Right back Denzel Dumfries was the focus of our attack as our Champions League match finished Tottenham 2-1 PSV at Wembley Stadium.
The errant positioning of Denzel Dumfries came in for constant probing from the Tottenham attack. The right back had been exposed on several occasions during PSV 2-2 Tottenham and was the target here. In spite of a frustrating evening in front of goal, the ploy finally paid off. The match ended Tottenham 2-1 PSV keeping our qualification hopes alive in Champions League Group B.
PSV counter attacks
Tottenham were in control of possession for much of the match, but PSV were highly dangerous on counter attacks.
Mauricio Pochettino gambled by playing a 4-1-4-1, which at times looked like a 4-1-1-4 formation. The extra space afforded in midfield by deploying Harry Winks as a sole defensive midfielder was flooded by PSV on counter attacks. Hirving Lozano and Steven Bergwijn were quick to race in to this open space on any chances PSV had to break out.
The tactic was evident after just one minute. Serge Aurier played a difficult pass in to Lucas Moura. He consequently turned the ball over. Within a second PSV were off and had a flooded the space in midfield with three men.
Angelino broke down the line to get his cross in, which Toby Alderweireld put out for a corner.
The resulting set piece saw Dele Alli matched up with Luuk de Jong. The PSV striker ran Dele off a screen by Nick Viergever. Dele was suddenly blocked off, freeing de Jong. Toby Alderweireld initially did exceptionally well.
Instantly recognising what was going on, Alderweireld picked up de Jong’s run. However, he then overran the cross and got caught underneath the ball.
Alderweireld just missed the clearing header and de Jong steamed in to power home. PSV ahead inside of two minutes.
Tottenham attack the right back
The match in Eindhoven had signalled how vulnerable the PSV full backs were. Denzel Dumfries at right back came in for a lot of attention here as Spurs relentlessly attacked him.
Dumfries’ issues centred on him tracking the wide forward on his side to the point that he was dragged in to some really bad areas and decisions.
The ploy saw him way out of sync with his back line. Some big chances ensued as a result.
Spurs next big chance arrived five minutes later. Both Dele Ali and Christian Eriksen saw their shots saved. However the passage of play to spring Dele saw Dumfries clatter Lucas Moura in central midfield, leaving the rest of his defence to try and cover.
Dele reacted quickest and ran in to the space that Dumfries had left. Poor finishing from both Eriksen and Dele saw the score remain at Tottenham 0-1 PSV.
Dele then had another glorious chance courtesy of one of his classic out-to-in runs.
Dele lined himself up on Dumfries out wide. Dumfries, who was also concerned with Son Heung-Min, was slow to react to the run.
As the ball arrived at the feet of Toby Alderweireld, Dele set off. The timing of the run was perfect to meet the long pass, but Dele once more couldn’t finish.
Tottenham really should’ve been level by this point, but couldn’t convert in spite of the spaces opening up as a result of the play of the PSV right back.
Long ball Tottenham
Spurs huffed and puffed for 74 minutes, but were unable to convert some big chances. That all changed with the introduction of Fernando Llorente and a more long ball game.
Llorente allowed us to play two versus two against the PSV centre backs, which made space for Harry Kane.
Llorente’s impact was immediate. Holding the ball up and neatly laying it off created a glorious chance for Harry Kane. However, Kane found goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet in his way once more with another brilliant save.
No matter. One minute later and this time Llorente’s layoff teed up the equaliser.
Christian Eriksen sent a searching long ball forward. Lining up two versus two against the PSV centre backs saw Kane win the initial header. Llorente was instantly on to the second ball. A deft layoff saw Kane fire in to the back of the net, levelling the score.
The interplay between Llorente and Kane was neat and tidy. Having seen Daniel Schwaab beaten, Denzel Dumfries was slow to recognise the danger and therefore couldn’t stop Kane.
Llorente continued to be a problem as both PSV centre backs were now occupied by having to mark the Spurs strike pairing. His unmarked header from a Harry Winks cross was unfortunately straight at goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.
Attacking the right back wins the match
Spurs had great success attacking Denzel Dumfries to create chances, but had equalised from a long ball approach. A return to going at the right back would see us win the match.
Dumfries had been tracking the wide midfielder on his side. However, the removal of Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura saw him without a defensive focal point and his positioning reflected that. Dele Ali was the player drifting to his side and Dumfries became attracted to him.
As the clock ticked down, the absence of Son and Moura allowed our full backs to get forward. Ben Davies was able to sneak in to the space beyond Dumfries, as he was more concerned with the wide player on his side, Dele Alli.
Dele’s pass found Davies well-timed run. Davies was able to put in a dangerous cross. In the middle, Harry Kane and Fernando Llorente had occupied both centre backs. A neat move by Kane to hesitate and step back saw him gain a yard to meet the cross.
Kane’s downward header took two deflections and ricocheted in to the back of the net. Tottenham 2-1 PSV and a victory snatched at the death. Wembley exploded in celebration as we lived to fight another day.
Tottenham 2-1 PSV overall
Given the state of the Wembley pitch this was a good performance. Following the Anthony Joshua fight and three weekends of NFL the surface was still rutted and thread bare in places. What’s more, the pitch continued to play extremely firmly. The resulting high ball bounce continued to be a problem throughout and bobbling across the worn parts of the surface didn’t help.
Mauricio Pochettino rolled the dice with his initial selection and extremely aggressive formation. Leaving Harry Winks isolated in central midfield was a gamble. As a result, PSV was dangerous on the counter attack. Better finishing from Lozano, de Jong and Donyell Malen in his 1v1 on 81 minutes could’ve seen a very different result.
The ploy to go after Denzel Dumfries was a good one. The PSV right back had been shown up in the first encounter. His constant tracking of the wide midfielder and resulting errant positioning often proved our route to goal. Had we taken our earlier chances the match would’ve been much more comfortable than it was.
Final score: Tottenham 2-1 PSV.
MOTM: Dele Alli.