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Dinamo Zagreb v Spurs, 18.03.21

ROUND OF 16 (2nd leg)
(5.55pm GMT)
(a.e.t. Score after 90 mins 2-0. Dinamo won 3-2 on aggregate)

Orsic, 62, 82, 106

Attendance:- 0

Referee:- Davide Massa
Assistants:- Filippo Meli & Stefano Alassio
Fourth official:- Michael Fabbri
VAR:- Marco Guida
Assistant VAR:- Fabio Maresca
(All officials from Italy)

Dinamo (4-3-3):- Livakovic; Ristovski (sub Stojanovic, 90), Lauritsen, Theopile-Catherine, Franjic (sub Leovac, 81); Majer (sub Gavranovic, 81), Ademi (Capt.) (sub Peric, 118), Jakic (sub Atiemwen, 75); Ivanusec, Petkovic (sub Misic, 90), Orsic
(Armband to Livakovic)

Subs not used:- Zagorac, Josipovic (GKs); Cabraja; Kastrati, Tolic, Burton

Booked:- Jakic (foul on Lucas Moura), Lauritsen (foul on Kane), Franjic (foul on Reguilon)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier (sub Bergwijn, 108), Sanchez, Dier, Davies (sub Reguilon, 91); Sissoko, Winks (sub Ndombele, 68); Lamela (sub Bale, 60), Dele (sub Lo Celso, 68), Lucas Moura (sub Vinicius, 85); Kane

Subs not used:- Hart; Doherty, Alderweireld, Tanganga, Lavinier; Scarlett

Booked:- Lamela (foul on Ademi)

Orsic – Killer Croat

The scene of one of our greatest European disasters

The temptation, of course, for a Spurs based match report, would be to choose a negative headline, such as my Tweet which read, “Trust in Spurs to (almost always) let you down”. It is fair to deride our players. After all, Jose Mourinho used 17 players, but not one of them could manage to score the one goal that was required to see us through this tie. 8 years ago in March 2013, we did manage an away goal in the San Siro which did see us through the Europa League Round of 16. Then, we lost 4-1 after a 3-0 home victory. That match went to extra time. This match went to extra time because Zagreb had drawn level in the 90 minutes. If only Spurs had put so much effort into the first 85 minutes of the game as they did in the latter stages, we would surely have got the away goal that would have counted for so much. We failed. Dinamo’s hero was Mislav Orsic, scorer of 14 league goals this season and 19 goals in all games. “Killer Orsic” scored a superb hat-trick of goals. For the third of these, scored in extra time, Orsic simply waltzed through half the Spurs team, 6 if you include goalkeeper Hugo Lloris who was beaten inside his right post.

Dinamo celebrated their win heartily, and well they might. After all, their coach had been locked up this week for a long-standing fraud case, and his assistant - Damir Krznar took over. Perhaps we should have our coach locked up. The inquest for Jose Mourinho and his team began immediately after the game. I do not propose to do any more than try to reflect the events of a night which will be long-remembered in Zagreb, whilst Spurs fans will remember for a disastrous performance and result which is likely to have implications for the future of the manager, some players and even the club as a whole. After all, Champions League, possibly even Europe will be beyond us now, and there is a massive debt surrounding our stadium, which might not be filled next season. Don’t count on the miracle of a League Cup Final win over Manchester City, because success would enable us to enter a new third tier European competition.

We knew we would be missing the suspended Hojbjerg, whose leadership would have been a blessing, but otherwise, you would have thought the team which started would be good enough not only to hold onto their two-goal lead, but to add a precious away goal. That is not how the game panned out, and after only a minute, Orsic was allowed a run and a shot from 25 yards which was held by Lloris. It was 9 minutes before we saw a Spurs attack with any potential as Lucas Moura received a long ball and passed inside to Kane. Harry threaded a ball into the area for Dele, but he completely miscued his effort on goal. Four minutes later Lucas passed to Harry towards the left of the box, but Harry’s cross passed through the danger zone, resulting in a Spurs throw on the right.

Davies lost out to Ivanusec on his left flank. The Zagreb player came inside and hit a shot which was on target, but which was well blocked. There was a little bit of pressure on the Spurs defence after a Sissoko foul and the defence managed to block a couple of Dinamo shots. Lamela was booked midway through the half, which influenced the decision to take him off after an hour. At least Lamela had been showing more interest than most.

Spurs managed a short spell of possession, but no shots on goal. Kane lost his footing in the box, and Dele committed a foul after receiving a ball from Lucas. Lamela had a shot on the turn which won a corner, taken by Lucas Moura on the left, after which Kane had a shot from the right of goal held by Livakovic.

Dinamo had a corner which they over-hit, allowing Spurs to counter through Lamela and Lucas Moura. Lucas was fouled. Dele passed to Lucas whose cross, intended for Kane, was too close to the keeper. There was danger at the other end when Ademi passed inside to Majer who hit his shot just outside Lloris’s post. Lloris then had to dive low to his right to push away a Sanchez interception following another threat by the home side. Spurs currently like to set the defensive wall for free kicks as high as possible (often outside the area) and the wall blocked a free kick after 36 minutes.

Ristovski was in pain after his challenge upon Sissoko and complained about the Spurs player, but there had been no foul. Spurs had a free kick on the right wing, taken by Lamela, but headed wide by Aurier. Kane had a shot saved by Livakovic at his right post after good work by Lamela and Lucas Moura.

Dinamo kicked off the second half and had more possession. A shot by Petkovic was well blocked by Dier. A header by Ademi after a corner was held by Lloris. You will have noticed little (if any) mention of Winks and Sissoko so far. My notes at this point read “Who’s gonna win the ball in midfield? Who’s gonna hold the ball? Who’s gonna make a decent pass?” These things just were not happening.

All the time, you have to give credit to the home side for their work rate up and down the field, and their ability to find space, to make passes, and to close down our players. It was upsetting to see our team being out-played by a team, whose league is not highly rated by UEFA, because as winners Zagreb had to try to negotiate the Champions league qualifiers.

After more pressure by the home side, Sanchez blocked a shot by Orsic, after which Petkovic thankfully put his effort way off target across the goal. Bale replaced Lamela, but it wasn’t long before Zagreb had a goal, which was truly deserved. It was a great goal, scored by Orsic with his right foot from the left corner of the area after a pass by Majer. The ball curled inside Hugo’s left post and was one which would have made Kane, Bale, or the absent (injured) Son proud. Twitchy time had begun.

After a corner from the left taken by Majer, Lauritsen got a foot to the ball, but flicked his effort over the goal. Petkovic teed up Jakic who hit a right footed shot over the goal from the edge of the area. Off went Dele and Winks for Giovani Lo Celso and Ndombele. Lo Celso, making his first appearance since December, added energy and not a little creativity to the attack. Ndombele was as anonymous as had been Winks, in my opinion.

With 20 minutes of normal time remaining Lo Celso led an attack which proceeded with Lucas advancing down the left before crossing into the area where Lo Celso turned and hit a shot which was deflected before being saved by the goalkeeper. Soon after that Davies over-hit a cross. Lucas Moura hit a shot wide to the left of goal after more good work by Lo Celso. Davies did clear a cross at the other end by Orsic after his skilful play on the other side of the Spurs area.

Orsic’s second goal came in the 82nd minute. It followed a good move with Ademi passing to substitute Atiemwen on the right who passed back into the area for Orsic to score with his right foot. The Spurs defence simply went missing, and almost stood aside for their opponents. It was a shocking moment and the momentum was with the home side.

After a deep cross by Bale, Kane had a header which was firstly saved by Livakovic, who palmed the ball to his left before one-time Cardiff man Theopile-Catherine cleared off his line. Jose’s final throw of the dice before extra time was to put on Vinicius for Lucas Moura. I hardly saw “Vinny” get a touch. In added time there was a foul on Kane by Ademi and a free kick by Bale that was well over the target. The goalkeeper then held a dangerous Kane cross.

Jose’s next change was to replace Davies with Reguilon at the start of extra time. Spurs were soon under pressure again, and because the mentality is too often to pass back rather than forward either Sanchez or Aurier under-hit one such pass from half-way, when we should have been going in the other direction. Nothing came of this error, but Spurs were lucky when (after a Reguilon error), substitute Leovac put a great chance over when he was in space inside the box.

Spurs went on the attack, but as the move broke down I saw we had six players either around or behind the half-way line. That was not very adventurous, was it? Bale tried a 25-yard shot which had the keeper worried, but passed just outside his left post. Both Bale and Reguilon were involved in a move which ended with Vinicius having a half-chance, but he was blocked.

Within a minute of the start of the second half of extra time (Spurs had kicked off), “Killer” Orsic was given the freedom of the Spurs half as he made a great run through the left channel by-passing three defenders, entering the area with another two players unable to stop him, before he scored with a right foot shot inside Lloris’s right-hand post.

I was losing count of substitutes, but Bergwijn now replaced Aurier, as Spurs tried desperately to score what would have been a(n) (away) winning goal. Bergwijn hit a right foot shot but this went wide. The shot was hit from a similar position to Orsic’s first goal, but clearly no match. Bale had an effort saved by Livakovic after Lo Celso’s pass. There was mayhem in the Zagreb box as the goalkeeper saved from Kane, who had hit a shot from the right inside the area. Vinicius also had a shot blocked.

Dier committed a silly foul just outside the Zagreb area. Ivanusec was in space as the home side attacked, but Hugo made what might have been a vital save. After that Spurs piled in with crosses from one of which Kane had a header cleared, but Spurs had shown the effort that had been required from the start of the game.

The glory belonged to Dinamo Zagreb, and deservedly so really. Our team returned home as dismal failures. Let the inquest begin.

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