UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
4th Qualifying Round (First Leg)
DINAMO TBILISI 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 (2)
(All navy blue) (All white)
Soldado, 58, 67
Referee:- Mr. P. van Boekel
Assistants:- Mr. D. Goossens & Mr. B. van Dongen
Fourth official:- Mr. E. Janssen
(All officials from The Netherlands)
Dinamo Tbilisi (4-4-2):- Loria (Capt.); Khurtsilava, Kvaratskhelia, Gvelesiani, Kvirkvelia; Grigalashvili, Dzaria (sub Goga, 81), Merebashvili, Glisic (sub Papava, 46); Dvali, Xisco (sub Vouho, 42)
Subs not used:- Zarkua; Ustaritz, Khocholava, Seturidze
Booked:- Gvelesiani (foul on Townsend), Khurtsilava (foul on Sigurdsson)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Kaboul (Capt.), Rose; Paulinho (sub Carroll, 71), Capoue; Townsend, Dembele, Sigurdsson (sub Chadli, 61); Soldado (sub Kane, 71)
Subs not used:- Friedel; Walker, Fryers; Coulthirst
Booked:- Dembele (foul on Merebashvili), Rose (foul on Grigalashvili)
Dynamic Spurs thrash Dinamo Tbilisi!
Never mind Dinamo Tbilisi, what about dynamic Spurs? It was a fantastic night for Andre Villas-Boas’s men in Georgia, with a brilliant 5-0 thrashing secured without the services of Jan Vertonghen and Aaron Lennon, both of whom did not travel, but who are expected to be available for Sunday’s game at home to Swansea (who also had a big win at home tonight in the Europa League). Mind you, Andros Townsend, who took his opportunity to shine tonight, will be threatening Lennon’s place, after what was a great game for him, in which he sent Spurs on their way with his 12th minute goal, then created both our second and third goals for Paulinho and Soldado respectively.
Soldado had a fairly quiet night, but thanks to excellent deliveries by Townsend and substitute Nacer Chadli, he got two more goals towards what will surely be at least a 20 goal season for him at Tottenham.
Andre Villas-Boas was able to experiment a little with his midfield, with Dembele playing ahead of Paulinho and Etienne Capoue, given his full debut for the club. One of two mysteries was the award of the Captaincy to Younes Kaboul ahead of Michael Dawson, both of whom played 90 minutes. Kaboul looked as if he was getting tired late on, so perhaps he will take a back seat in favour of Vertonghen on Sunday. Is the plan for Kaboul to be our Europa League captain, or is Michael Dawson’s place under threat?
Also, Jermain Defoe did not feature on the bench, so Harry Kane got the chance to play, replacing Soldado with 20 minutes to go. Kane could and should have scored too, but headed Chadli’s excellent delivery against the post.
Capoue played the more defensive role of the two defending midfielders, which gave Paulinho licence to get forward at will, and it was pleasing to see him get off the mark tonight too. Once again, I thought Capoue was excellent, hardly putting a foot wrong. I am sure he will offer ample cover in the back four, if required.
There was a hardy band of Tottenham fans given plenty to cheer, but despite the result, the home “Ultras” were vocal throughout. The ground was not full though, with some 22,500 in the stadium.
Spurs took a little time to impose themselves, but after 6 minutes, and a Soldado win outside the area, he pushed the ball into the box, where Sigurdsson was one of two Spurs shirts waiting. No shot resulted though as Tbilisi managed to clear. Capoue fed Paulinho from behind, and the Brazilian tried a shot that went well over the bar. The Tbilisi right winger Grigalashvili was a danger all night, and forced his way into the Spurs area after 11 minutes, having got past Gylfi Sigurdsson, before hitting a shot that won his side a corner.
From the corner, both Dembele and Naughton were involved in getting the ball out from defence to the feet of Townsend who flew away down the right before taking up a central position. Andros ultimately moved to his left, before hitting fine low left footed shot past the keeper. Presumably Tbilisi had not done their homework on Townsend, who willingly passes defenders on the left or right, and has a good left and right foot for crossing, passing or shooting.
After 16 minutes, Townsend got to the bye-line down the right, and it looked as if his cross was going for a corner, but the ball was put back into play and fell to Soldado, whose right foot shot from an angle was well saved. Townsend attracted a foul by centre-back Gvelesiani, who saw yellow. Sigurdsson took the free kick, which hit the back of the side-netting on the left of goal. It was around this time that I spotted a green laser beam being direct onto the face of Michael Dawson. Such a beam was used several times later in the game, and I hope the UEFA officials will see that this matter is pursued.
Tbilisi’s striker Dvali had an excellent diving, glancing header from a cross which came from the left, which required an equally excellent save from Hugo Lloris. It is refreshing to see that Lloris will not be sitting out Europa League games this season.
Dembele and Sigurdsson had a good move through the middle and nearly offered a chance for Soldado. Capoue ventured forward and rode a tough challenge, before trying a long range shot that passed over the goal by a distance. Spurs were now in full control, and very strong in the middle, with all their midfielders having opportunities to venture forward and take the initiative. A ball from the middle gave Danny Rose a run and his low cross was saved by the keeper at the expense of a corner.
Grigalashvili had another good effort, this time from outside the box, but this too was well over the target. The home team were forced to make an early chance of one of their strikers, Xisco, with Vouho taking over. Then Spurs went two up just before the break, following a great move. Kyle Naughton sent Townsend away down the right wing. Townsend went outside his full back this time, before chipping a left footed cross onto Paulinho’s head for an easy finish and a two-goal lead. In added time, Danny Rose tried a shot following a Spurs free kick, but this was easy for the keeper.
Tbilisi made another change at the start of the second half, with Papava taking over on the left flank. Michael Dawson covered well to clear for a corner off the feet of substitute Vouho.
Paulinho and Soldado moved into the box, trying to create an opening, from which Spurs did at least win a corner. At the other end, Naughton was on hand to put out a Grigalashvili cross for a corner. A Dvali shot from the edge of the box was comfortable for Lloris.
Townsend was prominently involved again, as Spurs went 3-0 up in the 58th minute. This time, he picked up the ball just inside the Dinamo half, before taking it all the way to the line and cutting it back for an easy finish for Soldado. Nacer Chadli replaced Sigurdsson on the hour, and took up the left wing position. A nice triangular move featuring Soldado, Paulinho and Townsend ended in an attempted overhead shot by the Brazilian, which went over the bar.
Danny Rose made it 4-0 with a great goal from outside the box, after Chadli had fed him the ball. This was Rose’s first Tottenham goal since that famous Premier League debut against Arsenal in April 2010. Three minutes later, it was five, and once again Chadli was the provider, and once again the ball was on the plate for Soldado! Merebashvili had a shot held by Lloris, before Spurs made a double substitution of Carroll and Kane for Paulinho and Soldado respectively.
Townsend made another break, cutting inside to make room for a shot, which he mis-hit over the goal. Right back Khurtsilava made a strong run and got into the Spurs area, passing to Dvali whose shot was well saved by Lloris, conceding a corner. Dawson and Kaboul got into a bit of a tangle in the area ten minutes from the end, and Grigalashvili hit a right footed low shot, which was very well saved by Lloris. Then came that Harry Kane header, which rebounded off the post into the grateful goalkeeper’s arms.
That was about it, and Spurs matched their 5-0 result at the same stage of the competition two years ago, away to Hearts. 40 years ago, we hit five past Dinamo Tbilisi at home. Next week, when the Arsenal game will be on the horizon, AVB will be able to rest one or two more players, with perhaps Zeki Fryers getting 90 minutes in his feet. The draw for the Group stages of the Europa League will be on Friday 30th August. Spurs place is already secure.
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