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Wolfsberger AC v Spurs, 18.02.21

EUROPA LEAGUE ROUND OF 32 (1st leg)
THURSDAY 18TH FEBRUARY, 2021
(5.55pm – GMT)
(At Puskás Aréna, Budapest)
WOLFSBERGER AC 1(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(3)

Wolfsberger scorer:-
Liendl (pen), 55

Spurs scorers:-
Son, 13
Bale, 28
Lucas Moura, 34
Vinicius, 88

Attendance:- 0

Referee:- Ali Palabiyik
Assistants:- Ceyhun Sesigüzel & Serkan Olguncan
Fourth official:- Alper Ulusoy
VAR:- Abdulkadir Bitigen
Assistant VAR:- Mete Kalkavan
(All officials from Turkey)

Teams:-
Wolfsberger (4-1-3-2):- Kofler; Novak (sub Pavelic, 81), Baumgartner, Lochoshvili, Scherzer; Sprangler (sub Giorbelidze, 65); Taferner (sub Henriksson, 46), Liendl (Capt.), Wernitznig; Joveljic (sub Dieng, 65), Vizinger (sub Stratznig, 46)

Subs not used:- Skubi (GK), Kuttin (GK); Peric, Rnic; Leitgeb, Rocher, Schofl

Booked:- Sprangler (foul on Lucas Moura)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Doherty, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Sissoko (sub Hojbjerg, 78), Winks; Bale (sub Lamela, 64), Dele (sub Ndombele, 78), Lucas Moura (sub Bergwijn, 65); Son (sub Vinicius, 46)

Subs not used:- Hart (GK), Whiteman (GK); Sanchez, Tanganga, Lavinier; Bowden; Scarlett

Booked:- Dele (foul on Baumgartner) , Sissoko (foul on Wernitznig), Hojbjerg (foul)

Nice cushion, but this was not cushy!

Before this game, anyone with Spurs connections would have taken your hand off for four away goals and a three-goal cushion to bring home for next week’s second leg (being played next Wednesday at 5pm). However, you wouldn't say this was a cushy win as the home side (also playing away in Budapest of course) hit the woodwork twice, and were allowed a footing in the game with a penalty needlessly conceded early in the second half by the hapless Sissoko. However, let's accentuate the positive regarding the win, although Jose never felt comfortable enough to give any of the youngsters he took to Hungary an outing.

Harry Kane obviously had not travelled and we must hope he is being protected for Sunday lunchtime’s clash away to West Ham. Serge Aurier, Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso were known not to have travelled. With a 12-man bench (boys in three cases) Jose still had plenty of choice and there had been suggestions before the game that both Dele Alli and Gareth Bale would be given chances to prove their worth and perhaps challenge the usual first picks. So it proved, and Gareth Bale capped his 64 minutes with a neat goal that offered shades of the “old Bale”. Jose chose what was arguably his first choice available defence, but gave Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg a breather (not for the whole game), starting Sissoko next to Harry Winks in front of the defence. Son was in front of Bale, Dele and Lucas Moura.

Wolfsberger’s 41-year-old coach Ferdinand Feldhofer played an adventurous 4-1-3-2 formation, which whilst giving the Spurs defence some shaky moments, offered space and opportunities in their own half. Spurs played a in a yellow strip. Wolfsberger’s predominant shirt colour is white. The “home” side kicked off and within four minutes offered a threat when Taferner crossed from the right across the defence with Wernitznig in space, but unable to keep the ball in play. Spurs responded with a ball to Son who advanced and reached the right side of thee area before moving left and hitting a left foot shot wide. Dele Alli was not happy further to his left, but “Sonny’s” choice to shoot was understandable.

Toby Alderweireld hit a good long ball forward after 11 minutes to Son who got into the right side of the box. He passed to Dele, but the defence cleared. Very soon thought Spurs had the lead and this followed another Alderweireld pass. This one was collected by dele who passed inside to Lucas Moura. Lucas ran left to right across the outside of the area and fed the ball to Doherty. Bale timed his run well, receiving the forward pass before cutting it back to the middle where Son directed a nice header through a defender’s legs and into the net to the right of goalkeeper Kofler. It was only Son’s second goal in 10 games.

Lucas Moura pulled a shot wide on the other wide of goal after Dele slipped him a pass. Good play near the bye-line on the left of the area after 19 minutes gave dele a chance to shoot across the keeper who got a vital touch to save the shot. It was a corner though, but Eric Dier headed over when he should have scored. At the other end, good play by Wolfsberger’s top league scorer Joveljic inside the area gave the 21-year-old striker a chance which Lloris held.

A cross from deep on the right by Bae was plucked out of the air by Kofler, but Bale was on the score-sheet three minutes later. This was a lovely goal started by dele with lovely play in midfield before a cross-field pass to Doherty who advanced and fed the ball again to Bale. Gareth ran towards the bye-line before cutting back and hitting an unstoppable shot across the keeper hitting the net inside the right post.

The Austrian team nearly responded in the best possible fashion when Novak crossed from the right and Vizinger’s header was very well saved by Lloris who, with his right hand, managed the push the ball up and out of play off the bar. Harry Winks had a right foot shot at the other end from 22 yards, but this went straight to the keeper. Winks gets the assist for his pass to Lucas Moura just inside the Wolfsberger half, after which Lucas went on a slalom run with only one intention. That intention was fulfilled with his 34th minute goal, scored with his right foot without its intended power, but with good placement to the right of the keeper.

I was having thoughts that perhaps one or more of our youngster would get some exposure in the second half. However, Spurs were given something to think about when Lloris was down to his right to save from skipper Liendl after Vizinger’s pass. Then, as we entered added time, Sissoko committed a needless foul just outside the area on Joveljic. Thankfully, Wernitznig’s free kick passed over the goal.

Feldhofer made two changes after the interval with Henriksson replacing Taferner and 18-year-old Kai Stratznig taking over from Vizinger. Heung-min Son, who Jose needs to be fresh on Sunday, was replaced by Carlos Vinicius, who took until the last five minutes to have an impact, truth be told. After good play by Lucas and Dele, Gareth Bale hit a shot which Kofler saved to his left.

Wernitznig hit a shot over at the other end after Baumgartner’s pass, before Moussa Sissoko had a dumb moment, fouling Wernitznig inside the Spurs area, getting a yellow card for his trouble. Liendl sent Lloris the wrong way and coolly slotted the penalty inside Hugo’s right post. That three-goal cushion had gone and we entered a period of uncertainty and worry as Spurs started to fall backwards whilst Wolfsberger looked more solid.

Lucas Moura was fouled just outside the box on the left, and took the kick himself, putting the ball over the bar. A Wolfsberger corner was held by Lloris and quickly cleared long towards Bale. Kofler was out of his area and nearly made a hash of thing but managed to recover and clear the ball. Wolfsberger had a free kick 25 yards out which Spurs eventually managed to clear with Lucas Moira getting fouled in our final third to ease the danger.

Now Bale and Lucas Moura were replaced by Lamela and Bergwijn. Wolfsberger made two more changes too. The Austrian team advanced down the left side before Liendl fed the ball to Wernitznig, whose shot beat Lloris, but rebounded down off the underside of the bar in front of the goal line and away from danger. Vinicius chased a ball inside the area almost to the bye-line and passed it back to Dele, who fed it to Bergwijn, whose shot was saved. Dele could not quite gain full control over a long ball by Toby Alderweireld. A Lamela shot was heavily blocked and looped to Dele’s feet. Dele tried to score to the left of the keeper, but Kofler had read the shot and made the save.

Liendl had a shot blocked before Winks hit a good right foot pass long to Bergwijn down the left channel. Bergwijn passed inside to Lamela, whose shot was well blocked. Sissoko and Dele made way for Hojbjerg and Ndombele. It seemed clear that Ndombele had been fouled as he advanced upon the Wolfsberg area, but Turkish referee Ali Palabiyik was not interested. In fairness our opponent had been similarly aggrieved just before this inside, but that was also in their final third. Bergwijn went down a little later inside the box, but got nothing either.

Vinicius did make a nice lay-off for Ndombele who hit a shot over after 85 minutes. Three minutes later Carlos had his seventh goal of the season (four in Europe) after Hojbjerg chipped a short ball from the right of the area, which Lamela headed into the path of the Brazilian who prodded the ball into the net with an outstretched leg.

It was a great scoreline for us with worrying moments, but we do seem to have booked our place in the last 16.

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