SATURDAY 13TH APRIL, 2019
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(2) HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 0(0)
Lucas Moura 27, 87, 90 (+3)
Referee:- Lee Mason
Assistants:- Harry Lennard, Andy Halliday
Fourth official:- Paul Tierney
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Foyth, Sanchez, Vertonghen (sub Rose, 85); Walker-Peters, Sissoko (sub Skipp, 74), Wanyama, Davies; Lucas Moura, Eriksen; Llorente (sub Son, 87)
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Trippier, Alderweireld; Marsh
Booked:- Foyth (foul on Kongolo), Vertonghen (foul on Stankovic)
Huddersfield (5-4-1):- Hamer; Hadergjonaj, Schindler (Capt.), Stankovic (sub Mooy, 82), Kongolo, Durm (sub Mounie, 69) ; Kachunga, Hogg, Bacuna (sub Williams (90+4), Lowe; Grant
Subs not used:- Coleman; Smith, Zanka; Pritchard
Booked:- Lowe (foul on Walker-Peters), Bacuna (foul on Sissoko)
Moura! Moura! Moura!
I make no apologies for repeating a headline I used earlier in the season when Lucas Moura scored two of our three goals in a 3-0 win at Old Trafford last August. The headline seems more appropriate this time, not only be cause this was Lucas’s first hat-trick in European football, but it was also Spurs’ first Premier League hat-trick of the season. Harry Kane, who scored that other goal at Old Trafford was, of course, absent today. The only other hat-trick scored by a Spurs player this season (in which have now scored 94 goals in all competitions) was by Fernando Llorente – against Tranmere in that 7-0 FA Cup victory. Llorente also started today (but did not score) and even Son Heung-min was left on the bench until the dying minutes of the game.
Dele Alli (who suffered a fracture in his hand in the Manchester City game in midweek) was absent, and we must hope he is going to play next Wednesday in that Champions League decider. Today has been an excellent day for Spurs and their manager, as they achieved a comfortable win, and also rested several players who will need to play significant parts at the Etihad. Mauricio Pochettino went for three at the back today with Foyth, Sanchez and Vertonghen in a line. Trippier and Alderweireld played no part in the game, and Danny Rose also made a late appearance from the bench. Kyle Walker-Peters played very nicely at right wing-back, and Sissoko (who had his usual powerhouse performance) was partnered by Victor Wanyama, who opened the scoring for Spurs with a fine goal.
It was no surprise that relegated Huddersfield played a 5-4-1 formation, but it was perhaps a surprise that manager Jan Siewert had four or five players on the bench (Mooy, Mounie, Pritchard, Smith and Zanka) who you might have expected to see in the starting line-up. The manager has said that he will rotate his squad and assess his players for next season in the Championship.
It was a good crowd, but not quite a full house with over 58,000 recorded as attendees. I didn’t spot many empty seats, and perhaps the club has not managed to sell all their Premier seats as yet. The home crowd was in good voice in the early phases, but Huddersfield fans could be heard more than the City fans were midweek. This was partly because the home noise faded somewhat. I also noticed that the High Road did not seem so busy and there is no doubt that more fans are getting into the stadium early than in the past. That must suit the club’s coffers very nicely, especially as a good number stayed after today’s game too!
The weather was fair, but really quite cold for the time of year. Spurs kicked off playing towards the North Stand. Within a minute, Llorente slipped a nice short ball to Lucas Moura, who was fouled giving Eriksen a free kick opportunity. Eriksen hit the kick straight into the wall. Whilst our ace playmaker did have some very nice touches (including at least one assist), I did feel he was somewhat lackadaisical at times. It was a while before Spurs conjured up another attack of note, and this was a break from their own half. Eriksen passed forward to Llorente who fed the ball to Wanyama on his left. Victor was urged by the crowd to “S H O O T !”, and did but his low driven shot was outside the goalkeeper’s right post. Shortly after this a cross by Davies from the left was headed back into the middle by Kyle Walker-Peters in a good advanced position towards Llorente, but the ball was not quite right for Fernando, who in turn headed wide.
Spurs had been comfortable without stretching themselves, and when it came the first goal was deserved and very much in line with the run of play. Llorente fielded a ball from the left and held the ball up, teeing it up nicely for Wanyama inside the left side of the area. Victor jinked like an able striker and finished very cutely around goalkeeper Ben Hamer. He saluted the crowd in his celebration. It was Victor’s first club goal since his rocket at Anfield in February last year.
Three minutes later were two up. This time Moussa Sissoko was the provider with a ball to Lucas Moura who was on the right side of the area and who beat Hamer with a low right footed shot. Lucas offered a clever touch after 35 minutes, giving Llorente a shooting opportunity, but this was blocked. After a foul on Sissoko out on the right, Eriksen floated in the free kick and Llorente headed wide across the goalmouth.
Lowe was the first name into referee Lee Mason’s book before half-time for a foul on Walker-Peters. Early in the second half, Llorente received a good through ball, from Juan Foyth and hit a right footed rising shot at an angle from the right which hit the top of the bar. Sanchez had a shot blocked and Ben Davies hit a shot wide across the Huddersfield goalmouth. Foyth was booked after the referee had allowed a Huddersfield attack to continue, but that attack came to nought.
Lucas Moura hit a right footed shot from the left side of the area, which was held by Hamer after 63 minutes. Llorente had a header go wide across the goal after meeting a cross by Davies.
Huddersfield changed their approach after 69 minutes, taking off defender Durm for striker Mounie. Lucas Moura, Eriksen and Llorente combined with Llorente’s shot being blocked and a corner resulting. In another move, Juan Foyth carried the ball forward nicely, passing to Lucas Moura, who fed it out to Walker-Peters on the left. He crossed and Davies had a shot off target. Sissoko was replaced by Oliver Skipp. Moussa received great applause, and it has to be said that his absence enabled Huddersfield to get forward more. I’ll be honest, I was not feeling totally comfortable at this stage. Mounie had a great opportunity when he was in space and received a ball from Jonathan Hogg. However, Mounie pushed his header wide of the left post and Lloris was not tested.
Grant made progress down the left channel against Foyth, bur hit his shot wide too. Huddersfield had a free kick some 30 yards out, taken by Bacuna. This was saved by Lloris, who pushed the shot onto the bar to his right and conceded a corner. Spurs made a break from the corner, through Lucas Moura. Kyle Walker-Peters showed skill and sent a lovely ball forward which was claimed by Eriksen, whose shot was half saved by Hamer, rebounded off the post, and was then cleared by the defence.
Another Huddersfield defender – Stankovic – was replaced by Aaron Mooy, who is usually such an integral part of any “Terriers” team. Spurs were starting to look a little stretched, but after the insertion of Danny Rose and on Heung-min, Spurs went three up in the 87th minute. This followed more good play by Walker-Peters with a ball to Eriksen, who gets the assist for his ball to Lucas Moura on the far side of the box. Lucas hit a sharp right footed shot which beat Hamer all ends up. The Brazilian gave us a cartwheel celebration a la Robbie Keane! In added time, he had his hat-trick goal following a nice pinpoint through ball by Son and another right footed finish into the top corner.
Spurs hold third place with Chelsea playing at Anfield tomorrow (good luck with those silences Liverpool!). Mauricio Pochettino has managed this game exceedingly well, and apart from enforce ed absences, should have his men in good form and condition for Wednesday night’s Champions League decider. I can’t wait for that!
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