December 12 2013 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Tottenham earned their third successive victory in the Europa League group stage, triumphing 2-0 away agaisnt FC Sheriff in Moldova- but how did the individual players perform?
HUGO LLORIS 6
The Frenchman was dominant in the air in the opening exchanges, taking pressure off his defenders by punching and catching some early crosses. He was then beaten twice in the first half as Henrique Luvannor went around him and Cadu fired home – but he was saved on both occasions, with Vlad Chiriches clearing Luvannor’s shot off the line and Cadu’s goal being disallowed for offside. Such let-offs proved to be a theme, with Luvannor firing over the bar and Ismail Isa twice getting through one on one but missing the target, and Spurs’ goalkeeper will be relieved that Sheriff were so wasteful. Ultimately, he did everything that could be expected of him.
KYLE NAUGHTON 4
Starting at right-back, the 24-year-old looked short of confidence on the ball and he struggled defensively against Lubannor – particularly when his opponent beat him in the air and then ran unopposed to the edge of the box before playing a reverse through ball to Cadu, who scored but saw the effort ruled out for offside. Naughton was switched to left-back when Zeki Fryers limped off, which took him out of Luvannor’s firing line, and he looked more comfortable. However, it gave Spurs the familiar problem of having the right-footed full-back playing on the left, which denied Tottenham width – and that issue was only exacerbated when Aaron Lennon was playing in front of him.
VLAD CHIRICHES 5
The Romanian scared Spurs fans and impressed them in equal measure when he cheekily chipped the ball over an onrushing forward early on – when he was the last man – and he then showed fine defensive qualities to rush behind Lloris and make a goalsaving block as Luvannor went around the goalkeeper and shot towards the empty net. He then played a useful ball over the top to send Lennon away on the right-hand side. However, like many of his colleagues, Chiriches struggled against Sheriff’s pace – particularly when he failed to cut out a through ball and allowed Isa to go through one on one with Lloris. He moved to right-back in the first half and, like Naughton before him, struggled to keep up with Luvannor, tugging him back towards the end of the first half and then being outpaced early in the second. Fortunately, when Luvannor released Cadu, he was offside.
JAN VERTONGHEN 5
The Belgian scored the opening goal, heading home from Christian Eriksen’s cross, but the back line was exposed by Sheriff’s pace on a number of occasions and he and his colleagues were fortunate to keep another clean sheet.
ZEKI FRYERS 6
The 21-year-old did the simple things well and, once again, did not look out of place. He got forward to provide width and delivered an awkward low cross which forced a corner, but unfortunately limped off injured in the 34th minute. Spurs looked less balanced after his withdrawal.
Having starred in the 2-0 victory at Villa Park on Sunday, the Brazilian was asked to guard the back four again in Moldova. He kept it simple with the ball, allowing Mousa Dembele to enjoy a more creative role. However, he was often overrun as Sheriff counter-attacked effectively and was unable to stop the hosts getting in behind the defence. A well-timed challenge in the box showed his tackling prowess though.
MOUSA DEMBELE 5
The Belgian was responsible for dictating play, and his ability to drop the shoulder and glide past his man was a valuable tool against opposition who were camped inside their own half. However, his passes sometimes went astray and, as the man who was so often on the ball, he was largely responsible for Spurs’ errant tactics in the first half. Despite being ahead, they pushed for a second goal, putting the ball at risk and leaving themselves open on the counter-attack – which played straight into Sheriff’s hands. That was compounded by the fact that, when Tottenham’s moves broke down, Dembele was often too advanced to help Sandro in front of the back four. At times Spurs seemed to be playing a 4-1-4-1 system, when Dembele should probably have been in a deeper position alongside Sandro. However, his manager did little to change that dynamic.
ERIK LAMELA 3
The £26million Argentine had disappointed on his last start against Anzhi, and unfortunately he struggled again this evening. He looks short of confidence and lightweight too, being shrugged off the ball on a few occasions. It probably did not help that he started out of position on the left flank, but there was no improvement when he switched with Aaron Lennon and moved into more familiar surroundings on the right. His night was summed up when he gathered the ball in the right side of the box, tried to come inside to get a shot off but found the path blocked – and then played a loose pass back into midfield, which was intercepted and set up a Sheriff counter-attack. He was replaced by Nacer Chadli just after the hour-mark.
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN 7
The Dane was given little very little room to work in as Sheriff sat back inside their own half, but he delivered the cross for Vertonghen’s opening goal and then put Lennon through on goal with a visionary backheel. He also fashioned a chance for Defoe with a clever scooped through ball, but the chance went begging. Like Dembele, Eriksen was sometimes guilty of trying to force the play – but he was not helped by the fact that Defoe struggled to hold the ball up ahead of him.
AARON LENNON 7
The winger looked rusty early on, particularly when he gathered the ball on the right side, danced infield and then played a sweeping square pass that was intercepted in the centre. However, he quickly grew into the game and showed good movement to stay onside, latch onto Eriksen’s flick and race through on goal, being denied by the goalkeeper’s legs. Lennon got in behind again from Chiriches’ ball over the top, but he dallied and ended up playing the ball all the way over to Lamela on the far side of the box. Andre Villas-Boas then moved him to the left-hand side – possibly in a bid to get Lamela into the game – and it backfired. Having started the game with two left-footed players (Fryers and Lamela) on the left-hand side, Spurs now had Naughton and Lennon, leaving Tottenham with a lack of natural width. Lennon moved back to the right again when Lamela was replaced by Chadli and he soon threatened again, picking the ball up in a central area, running at the defence and seeing a low – albeit rather slow – effort hit the post. All in all it was an encouraging display from a player who is returning to injury, but there is no doubt that he looks more comfortable on the right-hand side – and he will have to overcome Andros Townsend if he is to win back his favoured position in the Premier League.
JERMAIN DEFOE 4
The striker had a quiet game, struggling to get involved – or to hold the ball up when it was played into his feet. He got in behind on one occasion in the first half, latching onto Eriksen’s dinked through ball, but the striker’s control let him down and the ball bounced away off his shin. Defoe was fortunate not to be replaced in the second half – particularly as Emmanuel Adebayor could have offered a more physical option off the bench. However, he found the net in the 75th minute as his 25-yard effort deflected past the home keeper – and he has now equalled Martin Chivers’ club record of 22 European goals for Tottenham.
MICHAEL DAWSON 5
The captain entered the fray in the first half when Zeki Fryers came off injured, and he was unable to change the dynamic of the game as Sheriff broke through at pace on a number of occasions. He made an important block in front of Lloris in the latter stages – and was fortunate that the ball cannoned out for a corner rather than deflecting into the net.
NACER CHADLI 6
The Belgian gave Spurs much more balance when he arrived on the left-hand side and, of the three wide men who played in the role this evening, he looked the most natural – which is not surprising when he is the only one of the three who prefers to play on the left. A through ball nearly put Naughton in behind and it was Chadli who teed Defoe up for the second goal.
LEWIS HOLTBY 6
The German replaced Sandro and worked busily to help retain possession in the closing stages. He also provided further evidence of his relationship with Defoe after finding the striker with a neat pass – but he was offside.
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