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Spurs v Dinamo Zagreb, 11.03.21

EUROPA LEAGUE
ROUND OF 16 (First leg)
THURSDAY 11TH MARCH, 2021
(8pm)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) DINAMO ZAGREB 0(0)

Scorer:-
Kane, 25, 70

Attendance:- 0

Referee:- Serdar Gözübüyük
Assistants:- Joost van Zuilen & Johan Balder
VAR:- Pol van Boekel
Assistant VAR:- Dennis Higler
Fourth official:- Bas Nijhuis
(All officials are from The Netherlands)

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Sissoko, Ndombele (sub Hojbjerg, 72); Lamela (sub Bale, 64), Dele (sub Bergwijn, 64), Son (sub Lucas Moura, 64); Kane (sub Vinicius, 84)

Subs not used:- Hart, Whiteman; Doherty, Reguilon, Alderweireld, Tanganga; Winks

Booked:- Dier (foul on Petkovic), Sanchez (foul on Gavranovic), Hojbjerg (foul on Gavranovic) (Hojbjerg misses second leg)

Dinamo Zagreb (4-4-2):- Livakovic; Ristovski, Lauritsen, Theopile-Catherine, Leovac; Majer (sub Kastrati, 64), Jakic, Ademi (Capt.) (sub Franjic, 90), Ivanusec; Petkovic (sub Gavranovic, 78), Orsic (sub Atiemwen, 64)
(Armband to Livakovic)

Subs not used:- Zagorac, Josipovic; Cabraja, Stojanovic, Peric; Tolic, Burton, Misic

Booked:- Ademi (foul on Ndombele), Ivanusec (foul on Lucas Moura), Ristovski (Dissent)

Job half done

Harry Kane scored both our goals tonight and gave another great individual performance. One or two more goals would have been welcome, and might have been scored too, even as late as added time. The clean sheet will be precious and while there is clearly work to do, the job is half done.

Spurs were working hard in all areas in the first half, and dominated possession and had more shots on and off target. Hugo Lloris was not truly stretched. Dinamo Zagreb put in some tough tackles with Tanguy Ndombele in particular taking lots of stick on the night, but the Dutch referee was really lenient. Ndombele had a good penalty shout early in the second half, but there was no evidence of VAR even reviewing the referee's decision not to give a foul.

This was serious business with a Europa league quarter final at stake, so there was no room for any Spurs youth on the bench, although I understand that U-18 weekend hat-trick scorer Roshaun Mathurin had trained with the first team prior to this game. Jose Mourinho did make several changes most of which could be divined from Sunday’s unused and sparingly used substitutes. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura were among those who started on the bench. Serge Aurier was a welcome returnee to the team, as was Ndombele. Hojbjerg was getting a welcome rest, although he was on a yellow card which would mean a one-match European suspension if he were to be booked. Saving him till the last 20 minutes did not prevent at least three over-enthusiastic challenges one of which did get him a yellow card anyway. Dele Alli was in a similar position, but he started and did not get booked.

Dinamo kicked off and played towards the south Stand. Unconventionally they played the ball forward too, almost taking the Spurs defence by surprise! Within the first minute a poor ball inside from Spurs’ left flank by Ndombele gave Orsic a run at goal, but thankfully he hit a poor sot which was easily held by Lloris.

Son tried to find the head of Dele Alli in the middle with a cross from the left after four minutes, but his ball was just too high. There was plenty of good passing play by Spurs before a left-footed cross/shot by Harry Kane was deflected and went out for a corner. This was taken by Lamela and punched out by the goalkeeper to the feet of Ben Davies, who hit a poor shot wide. Eric Dier sent a good long ball to Dele who manged to advance into the Dinamo area, but the ball was cleared. Ndombele threaded a nice ball for Aurier whose cross passed through the danger zone without contact. Lamela tried to chip a ball for Kane, but this was too far in front of Harry.

Spurs had a corner on the right, won by Aurier and taken by Lamela again. This was half cleared to Davies who hit a better shot, but this was blocked. After more good passing by Spurs, Aurier’s deep cross was cleared by Livakovic with Lamela threatening. Zagreb had half a chance when Orsic flicked a pass to Ivanusec, who had advanced to his left, but he hit his shot well over Lloris’s goal.

Spurs went ahead with a great goal. Harry Kane was involved at the beginning and end of the move, and probably in the middle of it too! Playing deep Harry sent a long pass to Son on the left. “Sonny” passed inside to Dele who fed it to Lamela. Eric made a little run before hitting a shot with his left foot which beat the keeper, but rebounded off his left post. Harry was waiting to snap up the rebound which he did with aplomb. That was Harry’s 25th goal of the season.

Harry’s next touch was to hit a ball across the area for Aurier to head back, but the right back put the ball out of play with a wide header. At the other end, Ivanusec passed a ball from right to left to Petkovic who was in space, but his right-footed shot was comfortably held by Lloris getting down low to his left. Eric Dier had to leave the field briefly with a slight cut to his face, but was very quickly able to continue.

Both the Spurs full backs were getting forward an well involved in our attacks. Davies made a good interception on his flank, with the ball running to Kane who tried an audacious long-distance right-footed shot. This passed way off target! A cross by Son, which had been intended for Kane was punched out by Livakovic.

Spurs kicked off and unlike the Croatian side, played the ball backwards before struggling to even get it into the visitors’ half. In fact they conceded a throw in that first play. It wasn’t long though before Spurs were dominating again, although Dinamo were defending a little higher up and ultimately more solid. Lamela tried to get a shot through three defenders but was blocked and then Kane’s follow-up was deflected over the goal. An offside flag was shown anyway, presumably against Lamela. Ndombele went down in the box (he’d been going down everywhere with scant reward) under Majer’s challenge, but the referee gave no foul. There was no evidence that VAR got involved either, much to Mourinho’s disdain. Tanguy needed treatment, but carried on and soon found Son with a good pass. Son crossed deep across the area with the ball being returned by Kane for Dele, but that cross was blocked.

Ndombele was suffering more rough treatment, and at this stage still no cards were being shown to the Croatian side. Tanguy managed to make a good little run into the area, but ultimately was thwarted by three defenders.

Dinamo had a chance after 59 minutes when Ivanusec passed from the left to Petkovic inside the area on the left. The striker out his shot wide. Jose made a triple substitution with Bale, Bergwijn and Lucas Moura replacing Lamela, Son, and Dele. Very quickly Bale hit a delicious cross with the outside of his left foot to Bergwijn at the back post, but Bergwijn’s shot was saved. He should have scored. The Zagreb skipper Ademi was finally booked for a tackle on Ndombele. Ndombele was involved in the move which led to our second goal when he passed out to Aurier who quickly crossed into the area. Centre-back Kevin Theopile-Catherine made a bad error, gifting the ball inside the area to Kane, who took a couple of touches before scoring with a shot across the goal to the right of the keeper. The unfortunate Theopile-Catherine had once played for Cardiff and was in their side which lost 1-0 at home to Spurs in September 2013.

Bergwijn hit a shot too high after more rough treatment for Ndombele, who was then replaced by Hojbjerg, who proved to be a little too reckless.

I felt that the dynamic of the game changed now, with more emphasis on preserving the clean sheet than upon adding to our goals. Zagreb became more determined to try and get back into the game and desperate not to concede, and there were four cards shown in the closing period of the game.

Ben Davies was happy to put out a deep cross by Petkovic for a corner, from which Lauritsen’s downward header was cleared by Sanchez. Harry Kane was fouled and nursed his knee, so he was soon replaced by Vinicius. Harry walked off okay and wrapped an ice pack around his knee, but that was soon removed, and I am sure he will be alright for Sunday’s game against Arsenal. Gareth Bale took the free kick after the foul on Kane and hit a terrific shot which dipped late. Livakovic punched clear with both hands. Dinamo’s captain Arijan Ademi had been booked for a foul on Lamela and injured himself when fouling Lucas Moira. Ademi did have to be helped off and must be a doubt for coming games, including our second leg next week.

Spurs had a couple of good chances in the last minute of added time. Bergwijn got in behind the defence on the left and crossed low to the back post where Garth Bale just failed to score. Vinicius then had a decent run from the right flank, advancing into the box, but hit a weak shot at the keeper.

I personally feel confident we will be in the quarter-final draw next Friday March 19th.

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