By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent, at White Hart Lane
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Tottenham beat Inter Milan 3-0 at White Hart Lane, but how did the individual players perform against the Serie A outfit?
BRAD FRIEDEL 7/10
Made a good second-half save with his feet but otherwise had a relatively quiet night - because Spurs were that dominant.
KYLE WALKER 7/10
An accomplished display with no real fireworks but no gaffes either, and he played his part in an important clean sheet. The right-back was rightly frustrated that Jermain Defoe held onto the ball and tried to go himself in the second half, when he had raced 70 yards to get into a great position.
WILLIAM GALLAS 8/10
Andre Villas-Boas is saving the veteran Frenchman for these European ties and, although his distribution was careless at times, he led by experience, defending on the front foot and keeping the defensive line pushed high up the pitch. The xx-year-old had a rush of blood to the head in the 80th minute and led a charge out of defence, playing a one-two with Gareth Bale and finding himself in the front line. It took him three times as long to haul his tired body back into position.
JAN VERTONGHEN 10/10
An experienced European campaigner, he was also a vocal presence at the back, stopping the ball midway through the first half before giving it to Scott Parker and telling him to slow the game down. The Belgian then had a heated exchange with Gallas, despite Tottenham being 2-0 ahead, demanding perfection. Vertonghen looked to bring the ball out of defence at every possible opportunity, and he showed his quality towards the end of the first half, advancing out of the rearguard, pirouetting when he saw there was no available pass and then whipping a sublime ball down the left touchline for Jermain Defoe to chase. He should have scored early in the first half, when Gareth Bale’s cross reached him at the back post – but he made amends soon afterwards, heading home from Bale’s cross to make it 3-0.
BENOIT ASSOU-EKOTTO 8/10
Showed excellent vision and control throughout. The left-back overlapped to good effect, moving up into the space vacated by Gyfli Sigurdsson before firing the ball accurately back inside to Spurs’ middle men or whipping dangerous crosses into the box. The Cameroon international was quieter in the second half but can reflect on a job well done.
AARON LENNON 7/10
Grew into the game, as he did against Arsenal on Sunday, and played a key role in the second goal as he gathered the ball from Dembele, crossed for Defoe and saw the loose ball bundled home by Sigurdsson. The winger diligently tracked back as usual and nearly scored for the second game in a row, nipping into the area but being denied by Handanovic. The 25-year-old’s game ended prematurely as he was tackled late in the final 10 minutes. He was immediately substituted and headed straight down the tunnel for treatment.
SCOTT PARKER 9/10
The English lionheart can be sloppy in possession but he was impressive on the ball tonight, seeking action, rarely misplacing a pass and committing men by driving forward. Those runs often lead him into trouble, but not this time – and his defensive work was as commendably committed as usual. His best all-round performance for a while.
MOUSA DEMBELE 9/10
This was simple football at its best – and Dembele at his best. The Belgian showed off his full array of attributes, getting back to shrug an opponent off the ball one moment before dropping a shoulder and driving through the middle of the field the next. The 25-year-old completed all 43 of the passes he attempted in the first half and was withdrawn shortly after the hour-mark with Sunday’s trip to Liverpool in mind.
GYLFI SIGURDSSON 10/10
The Iceland international deservedly kept his place after the north London derby, when he set up Gareth Bale’s opener, and his resurgence continued apace tonight. Stationed on the left, he looked bright from the start and his elusive movement into central areas allowed Assou-Ekotto to move into attacking areas. There was also an end product to Sigurdsson’s efforts – he set up Bale’s early opener with a fine cross and then scored the second goal, getting himself into the box to ram the ball home after Jermain Defoe’s effort had been saved. Came off to a standing ovation and looks like a different player these days after a much-needed boost of confidence. His first league goal at West Ham seems to have been vital, and his form is a big boost for Tottenham as they look ahead to the climax to their season.
GARETH BALE 9/10
The poster boy for this tie, the Welshman did not disappoint, heading home from Sigurdsson’s cross in the sixth minute to score his 10th goal in eight games for club and country. Unfortunately, the diving issue reared its head again as he was booked for simulation in the 14th minute – and that means he will miss the return leg at the San Siro, the scene of his hat-trick in 2010. That understandably meant he had to be cautious when tracking back defensively, but his threat at the other end of the field continued unabated and he found Vertonghen with two set pieces early in the second half – the second chance being converted. Bale nearly doubled his tally on the hour-mark as he ran at the defence before firing into the side-netting.
JERMAIN DEFOE 7/10
The striker made his first start since the trip to West Brom on February 3 and looked keen to make up for lost time. It took just six minutes for him to take the ball from Bale on the edge of the box and unleash a trademark 20-yard effort on goal, which was saved. He repeated the trick midway through the first half, receiving the ball from Lennon and turning to fire on goal. Again, his effort was saved but Sigurdsson was on hand to follow up and score. The England man saw another 20-yard shot saved in the 63rd minute as Handanovic just about managed to turn the ball around the post. Clearly keen for a goal, his selfishness got the better of him moments later as he advanced from the halfway line and ignored Walker, Lennon and Bale, who had all burst forward in support. Defoe was still trying to get his goal in injury-time, but it never came. Still, he has surely done enough to keep his place ahead of Emmanuel Adebayor (which admittedly isn’t difficult).
JAKE LIVERMORE (substitute) 6/10
Came in and worked hard, maintaining his discipline and resisting the urge to fly forwards with the rest of his team-mates.
LEWIS HOLTBY (substitute) 6/10
Clearly keen to impress, the German added a burst of energy and underlined the competition for places in Spurs’ midfield.
KYLE NAUGHTON (substitute) 6/10
Replaced the injured Aaron Lennon and showed quality when he got the chance, exchanging passes with Walker before freeing the overlapping right-back.
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