December 12 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe at White Hart Lane
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Europa League qualifier 2nd leg: Tottenham 3 Dinamo Tbilisi (agg 8-0)
Tottenham breezed past Dinamo Tbilisi 8-0 on aggregate to reach the Europa League group stages but it was very much after the Lord Mayor’s show as hours earlier they’d glimpsed what could have been with the pageantry surrounding UEFA’s more esteemed prize.
While the Champions League draw pitted some of football’s giants against each other Spurs were obliged to canter through what was effectively a dead rubber against a Georgian outfit that highlighted how inferior much of the opposition is in Europe’s bloated second tier competition.
It took a Jermain Defoe double in the final five minutes of the first half to break the malaise as the diminutive striker provided a full repertoire of his goalscoring prowess. A typically unerring finish, lashed into the corner was followed by a true poacher’s goal, poked in from point-blank range.
German international Lewis Holtby then broke his Tottenham duck with a screamer on 69 minutes to completely finish off Tbilisi who never looked capable of making a dent in the 5-0 first leg victory that Andros Townsend had helped shape last week.
The 22-year-old was this week given a first England senior call-up, and though he put in a third purposeful performance on the spin, his substitution at half time will be one of his most welcome early exits as it surely indicates that the Spurs graduate will start against the old enemy Arsenal on Sunday.
By the time he made way for Harry Kane the Lilywhites were already two goals up in this leg courtesy of Defoe, and 7-0 better off overall.
The shots rained in after the restart, though Holtby was the only man to find the target before paying homage to Spurs and German legend Jurgen Klinsmann with a diving celebration.
At least it was a step up from a first half that will not live long in the memory.
White Hart Lane was kept in a state of silence for the first 40 minutes where their side dominated but rarely felt the need to step on the gas. Indeed much of the entertainment came from the sidelines as manager Andre Villas-Boas and then sections of the crowd tried in vain to shift a stubborn fourth official who blocked their view by standing in front of the dugouts.
As it turned out, there was not much to miss early on, save for a deserved caution apiece - one for Sandro on his first start since January.
But then Italian referee Luca Banti waved away a clear penalty for the hosts just before the half hour mark. Defoe twisted in the box and the ball bounced up where David Khurtsilava palmed it on to the forward’s chest but succeeded in winning a free-kick with the official claiming the Spurs man had infringed. He would again be denied a clear penalty at the death and was booked for succumbing to the effects of gravity under the same defender’s reckless challenge.
The Dinamo man went rather more by the book in between those two unpunished misdeamours when his last-ditch tackle was timed to perfection to halt the dash of Townsend.
The breakthrough came six minutes before the interval when Tom Carroll slipped Defoe in on goal and the weight of the pass was so fine that the striker pulled the trigger straight away, leaving keeper Giorgi Loria with no chance.
The England international doubled his tally on the stroke of half time when Kyle Walker opened his box of tricks to feed in Gylfi Sigurdsson and his centre across the six-yard box teased the Tbilisi defence who could do nothing to stop the striker from stabbing in.
The visitors’ only chance came by way of an agricultural punt forward after the break that caught the Spurs backline napping, but a poor touch from Patrick Voho steered him too far wide and he slammed a shot into the side netting.
Defoe did the same at the other end but his movement to engineer some space showed superior quality and took a strong palm from Loria to deny him a hat-trick.
It suddenly became open season shooting practice for Spurs as the keeper could only stand as watch while Sigurdsson sent a curler just the wrong side of the upright and Defoe then Holtby were slightly more off target.
Still, at least it showed that Spurs weren’t content to sit on their unassailable lead and Sigurdsson was left shaking his head in disappointed when he rattled the angle of post and bar with an arching effort from outside the area.
Holtby had been taking notice of these range finders because when Carroll teed him up 20 yards out the midfielder aimed a rocket straight for in to the top corner.
It put a spectacular slant on a routine 180 minutes that will now likely see Spurs sent to the ends of Europe for a needless amount of group games in a competition they’ll begrudgingly partake in.
At least on Sunday at arch-rivals Arsenal they will get their first chance at re-establishing the Premier League top four order that consigned them to a string of Thursday night dates.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker (Fryers, 56), Kaboul, Vertonghen, Holtby (Dembele, 76), Naughton, Townsend (Kane, 45), Defoe, Sigurdsson, Carroll, Sandro
Unused subs: Lloris, Paulinho, Soldado, Capoue,
Dinamo Tbilisi: Loria, Kvarathskhelia, Khmaladze, Merebashvili (Khocholava, 78), Khurtsilava, Kvirkvelia (Glisic, 34), Grigalashvili (Seturidze, 86), Goga, Gvelesiani, Dzaria, Voho
Unused subs: Zarkua, Dvali, Papava, Shashiashvili
Referee: Luca Banti