Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Crvena Zvezda
SPURS put their recent troubles firmly behind them by walloping Crvena Zvezda in a hugely one-sided UEFA Champions League Group B tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The North Londoners new surroundings – as wonderful as they are – have proved to be far from impregnable of late. The troubled Lilywhites have looked flat and rudderless during the opening stages of the campaign – to say N17 was troubled by their teams flagging fortunes were very much an understatement and boss, Mauricio Pochettino, realised that it could be him who paid the price as his side continued to flounder haplessly.
“No, that is football – I am not surprised,” the Argentine explained.
“The same way, people praise you. If you don’t perform as people expect it’s normal. No, I am not surprised. Football is always about to win today and what happened yesterday is gone.
The Spurs chief – perhaps himself feeling a little under siege – insisted his side faced another difficult task: “It will be tough because every single game is tough,” he added.
“In this type of period, our worst opponent are ourselves. And of course, we need to compete more with the opponent and with ourselves and try to build our confidence and of course to be solid and perform in the way that we want to perform.”
Nevertheless, you sensed Spurs were keen to put their recent past well and truly behind them – shortly before the ten-minute mark, one of their own, set the ball rolling. Skipper, Harry Kane, met Erik Lamela’s pinpoint flag-kick with a glancing header, leaving keeper, Milan Borjan, clutching thin air as the ball fizzed into the net.
Spurs had the proverbial bit between their teeth – and it was very quickly two. Lamela again the provider – this time, Heung-Min Son arrived at the far post to emphatically fire high into the net. All of a sudden, N17 seemed like a happy place again!
The overworked Borjan denied Lamela a goal of his own with a flying save to his right as well as thwarting Moussa Sissoko. Meanwhile, Rajiv van la Parra forced Paulo Gazzaniga to keep out his goalbound header at the foot of an upright, then Marko Marin somehow missed the target from close range as the Serbians looked for a foothold in the tie.
And those misses proved costly for the visitors. Sissoko broke from deep – played in Son, and the South Korean beat Borjan with a neat finish from eight-yards to all but kill the contest.
Lamela almost profited from Kane’s toil – then the Argentine fired the wrong side of a post after Son had played him in as Spurs started the second period just as they had finished the first.
But just before the hour mark, Lamela turned and fired home, left-footed, after Serge Aurier had teed him up, to claim the goal his performance richly deserved.
Gazzaniga grabbed Mateo Garcia’s effort at the second attempt – but the strike barely warmed the Spurs keepers gloves. It wasn’t long before he was once again spectating from a distance as Kane’s angled strike found the bottom corner for the home sides fifth of the evening.
A cameo appearance from Giovani Lo Celso improved the mood further amongst the Spurs faithful, who by now must have thought the past few months had just been a bad dream.
Tottenham Hotspur return to Premier League action on Sunday, October 27 when they face Liverpool at Anfield (4:30pm)
Tottenham Hotspur: Paulo Gazzaniga, Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Heung-Min Son (Eric Dier 68’), Harry Kane (Capt), Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli (Giovani Lo Celso 78’), Serge Aurier, Tanguy Ndombele, Ben Davies Subs not used: Brandon Austin (GK), Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso, Juan Foyth, Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura
Goals: Harry Kane 9’, 72’, Heung-Min Son 16’, 44’, Erik Lamela 57’
Crvena Zvezda: Milan Borjan, Milos Degenek, Milos Vulic, Marko Marin (Capt), Mateo Garcia, Tomane (Milan Pavkov 62’), Nemanja Milunovic, Milan Rodic, Marko Gobeljic, Jose Canas (Njegos Petrovic 62’), Rajiv van la Parra (Aleksa Vukanovic 82’) Subs not used: Zoran Popovic (GK), Mirko Ivanic, Srdjan Babic, Jander
Booked: Nemanja Milunovic (foul)
Referee: Marco Guida (Italy)
Assistants: Filippo Meil and Ciro Carbone (Both Italy)
Fourth Official: Maurizio Mariani (Italy)
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