Match: Thursday 28th August 2014.
Competition: Europa League play-off second leg.
Venue: White Hart Lane.
Result: Tottenham 3-0 AEL Limassol. (5-1 win on aggregate)
Tottenham GoalScorers: Kane 45′, Paulinho 49′ & Townsend (pen) 66′.
Tottenham Hotspur are through to the Europa League group stages after a fairly stress free two legged tie against AEL Limassol. We controlled the second leg from start to finish, on the ball very calm, although not put under much pressure from the Cypriot side. We were very professional and got the job done, scoring 3 goals and getting a clean sheet; that is very pleasing and now we must hope our good form continues under stiffer opposition in the Premier League on Sunday, Liverpool. Focusing on this game, we didn’t play incredibly well, but we continued to create chances, pass the ball relatively well, find the net and keep very tight at the back.
In the first half, we dominated, and early in the game we earned a penalty after good work from Paulinho who found Kyle Naughton on the right flank, who when in the box poked the ball before the goalkeeper and was taken out as the referee awarded a penalty, but the ‘keeper came off worse and a head injury forced him off; the replacement ‘keeper Pulpo came on and had to face a penalty from Harry Kane, and he came off better, saving the penalty after a poor spot-kick from Kane. After his penalty miss, Harry Kane didn’t let his head drop and continued to probe, probe and probe, and after sloppy play from Limassol, the ball fell to Paulinho who slid the ball through to Kane and he slotted the ball home in emphatic fashion. 1-0, and now the tie was surely past the Cypriot champions.
In the second half, we continued to press well, Sandro especially breaking up play and starting attacks very well from central midfield. Vlad Chiriches performed his trademark dribble from the back in the 48th minute, but lost the ball, only to win the ball back into the path of Paulinho who dropped his shoulder and finished the ball low into the corner to make it 2-0 and to get his first goal of the season. Comfortable on the ball, we continued to control the pace of the game and create chances, with the most of them falling to Harry Kane who was unable to get his second or third of the game, which will be disappointing for him. We continued to put Limassol under pressure and Kyle Naughton, who found himself in the box chipped the ball which hit a hand and another penalty was awarded, somewhat harshly but Andros Townsend stepped up and guided the kick into the bottom right hand corner, 3-0 at the 66th minute and the game dwindled from that moment on. A comfortable win.
There were quite a few stand out performers; but my man of the match was Sandro, he was very impressive in the centre of the park. His tackling was crisp and his passing simple; exactly what you need from a defensive midfielder, especially next to the more advanced Mousa Dembele and Paulinho who were also very impressive in this game. In defence, Vlad Chiriches did very well on his return from injury, he broke up play and passed the ball well; and got the assist to top it off. There are rumours of Vlad leaving, but I’m very keen on keeping him in the squad, he’s a very good squad player and could possibly become more than that in the future too. Upfront, Harry Kane did very well, swift turns, decent link up play and a solid work rate – but he’ll be disappointed with his finishing, which he does have to improve on, being only 21 though he will only continue to improve.
A very professional win, and through to the Europa League group stages. Now we look forward to the Premier League; Liverpool at White Hart Lane on Sunday 31st August. A massive game. Follow @AddictedToSpurs for it all! COYS!!
My player ratings for the team that faced AEL Limassol:
Lloris – 8
Naughton – 7.5
Kaboul – 7
Chiriches – 8.5
Davies – 8.5
Sandro – 9 – Man of the Match.
Dembele – 7.5
Paulinho – 8.5
Lennon – 7
Townsend – 7
Kane – 8.
Veljkovic – N/A
Holtby – N/A.
Match highlights from our 3-0 win over AEL Limassol:
Pochettino’s post match press conference: