
Assistant VAR:- Davide Massa (ITA)
Fourth official:- Nikola Popov (BUL)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Gazzaniga; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose; Winks, Dier (sub Eriksen, 29); Lucas Moura (sub Sissoko, 61), Dele (sub Ndombele, 83), Son; Kane (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Whiteman; Vertonghen, Sessegnon; Lo Celso
Booked:- Alderweireld (foul on El-Arabi)
Olympiacos (4-3-3):- Sa; Elabdellaoui (Capt.), Semedo, Meriah, Tsimikas; Bouchalakis (sub Valbuena, 74), Guilherme, Camara; Podence (sub Randjelovic, 79), El-Arabi (sub Guerrero, 85), Masouras
Subs not used:- Allain; Papadopoulos, Torosidis; Benzia
Booked:- Semedo (foul on Son), Bouchalakis (foul on Dele), Tsimikas (foul on Aurier), Podence (foul on Dele)
Jose grabs the headlines. Kane grabs another record.
Like it or not, like HIM or not, our new head coach has already put his mark upon this club of ours. Jose grabbed the headlines last night for his early substitution of Eric Dier – throwing on Christian Eriksen after only 29 minutes. He also made news for his celebration of our second goal with the quick-thinking ball-boy who enabled a quick throw-in by Serge Aurier and a rapid forward move which featured Lucas Moira’s cross and Harry Kane’s first goal. Just think for a moment in which direction that throw might have gone under the previous manager. The press shadow Mourinho like hawks, and more often than not, he offers the visuals and the soundbites to keep himself to the fore.
It was not looking like a prestigious home start for Jose after a dismal first half by his team in which they were taken by storm by Olympiacos, who had everything to gain from a win and absolutely nothing to lose. Mourinho clearly needed to inspire his men at half-time, after they had been gifted a lifeline goal in the closing minutes of that time. Spurs were a different team after the break and scored three goals in front of the “White Wall”. Harry Kane grabbed yet another record with his second goal, becoming the fastest to reach 20 Champions League goals in terms of games played. Harry has played 24 games. He broke the previous record of Del Piero, who reached that mark in 26 games back in 1998.
I had been checking my calendar for Europa League dates, but once we levelled the scores the Round of 16 was within our reach, and qualification has been clearly achieved with this win.
The crowd was a little disappointing, with pockets of empty seats visible in the upper East and North Stands. Spurs fans clamour for Champions League football, but we could not fill our ground. Once again Daniel Levy needs to look at his pricing policy, I think. There was a full contingent of enthusiastic away fans, and until the second half revival by Spurs, they had been dominating with their celebratory chants.
The only change to the staring line-up was the enforced absence of Ben Davies at left back, replaced by Danny Rose. Apparently Davies was seen at the stadium on crutches and wearing a protective boot. With current medical practices this may or may not be an ominous sign. There was a late change on the bench with Alfie Whiteman stepping up to take the place of Brandon Austin as replacement goalkeeper. I was surprised that Mourinho had not freshened his side up in any other area, after the team had clearly flagged after the first hour at the London stadium on Saturday. Mourinho has apologised to his 29th minute victim Eric Dier, and presumably admitted he got his selection wrong, opting for more creativity with the insertion of Eriksen. I am not so sure that Eriksen had so much influence, but ultimately there were great performances by Serge Aurier, Dele, and of course Kane.
Olympiacos kicked off and there were early warning signs for Spurs when Podence advanced through the midfield from his own half, and shortly after that Gazzaniga could only punch clear a deflected shot from the left by Masouras. Spurs were one down within six minutes after Danny Rose hit a poor attempted clearance to the feet of El-Arabi, who advanced to his left before beating Gazzaniga with a low shot inside his right post. Spurs were stunned.
After 9 minutes Lucas Moura, operating on the inside right channel had an exchange with Dele, who tried to chip the ball back to Lucas as he advanced through the defence. Goalkeeper Jose Sa got to the ball first. Danny Rose was fouled out on the left and Harry winks floated in the free kick. Both Son and Alderweireld went for the ball at the near post and it was son’s flicked header that was saved by Sa, diving to his left for a Spurs corner. Winks hit a poor backward pass after 16 minutes which out Sanchez under pressure against Podence inside the Spurs area. Sanchez came off the better, but the visitors did have a corner. From another corner, taken on the left by Masouras, the ball was flicked into the centre of goal by Guilherme, allowing Semedo to stun Spurs and score from close range.
Lucas Moura hit a pass for Harry Kane who fired wide across the goal, but had been flagged offside anyway. Olympiacos had a free kick from wide on the left, swung in by Masouras. Gazzaniga managed to punch clear but it was not convincing defending by Spurs. Shortly after that came the dramatic early substitution with Dier hugged by his new boss as he ran off. Olympiacos centre-back Yassine Meriah picked up a Spurs clearance and tried a long range shot, but this passed Gazzaniga’s right post. Ruben Semedo, who had already drawn the ire of home fans when he made a meal of an injury in the Spurs area, was booked for a cynical foul on Son as he advanced towards the Olympiacos area. Harry Kane took this free kick, and his shot skimmed the roof of the net.
After a poor clearance by goalkeeper Jose Sa, and passes by Winks and Eriksen, “Sonny” had a chance but hit his right foot shot well over. Then came the gift of a goal that meant so much to Spurs. Aurier crossed; Meriah simply air-kicked his intended clearance, and Dele Alli was presented with a “could not miss” shot at close range.
Spurs started the second half with clear intentions. Eriksen crossed, looking for Kane, but the goalkeeper was the first this time. Lucas Moura was fouled and Eriksen took the free kick. Sanchez headed over. That equalising goal came in the 50th minute. Aurier took the throw, forward to Lucas Moura, who also crossed quickly for Harry Kane, who scored with his right foot. Jose hugged the alert ball-boy. Spurs now had one foot in the knock-out stages, as the point would be enough, but there was a long time to go yet.
Lucas Moura was replaced by Sissoko, who added solidarity to the middle which had been sacrificed with Eriksen’s insertion. There were several useful combinations between Aurier and Sissoko up and down the right hand side of the pitch. Eriksen and Dele combined down the left flank with Dele feeding Kane, whose shot was easy for Sa. Dele was fouled by Bouchalakis literally on thee edge of the area after 67 minutes. Eriksen took the kick, but it flew the wrong side of Sa’s left post. Spurs took thee lead and virtually both feet in the Round of 16 when Dele, on the left of the area, picked out Aurier on the other side. Serge hit an unstoppable shot inside Sa’s right post.
Now we were smoking! The win was wrapped up in the 77th minute. Dele was fouled out on the left. Eriksen floated in the free kick, and Harry headed in for that record-breaking 20th Champions League goal. It was also goal number 177 in club colours of course!
Dele took half a lap of honour when he was replaced by Ndombele, having to leave the pitch by the quickest route which meant he took the adulation of the fans in the South Stand, reciprocating in kind quite naturally.
The trip to Munich in two weeks’ time is a dead rubber then with first and second places decided. At the start of the week Mourinho was 5/2 to win his first three Spurs games. That looks within his, and our grasp, as Bournemouth come to town on Saturday.
Champions League Group B
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Bayern Munich 5 5 0 0 21-4 +17 15
2. Spurs 5 3 1 1 17-11 +6 10
3. Crvena zvezda 5 1 0 4 3-19 -16 3
4. Olympiacos 5 0 1 4 7-14 -7 1