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Shkendija v Spurs, 24.09.20

(7pm – UK time)

Shkendija scorer:-
Nafiu, 55

Spurs scorers:-
Lamela, 5
Son, 70
Kane, 79

Attendance:- 0

Referee:- Ali Palabiyik
Assistants:- Serkan Olguncan & Çem Satman
Fourth official:- Arda Kardesler
(All officials from Turkey)

Shkendija (4-2-3-1):- Zahov; Murati, Krivak, Bejtulai (Capt.), Pavic; Totre, Dita (sub Zejnullai, 77); Nafiu (sub Ramadani, 85), Ahmedi, Doriev (sub Merdjani, 85); Ibraimi

Subs not used:- Redjepi (GK); Sadriu, Neziri; Es Sahhal

Booked:- Bejtulai (foul on Dele)

Spurs (4-2-1-3):- Hart; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld (Capt.), Davies; Winks (sub Lo Celso, 59), Ndombele; Dele (sub Kane, 60); Lamela, Son, Bergwijn (sub Lucas Moura, 66)

Subs not used:- Lloris; Doherty, Dier; Sissoko

Booked:- Winks (foul on Doriev)

Spurs' star men secure the win

Spurs’ Sunday Star men – Heung-min Son and Harry Kane – secured a win to ensure a Europa League play-off game next Thursday at home to Maccabi Haifa of Israel who beat Rostov 2-1 away tonight. Jose Mourinho made six changes to the team which started at Southampton. Joe Hart made his Spurs debut, and in the empty stadium could be heard barking out encouragement or commands to his team-mates. The manager was not always happy with his charges, but also vocal.

One of the six changes - Erik Lamela – gave Spurs a fifth minute lead. The travelling side (playing not in all white, but all yellow) dominated the early stages, and I personally wanted just a little more effort and application to “get the game won”. That didn’t happen and the home side became more adventurous until they were rewarded with a cracking goal ten minutes into the second half. That gave Spurs some worries and Jose was provoked into making a double substitution on the hour with Harry Kane and playmaker Lo Celso replacing Dele and Harry Winks.

Shkendija’s home ground is not approved by UEFA, so they play these games at the North Macedonian National Stadium in the capital Skopje. With a local airport available that probably suited Spurs, who no doubt made a quick escape back to blighty after fulfilling their press commitments. Unlike last week in Bulgaria, the television feed did not let us down.

Spurs kicked off and won an early corner from a Ben Davies cross. The opening goal arose from a probing ball by Toby Alderweireld and a pass inside by Bergwijn from the left of the area. Son continued the passing move with a ball to Lamela in space on the right side of the area. Erik hit a right-footed shot back across the keeper’s right hand.

It all looked so promising with Spurs clearly on top, looking like they were playing a front four at times, but perhaps because of that and switching of positions the players might not have known their roles precisely. Harry Winks hit several very poor passes, but Tanguy Ndombele had a decent game, and lasted the 90 minutes. Ndombele showed plenty of strength and initiative going forward, but perhaps Winks and the defence were ultimately left exposed by Spurs’ attacking intentions.

Ndombele hit a ball to Dele after 20 minutes and the spurs number 20 went down in the area, with no reaction from Turkish referee Mr Palabiyik, who tended to let a lot of potential fouls go un-punished. Having scored his goal, Lamela was one of the players often not making the best use of the ball when it came his way. Spurs’ corner number 5 was taken from the left by Son, and headed wide by Alderweireld. Bergwijn’s cross from the left ran all the way to serge Aurier who returned it to the area where Dele hit a shot which was saved.

Son had a shot deflected over after a ball by Davies, but the offside flag was up anyway. Dele made a run down the right channel and his shot was deflected wide. The corner was taken by Lamela from the right and this one was headed over by Aurier.

Early in the second half Spurs had a free kick after a foul on Ndombele, who took the kick passing inside to Dele. Dele pushed the ball to Lamela, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Zahov. Aurier hit a decent cross but neither Son or Bergwijn could take the half-chances offered. Dele tried to make contact with another Aurier cross but the defence cleared. Lamela had a clear chance from what was a good ball by Harry Winks. Lamela spurned the chance pulling his effort wide, half-thinking he was offside, but there was no flag.

Spurs got their nasty scare in the 55th minute when a cross by Doriev reached Nafiu towards the right of the Spurs area some 22 yards out. Nafiu had been afforded too much space and hit an unstoppable shot into Joe Hart’s top left corner. Hart had precious little to do, truth be told, but he did have to smother an attack just before the goal.

Son and Bergwijn advanced upon the Shkendija goal soon after that goal, but Bergwijn hit a poor shot allowing the home side to break forward. Winks fed Lamela who hit a shot from 22 yards, which was saved.

Jose made his first two changes and Lo Celso took a deeper position than usual, allowing Ndombele to continue his attacking role. Shkendija had the next chance though with top scorer Ibraimi heading over a cross from the left. Harry Kane was shoved in the back outside the area, but the referee saw no offence. Ndombele hit a good ball out to Aurier on the right and Serge hit a good cross, but Lamela headed wide.

Jose’s final change was to bring on Lucas Moura for Bergwijn. Aurier hit a left-footed cross but Harry Kane headed this wide. He too might have been anticipating an offside flag, which did not appear. Spurs regained the lead thanks to the efforts of two substitutes and Sunday’s 4-goal superstar – Heung-min Son. Lo Celso had got to an advanced position and threaded a ball to Lucas Moura whose shot could not be held by Zahov. The ball ran to son who lifted his right-footed shot into the roof of the net despite the goalkeeper and three defenders desperately trying to prevent a goal.

Jose knew the game was not quite won, and Spurs continued to attack with the home side not offering much threat in the remainder of the game. Lo Celso made a good pass from a central position for Son to his left. However Zahov beat Son to the ball. A deep corner by Son was met by Kane’s header but too easy for the goalkeeper. Shkendija did muster chance at the other end with Ahmedi firing wide.

Finally in the 79th minute, Spurs did secure the win and it was with goal number 191 for Harry Kane. After a good build-up by the team and a final pass by Davies to Son on the left, “Sonny” crossed towards the back post and harry headed home back across the goal. Five minjtes later a low cross by Son somehow passed through the area.

So, it was mission accomplished for Spurs, who next face Newcastle on Sunday afternoon at The Tottenham hotspur Stadium.

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