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Lokomotiv Plovdiv v Spurs, 17.09.20

(5pm UK time)

Lokomotiv Plovdiv scorer:-
Minchev, 71

Spurs scorers:-
Kane (pen), 80
Ndombele, 85


Referee:- Harm Osmers
Assistants:- Dominik Schaal & Robert Kempter
Fourth official:- Robert Schröder


Plovdiv (3-4-1-2):- Lukov; Petrovic, Masoero, Dinas Almeida Costa; Karagaren, Vitanov (sub Mihaljevic, 81), Umarbayev (sub Minchev, 68), Tsvetanov; Salinas; Aralica (sub Ilic, 68), Iliev (Capt.)

Subs not used:- Pirgov (GK); Nikolaev, Muslimovic, Pugliese

Booked:- Karagaren (foul on Lo Celso), Dinis Almeida Costa (Time wasting), Masoero

Sent off:- Dinas Almeida Costa (handball on goal-line, 78), Karagaren (second yellow card for unsporting conduct – interfering with penalty spot, 79)

Spurs (4-2-1-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Doherty, Sanchez (sub Lucas Moura, 73), Dier, Davies; Sissoko (sub Ndombele, 61), Hojbjerg; Lo Celso; Bergwijn (sub Lamela, 70), Kane, Son

Subs not used:- Hart; Carter-Vickers (no. 38), Sessegnon; Winks

No bookings

The Premier Sports broadcast was a shambles, and so were Spurs – nearly!

Until earlier this week, it looked likely that this one-legged second qualifying round Europa League game would not be televised. However Spurs plugged the fact that Premier Sports (previously broadcasters for pre-season ICC games) would be showing the game and any subsequent qualifiers at a discounted price. Subscribers will be desperately seeking refunds as this attempt to televise the game turned into a shambles, with broken or distorted signals before a total breakdown in each half. Thus the key action of three goals and two sendings-off was missed and apologies were made. The responsibility fell to the host broadcasters, whose uplink was inoperative.

Spurs nearly had to make an apology too for another below par performance until they equalised with a penalty (which led to not one but two sendings-off for the home side) and a winner five minutes from time by substitute Tanguy Ndombele, upon whom the focus fell in the last of this week’s “All or Nothing” Amazon documentary programmes. The result means we now face a trip to Macedonia to play Shkendija, who beat Botosani of Romania 1-0. Let’s hope their uplink and Spurs’ form is better next Thursday!

The match was of course behind closed doors, but a vociferous band of home supports could be heard just outside the stadium throughout proceedings. They even had fireworks early in the second half, and that was well before any explosive action on the pitch. I suspect Bulgaria does not impose the “Rule of Six” that we in the UK are suffering at present in an effort to prevent a second wave of the Coronavirus here.

It was a warm night with fine conditions. The pitch was not as smooth as most premier League pitches. As anticipated, Jose Mourinho fielded a strong line-up. The manager admitted this was because of the one legged nature of the tie.

Spurs kicked off, but they were soon defending a free kick from which they broke forward with the ball ending at the feet of Son towards the left of the area. He hit a shot on target but it was saved by the foot of goalkeeper Lukov. Giovani Lo Celso was playing behind the front three and constantly getting into advanced positions. Harry Kane hit a pass to Son, who fed it backwards to Bergwijn, but play was stopped as Son had been called offside.

"Sonny" laid on a ball to Lo Celso to his left. Gio passed pack to the right where Steven Bergwijn’s 20 yard shot hit the bar. Aralica had a shot from distance at the other end but this was well over the target. Spurs were generally pressing whilst their opponents retreated and formed that well-known dome-like defence which is so often hard to penetrate. Spurs certainly found this to be the case, but did themselves no favours at times with dodgy passes. I have to say that I have been less than impressed with Hojbjerg in his first two games, and I never saw Matt Doherty pass so badly for Wolves as he did in one second half move.

After 27 minutes, Bergwijn was clearly tripped inside the Plovdiv area, but there was no VAR and German referee Harm Osmers’ decision could not be changed, alth9ugh it was queried by Spurs players and their manager.

Harry Kane tried a shot from 25 yards but was just wide. A free kick taken by Eric Dier from 25 yards was blocked by the wall. Son had been taking early corners, but Lo Celso took over and when he swung one in after 36 minutes harry Kane’s header fell to Doherty, who was blocked, and offside anyway. Now we lost the picture and I understand Kane’s near post effort was blocked when receiving from Son. A one-two move between Sissoko and Son was also blocked off, and Ben Davies missed a close range header in added time.

Early in the second half Bergwijn back-heeled a Sissoko ball to Doherty on the right, who won a corner with his cross. Karagaren got his first booking for a foul on Lo Celso. After a rare attack by the home side, Spurs broke forward with Lo Celso leading through the middle. His forward pass to Son was pushed back to Ben Davies who hit a ball across the goalmouth. This may been intended as either a shot or a pass, but it failed anyway.

A cross by Sissoko was fed by Lo Celso to Kane, whose shot was comfortably held by the keeper. Sissoko was replaced by Ndombele before Kane was blocked off by two defenders inside the area as he tried to reach Lo Celso’s pass. Ndombele was fouled on the edge of the area and Kane’s free kick was deflected over the target.

Now we lost the picture again, and missed the most important action. It appears Dinis Almeida was booked in an incident long before his sending-off offence. Lo Celso curled a shot wide from a Doherty cross but the home side stunned Spurs with a 71st minute goal. This followed a corner taken by Salinas which was flicked on to the back post where substitute Minchev headed home.

Jose had to go for broke and he brought on another attacker – Lucas Moura – for Davinson Sanchez. Lloris had to make a very good save from Karagaren’s shot. I think it was a header by Ben Davies which was goal-bond and was only saved by the illegal hand of Dinis Almeida Costa, who was shown a straight red card. Meanwhile Karagaren was interfering with the penalty spot, and he got a second yellow. Harry Kane made no mistake from the penalty spot, and Spurs had ten minutes to get a winner against nine men. That came from Ndombele who turned in Lucas Moura’s cross.

TV pictures were restored just in time for the last two minutes and the final whistle. TV Broadcasts were more efficient in the days of the BBC’s Light programme! (That’s one for the oldies there)

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