Our highest score of the season, which included what could well be the goal of the season! Erik Lamela took the plaudits, as Harry Kane made off with the match ball, with our Europa League tie finishing Spurs 5 Asteras Tripolis 1 at White Hart Lane.
A convincing victory that left the manager less than convinced. We ran out easy winners, but there was plenty for Mauricio Pochettino to ponder.
The key to the game was Asteras Tripolis’ set up, which was loosened by us getting in to the inside right channel. As the score increased, their defence was forced to come out and we were able to take advantage through this lane.
From the off, Asteras came to play on the counter. As we often play quite narrow, many teams have come to the Lane and looked to congest the centre of the park. Asteras were no different, as they sought to drop deep and get players around the ball in the middle of the pitch.
Erik Lamela was starting from the left and it looked at kick-off as if Pochettino was going to deploy him as an orthodox winger. However, the Argentinean was constantly drifting inside in to where this congestion was. That saw him crowded out and dispossessed of the ball. Here we can see how he lays it back to Fazio with four Asteras players around him.
This set up by the Greeks allowed them to win the ball back and then break forward. With us playing a much higher line than usual, this saw them create chances from chipped balls over the top and in to the space behind.
High line hijinks
Although we dominated possession by 60%-40%, Asteras out shot us in the game 17-16 through their counter attacks.
At the heart of their breaks forward was the passing of Martin Rolle and the runs of Pablo Mazza, Facundo Parra and Anastasios Tsokanis.
It started early as a clipped ball over the top was wafted on by Etienne Capoue and Pablo Mazza scuffed an effort wide.
Next, Hugo Lloris had to race out and head away another lobbed pass to deny Tsokanis as he looked to be clean through.
This was followed by arguably their chance of the night. Rolle’s diagonal chipped pass fell delightfully for Facundo Parra.
He tried to lob the ball over Hugo Lloris who parried it up in the air. Ben Davies then blocked his second effort on the line.
The warning signs were there, but the lofted passes over our back four kept coming.
Hugo Lloris again made another wonder save, as his cat-like reactions saw him flick an effort round the post from Fernando Usero.
With the game out of reach, our super stopper was sent off for bringing down Tsokanis after he was sent clear.
Despite the lop-sided score line, this clearly angered Mauricio Pochettino who was unhappy on the sidelines, then in his post match interview.
“I’m not too happy because of the end of the game. At 5-0, we need to manage the game better and not give the possibility to the opponent to arrive one against one with our goalkeeper. For that, I’m not satisfied.”
Inside right channel key
Despite the problems Asteras posed by their chipped passes behind our back four, we tore them apart and blew the game open through the inside right channel.
The Greeks were looking to stifle the centre, but quick movements of ball and players in to this channel, saw us take the lead and then extend it.
Harry Kane, who was playing as a second striker from the number ten position, was at the centre of it. He opened the scoring from a blast from range, but the move started with Erik Lamela drifting inside in to a wall of four Asteras defenders.
His quick movement of the ball to Etienne Capoue saw the Frenchman shift it to Harry Kane, who was in space in the inside right channel.
With Asteras’ defenders now all spread out and unable to hunt in a pack, Kane had a lane to drive the ball across the goalkeeper. The youngster has an excellent shot form range and he found the bottom corner, via the inside of the post, with aplomb to make it 1-0.
One became two, as Erik Lamela scored what could well turn out to be the goal of the season. Lamela is one of the most one-footed players I have seen at Spurs, but what a left foot he has!
His ‘rabona strike’ was brilliant, audacious and just simply sublime skill that shows the potential of the man.
We’ve seen Lamela loose chances by trying to switch the ball on to his left, such as at home to Southampton. Here, he improvised to take the effort on with his favoured foot first time and it made all the difference. His comments afterwards confirmed just how much he likes to use his left foot and this time it made for a wonder goal.
“I wasn’t thinking about doing something like that, I just wanted to score and it was the most effective, comfortable way of making it happen.”
The finish was spectacular but the move went straight through the Asteras inside right channel. Again it was Harry Kane in here, as he got free between the lines and played in Emmanuel Adebayor. The Togolese striker, who had a quietly effective night, surged through the channel and several Asteras defenders who couldn’t cope with his strength and size.
The ball ran loose as he was partially tackled, but Lamela’s quick thinking and audacious attempt made it 2-0.
With Asteras now having to come out and find their way back in to the game, they came forward more, but started to lose their shape.
Here Mousa Dembele was faced by five opposition players as Kane and Davies had oceans of space on the other side.
Asteras’ discipline was waning and we added a third with what was the only goal we scored from the left after stealing the ball from their free kick.
They had played the dead ball to Pablo Mazza who was instantly jumped upon by Erik Lamela. The Argentinean fed the ball forward to Harry Kane, who was free between the lines for a third time, and then continued his run.
Kane found the Argentinean beyond the right back to put him in on goal. Lamela saw his first shot deflected up in the air, but made no mistake with a wicked volleyed drive as the rebound dropped.
Three became four as we went back at the inside right channel once more. Again Asteras’ concentration had dropped as Mousa Dembele received a corner unmarked in the inside right channel.
His vicious drive cannoned back off the keeper’s legs and Kane was there to scoop up the rebound to make it 4-0.
Kane was having an excellent game, moving off the front from his position as a number ten. He completed his hat trick on 80 minutes, as again we created from the inside right channel.
Kane had a shot that deflected past the goal and it was retrieved by Federico Fazio. With time and space to lift his head, Fazio dinked a deft cross to Kane at the back post who was calling for the ball, 5-0.
Four of our five goals were created through or from the inside right channel as Asteras had initially been dragged around, but then lost their shape.
The Greeks would score as Hugo Lloris got a straight red card for bringing down Tsokanis. He was replaced in goal by Harry Kane, but by then the damage had been done.
Final score: Spurs 5 Asteras Tripolis 1.