FC Twente 3 Tottenham 3 - Defoe scores twice as Spurs march on in Europe
Tottenham top Group A after thrilling draw with FC Twente as the Champions League adventure continues.
AFTER the heroic comeback at the San Siro, the historic victory over Inter Milan and the demolition of Werder Bremen, there was something anti-climactic about the grand finale.
Having fought gallantly for every point in Group A, Spurs were effectively given top spot without a fight on Tuesday night.
The onus was on Inter to better Tottenham’s result and they didn’t, as Rafael Benitez named a weakened side in Bremen, and saw his side beaten 3-0.
That meant that Spurs could have lost in Holland and still finished first – so how do we analyse a performance and a result which seemed to matter at the time but, in hindsight, didn’t?
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Should we focus on another three goals away against one of Europe’s elite – at the home of the Dutch champions no less? Add Young Boys into the equation and Spurs have scored 10 goals on the road in the Champions League.
In fact, the Lilywhites have netted 24 times in eight games in total, and become the first team in Champions League history to score at least two goals in all six group matches.
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Or, on the other hand, should we cast the spotlight upon a Tottenham defence which is still struggling to adapt to the top level?
The three goals that were conceded in the Netherlands this week means that Harry Redknapp’s side have now shipped 12 goals in four games on the continent.
Having thrown away the lead at Birmingham on Saturday, it was a similar tale on Tuesday as Spurs took the advantage three times but were still unable to close out the win.
These are valid and ongoing concerns and, had Inter shown some ambition in Germany, Spurs’ defensive frailties could easily have left them in second place, exposed to the likes of Barcelona in next Friday’s draw.
In the end, it is probably best to ignore these ifs and buts and focus on reality. Ultimately, all that matters is that Tottenham have topped group A in their first season in the Champions League, finishing ahead of the holders.
“That’s how we are, we score goals, we let goals in. We score more goals and let more in,” said Redknapp. “It’s a great achievement to finish top of what, for me, was the toughest group of the lot.”
It has certainly been a thrilling ride and Tuesday’s six-goal affair means that 38 goals have been scored in Spurs’ eight European games so far – an average of just under five per game.
The easiest of those came in Holland in the 12th minute as Spurs witnessed a comical own goal. Twente’s Peter Wisgehof slid the ball back to Sander Boschker, only to see his goalkeeper miss the ball with his attempted clearance and watch the ball roll into the net.
It was a fortuitous lead and it lasted just 10 minutes as Benoit Assou-Ekotto instinctively raised his arm to protect his head from Roberto Rosales’ volley inside the penalty box.
The spot-kick was harsh but probably fair, and Denny Landzaat converted – twice, having been ordered to re-take following encroachment into the area.
Spurs regained the lead two minutes after half-time as Aaron Lennon freed goalscorer Jermain Defoe with a clever reverse pass but eight minutes later Lennon lost Theo Janssen and allowed him to cross for Rosales, who headed home.
Equality did not last for long and four minutes later Spurs were 3-2 up as Wilson Palacios won the ball 30 yards from Twente’s goal, forced a save from Boschker and saw Defoe pounce on the rebound for his second of the match.
But five minutes later, the Lilywhites were pegged back for the third and final time as Nacer Chadli placed a 64th-minute free kick into the top corner.
Twente are now off to the Europa League. Tottenham, on the other hand, have bigger fish to fry.