Tottenham Focus - Spurs ease past Tromso but Rose injury a worry
Tottenham took an early advantage in Group K when they eased to a comfortable 3-0 victory against Tromso Idrettslag in their opening Europa League group match on Thursday. The Norwegians, currently struggling in the Tippeligaen where outclassed by a strong Spurs team which included Erik Lamela making his first start for The Lilywhites.
Arguably when playing teams of lesser quality there is a risk of injuries with tackles being perhaps more robust and less well timed, and so was the case here. The victory was marred by injuries to Danny Rose, Mousa Dembélé and Younes Kaboul. Whilst in his post-match interview coach André Villas-Boas downplayed the injuries to Kaboul and Dembélé, the injury to Rose will be reassessed on Friday.
For Spurs fans this news may be the most worrying. Rose had been settling into to the team well, but with Benôit Assou-Ekoto out on loan, there is no natural cover for the young Englishman. Whilst the injuries cast a shadow over the evening, there were several positives for Tottenham.
Villas-Boas rotated his starting line-up with six changes and the fact players of the calibre of Sandro, Kaboul, Jermain Defoe, Lamela, Lewis Holtby and Kyle Naughton were brought into a starting XI containing nine full internationals highlights the depth of the squad available to the Portuguese.
In the first-half especially Spurs dominated - having around two thirds of possession - whilst Tromso “parked the bus” so deep that, at times, the only Spurs player in his own half was Hugo Lloris. In the past Spurs may have laboured to break down such teams but with Lamela, Holtby and Sigurdsson on the field - and Christian Eriksen on the bench - Spurs now have the creativity needed to make the difference.
There was some good link up play between players and in the 21st minute Spurs took the lead when Defoe was played in by a wonderfully weighted pass from Lamela to chip the onrushing goalkeeper. Eight minutes later and Defoe slid the ball past the keeper from another clever defence splitting pass, this time from Holtby. In the first 45minutes in particular, Holtby shone in the central attacking midfield role. A real live wire, Holtby’s enthusiasm generates a momentum and tempo for the team.
In the second-half, Spurs took their foot off the pedal. The pace slowed considerably, perhaps with the ease of the first-half, perhaps in the knowledge there are two more games coming in the next five days. Tromso came back into the game without really threatening anything and the match was drifting to a conclusion until the introduction of Eriksen and then Paulinho injected some urgency into the Spurs play. Spurs took control again with the increase tempo culminating in Eriksen opening his Spurs account with an exquisite curling chip to make the score 3-0.
Spurs may have been on cruise control for much of this match but may now have the squad to make this a high quality cruise.
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