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Spurs v Anzhi, 12.12.13

EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP K
MATCHDAY 6
THURSDAY 12TH DECEMBER, 2013
(8.05pm)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (2) FC ANJI MAKHACHKALA 1 (1)

Spurs Scorers:-
Soldado, 7, 16, 70 (pen)
Holtby, 54

Anzhi scorer:-
Almeida Santos, 44

Attendance:- 23,101

Referee:- Mr. Stefan Johannesson
Assistants:- Mr. Mehmet Culum & Mr. D. Gustavsson
Additional assistants:- Mr. Martin Strombergsson & Mr. Andreas Ekberg
Fourth official:- Mr. Magnus Sjoblom
(All officials from Sweden)

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel (Capt.); Naughton, Capoue, Fryers, Rose (sub Fredericks, 46); Holtby, Dembele (sub Eriksen, 64); Lamela, Sigurdsson, Townsend; Soldado (sub Coulthirst, 78)

Subs not used:- Archer; Dawson; Dombaxe, Chadli

Booked:- Holtby (foul on Sobolev), Naughton (foul on Angbwa)

Anzhi (4-4-1-1):- Pomazan; Agalarov (sub Angbwa,80), Epireaunu, Almeida Santos, Grigalava; Sobolev, Razak (sub Gatagov,85), Jucilei (Capt.), Burmistrov; Maksimov; Serderov

Subs not used:- Dzhenetov; Tagirbekov, Adeleye

Booked:- Grigalava (foul on Townsend), Maksimov (foul on Townsend)

Confidence booster for Soldado (and others)

Spurs maintained their 100% record in this years's Europa League tournament with a comfortable win, which was achieved with a makeshift defence, and plenty of players such as Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Sandro and Paulinho rested ahead of Sunday's game at home to Liverpool.

I would say that Jermain Defoe was rested too, but surely Roberto Soldado has given Andre Villas-Boas food for thought with his first hat-trick for Spurs, taken in fine and assured style.

After converting the penalty that completed his hat-trick, and which put Spurs a comfortable 4-1 up, Soldado was replaced by Shaq Coulthirst, making his debut for the first team. By this time, 21 year old Ryan Fredericks had already entered the field of play as second half substitute for Danny Rose. Fredericks has previously appeared in the first team squad for a number of European trips.

Danny Rose was making his first appearance for three months, since he was injured in the first of our Group K games at home to Tromso. Danny looked fit enough, and must have a chance of playing on Sunday, with Jan Vertonghen out of action for several games at least.

That makeshift defence featured Friedel in goal, Naughton at right back, and Capoue and Fryers at cent-back, with Rose on the left. There was plenty of flair ahead of them, with Lamela starting on the right flank, and Townsend on the left, although they later switched.

Spurs played high energy and attacking football, but that did leave them exposed on occasions, the first of which came very early, with a free kick conceded on the Anzhi left flank. As the cross came in, Friedel remained rooted to his line, and was quite lucky to see his rookie defence manage to clear.

There was another scare after 3 minutes when Holtby made a mistake in the middle, mis-directing a pass which gave Maksimov a run into the left side of the box. Zeki Fryers made an excellent sliding tackle to block the ball, and Friedel managed to clear the stray ball.

Spurs had already made a foray into opposition territory, and took an early lead after Townsend was brought down just outside the box on the left. Sigurdsson took the kick, and Soldado got a glancing head touch to score with an effort that looked to me to rebound into the net off the back post. A big weight had been lifted off the Spaniard's shoulders with his first home goal in open play for Spurs.

Anzhi's goalkeeper Pomazan had to make an excellent save from Kyle Naughton's equally good right footed shot from a tight angle on the right, but Spurs went two up in the 16th minute after an excellent move started by Mousa Dembele. The Belgian had pushed a good ball out to Lamela, lurking down the right channel, and Lamela threaded a lovely ball that left at least three defenders stranded, as Soldado gleefully collected and fired home with his right foot.

Both teams had already qualified for the Round of 32, but Spurs were now looking superior, whilst Anzhi looked at times like a team that has lost its soul. The Russians are bottom of their league, without a win after 19 games and will not re-start their domestic season before they play in the next round of this competition. They look a team that any other team in the draw would relish, and one wonders how many more of their players they will lose in the January transfer window.

There was some good football and interplay between Townsend and Soldado down the left, with trickery on display from both players. This play did not lead to a chance, but after 29 minutes a Townsend chipped cross was met by Sigurdsson in the middle, who headed wide of the far post.

Another threat arose after Holtby was again caught out deep in his own half, leading to another run by Maksimov. This time it was Capoue who came to the rescue, with a superb sliding tackle.

Spurs should have gone three up after a great move from Soldado and Sigurdsson, whose final pass to Townsend was quick. The young Spurs and England winger was on his own, in acres of space, with only the keeper to beat. Andros chose to try and chip his shot to the far post, left of the keeper, but in doing so, pushed his shot wide.

Spurs paid the penalty before half-time. Friedel again looked a bit flummoxed when the first ball came in from the left, but he did tip over Jucilei's effort for a corner. From this corner, taken at the Paxton End Almeida Santos scored from close range.

When Fredericks replaced Danny Rose, he played at right back, and Naughton switched to the left. Fredericks can be proud of his debut, displaying pace and some fair defensive tenacity, getting involved in some important attacks.

Spurs had just had a handball appeal in the Anzhi area turned down by Swedish referee Mr. Johannesson, when Townsend sent in a lovely chipped pass for Holtby, who took one touch, before deftly beating the keeper with a beautifully placed shot. Holtby's celebration was a dive, no doubt inspired by another German a few years ago!

Holtby was then the recipient of a good ball by Lamela, and fed it into the path of Sigurdsson, who fired woefully over the target.

Townsend and Fredericks combined in a nice fast move down the right wing. Fredricks hit a good cross, and Soldado hit a good glancing header, which was well saved by the keeper, diving to his right.

Shortly after that, Fredericks went on another run, this time into the box, where he was felled. The referee was not giving it, but his "additional assistant" did spot the infringement and the penalty was awarded. Soldado stepped up with aplomb, and whilst the keeper did get a touch, he was still beaten to his right.

By this time Christian Eriksen had already replaced Dembele, and soon after the goal, Coulthirst got his debut in place of the loudly cheered Soldado.

Lamela had an excellent header tipped over for a corner, from another Townsend-Fredericks combination(these two have often played together at junior levels). It was Fredericks' delivery again.

Friedel made a save from Sobolev, who had been afforded too much space by Spurs. At the other end, Holtby let fly from almost 30 yards, but the goalkeeper pushed the ball over for another corner.

Friedel then had to make a great double save from Burmistrov, before Spurs dominated the closing stages. Townsend saw a free kick deflected by the wall for a corner. In added time, Eriksen gave Lamela a lovely ball on the left of goal. Erik fired across the keeper, who saved well, diving to his left.

There were a lot of empty spaces, and a lot of new (and young) faces in the ground, who can say they were well entertained. Hopefully, Spurs will make a habit of this fast tempo football, which is reaping rewards.

The draw for the Round of 32 takes place on Monday.

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