EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP J
THURSDAY 3RD DECEMBER, 2020
(5.55pm – UK)
LASK 3(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(1)
Bale (pen), 45+2
Dele, 86 (pen)
Referee:- Pawel Raczkowski
Assistants:- Radoslaw Siejka & Adam Kupsik
Fourth official:- Pawel Gil
All officials are from Poland.
LASK (3-4-3):- Schlager; Wiesinger, Holland (Capt.), Andrade; Ranftl, Madsen, Michorl, Renner; Gruber (sub Reiter, 69), Eggestein, Goiginger (sub Karamoko, 69)
Subs not used:- Gebauer; Ramsebner, Potzmann, Plojer, Cheberko; Haudum
Booked:- Michorl (handball), Andrade (handball conceding first penalty), Karamoko (foul on Hojbjerg), Wiesinger (foul on Bergwijn for penalty)
Spurs (4-2-1-3):- Hart; Doherty, Sanchez, Tanganga, Davies (Capt.); Lo Celso (sub Dier, 71), Hojbjerg; Ndombele (sub Bergwijn, 65); Bale (sub Aurier, 82), Son (sub Dele, 82), Lucas Moura (sub Sissoko, 65)
Subs not used:- Austin, Whiteman (GK); White; Winks, Clarke; Scarlett
Booked:- Lucas Moura (foul on Ranftl), Dele (foul on Karamako)
Spurs are through to the Round of 32, but it wasn’t pretty.
Spurs are through to the Europa League Round of 32 but this was not an easy game to watch. Nor was it one in which Spurs found it easy to play. In truth we didn't deserve to win as LASK scored three good goals, whilst two of our goals came from the penalty spot. The draw confirms our progress as we have a better head-to-head with LASK, who can only equal our points tally at best. Antwerp beat Ludogorets, so we have to beat the Belgians next week to win the group. Jose will be happy that he has protected several key players for Sunday's North London Derby, but I am sure he will be asking questions of some of his players tonight.
We knew before the game that we would be missing key players such as Kane, Alderweireld and Reguilon, but none of those would have been likely starters anyway. It was back-up striker Carlos Vinicius we missed most I would suggest as we had no line leader in our front three of Bale, Son and Lucas Moura. Mind you, the ball rarely reached those players in the early stages as LASK sought the win they needed to stand any chance of progress to the next phase of this competition.
I felt that Jose Mourinho’s initial team selection was a bit light defensively. Lo Celso seemed to be playing ahead of Hojbjerg who was therefore our only additional defender in front of the back four, which in itself is definitely a second choice at the moment. Ndombele showed his usual skill in spasms, but again, Spurs were spending too much time on the back foot. The temperature was minus 3 degrees and it looked like snow around some of the perimeter of the ground. Maybe the pitch was more difficult for Spurs than the home team, but maybe that’s just looking for an excuse for a pretty poor performance.
LASK were missing their captain Gernot Trauner who had been sent off in last week’s defeat to Antwerp. The home side kicked off and within 5 minutes Goiginger had a shot blocked by Sanchez just inside the area. Eggestein, LASK’s top scorer in recent games beat Joe Hart and hit his left post with a right foot shot from the edge of the box almost immediately after that shot had been blocked.
Spurs did break out of their half through Bale and Son, and they won a corner taken poorly by Lo Celso. Bale won another corner on the right with good skill shown along the bye-line. Tanganga conceded a corner at the other end with a headed clearance well outside the danger zone, after which Lo Celso broke out of the Spurs half with a fine direct run before he was blocked well short of the LASK area.
A left foot shot by Renner was beaten away by Joe Hart. A bad pass by Lucas Moura had allowed that attack by LASK. Lucas got booked for putting his arm up when challenging Ranftl for a midfield ball. Spurs at last put together a decent move at the end of which Bale crossed from the right but Lucas headed well wide of the back post. Lucas subsequently received a good ball from Son, but was well offside.
Joe Hart made an important save from Renner, advancing 8 or 9 yards off is line to save with his legs. At the other end Bale had a couple of free kicks following a foul on Lo Celso. The first was blocked unfairly by Michorl. The second was fairly blocked as was Bale’s follow-up shot. It was Michorl who gave his side the lead in the 42nd minute. Matt Doherty had collapsed deep in the LASK half and the home side moved the ball forward quickly down that right channel with Spurs struggling to cover for their man down. Michorl received the ball near the edge of the area and beat Hart with a left foot shot inside hart’s left post. The sot was a little difficult for the keeper as the ball bounced a yard or two ahead of his dive.
Luckily Spurs went in at half-time on level terms. Lucas crossed from the left and Ndombele’s shot was handled by Andrade, who was not only unfortunate to be penalised, but was also shown a yellow card. Bale sent the keeper the wrong way to score what was his 200th goal in all senior football for club and country. It was Gareth’s 57th Spurs goal.
Bearing in mind that in European competition clubs can make five substitutes on three occasions, I was surprised that Jose made no changes at the start of the half. Spurs kicked off but Joe Hart was being kept too busy for my liking, whilst not having to make any pressure save. Spurs took a 56th minute lead when Ndombele sent Son away with a good ball from halfway. Son made a bee line for goal and scored across Schlager with his right foot. That was “Sonny”’s 20th European goal for Spurs.
Lo Celso sent Bale away with a good pass. Son was breaking forward to the left of Bale. Bale had a chance to shoot and score, but chose to try and tee up Son. The ball might have taken a slight touch off a defender, but it ended up going just behind Son, who was unable to convert what should have been a goal to settle the game.
There were substitutions on both sides now as Sissoko and Bergwijn replaced Lucas Moura and Ndombele, whilst LASK’s coach Dominik Thalhammer put on two strikers – Reiter and Karamoko – for Gruber and Goiginger. Karamoko soon had a good chance, being left the space to pull the trigger from the edge of the area, but he pulled his shot wide.
Now Dier replaced Lo Celso and we switched to three at the back, allowing Davies to get forward more. Davies hit a pass to Son, but Andrade cleared this for a corner. Son took the corner which reached Hojbjerg beyond the back post where he scooped his shot well over.
I noted that at this stage Spurs seemed to be playing with more control, but there was trouble ahead. Son and Bale were replaced by Dele and Aurier, so now we had 6 defenders on the pitch plus Hojbjerg. Aurier was more of a right winger, but clearly those on the pitch did not have the correct plan in their minds. That man Eggestein received a ball on the left side of the area between Sanchez and Doherty before beating Hart with a left foot shot inside Joe’s right post. Joe should have done better with this one.
Once again Spurs were redeemed by the swift award of another penalty. This one came for a foul on Bergwijn by Wiesinger. Had there been VAR the foul might have been decreed to have commenced outside the area. A penalty was the clear decision by the Polish referee and Dele Alli stepped up to confidently beat the goalkeeper to his right. Just when we thought we had the game won, in the third minute of added time Karamoko scored with an excellent right foot shot from 22 yards out.
Jose Mourinho was not happy with the motivation of some of his players. Asked what he had learned, Mourinho said: "Nothing new, really. The fact that the Europa League group phase doesn't motivate some of the players, I knew it."
Europa League Group J
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Antwerp 5 4 0 1 8-3 5 12
2. Spurs 5 3 1 1 13-5 8 10
3. LASK 5 2 1 2 8-11 -3 7
4. Ludogorets 5 0 0 5 6-16 -10 0