|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0)||ROYAL ANTWERP 0 (0)|
|Date : – 10th December 2020||Kick off : – 20.00|
|Competition : – Europa League Group J||Venue : – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium|
|Crowd : – 2,000|
|Referee : – Jesús Gil Manzano (SPA)||Linesmen : – Diego Barbero (SPA); Ángel Nevado (SPA)|
|Fourth official : – Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez (SPA)|
|UEFA Delegate : – Neil Morrow (NIR)||UEFA Referee Observer : – Lucilio Batista (POR)|
|Weather : – Chilly, drizzle in second half|
|Royal Antwerp kicked off the first half and attacked the Park Lane end.|
|Playing time : – 90 + 5 minutes
|ROYAL ANTWERP||TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR|
|Vinicius 55m 53s|
|Lo Celso 70m 20s|
|Sanchez (foul on Benavente) 86|| Seck (foul on Moura) 25
|Ampomah (foul on Sanchez) 77|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||ROYAL ANTWERP|
|12.||Joe HART||1.||Alireza BEIRANVAND|
|25.||Japhet TANGANGA||30.||Aurelio BUTA|
|6.||Davinson SANCHEZ||4.||Abdoulaye SECK ( 5. Birger VERSTRAETE 72)|
|33.||Ben DAVIES (c)||26.||Jeremy GELIN|
|2.||Matt DOHERTY||94.||Jordan LUKAKU ( 6. Simen JUKLEROD 59)|
|8.||Harry WINKS ( 28. Tanguy NDOMBELE 58)|
|18.||Giovani LO CELSO||28.||Manuel BENSON (19. Koji MIYOSHI 72)|
|3.||Sergio REGUILON ( 23. Steven BERGWIJN 46)||38.||Faris HAROUN (c)|
|18.||Martin HONGLA (15. Frank BOYA 58)|
|20.||Gareth BALE ( 7. Heung-Min SON 58)||11.||Lior REFAELOV (23. Nana AMPOMAH 46 )|
|45.||Carlos VINICIUS ( 10. Harry KANE 59)|
|27.||Lucas MOURA ( 17. Moussa SISSOKO 68)||24.||Cristian BENAVENTE|
|Substitutes : –||Substitutes : –|
|41.||Alfie WHITEMAN||46.||Jean BUTEZ|
|15.||Eric DIER||41.||Thiam CHEVAUGHN|
|4.||Toby ALDERWEIRELD||46.||Ritchie de LAET|
|48.||Harvey WHITE||70.||Dieumerci MBOKANI|
|Manager : – Jose Mourinho||Manager : – Ivan Leko|
|Kit Supplier : – Nike||Kit Supplier : – Jako|
|Shirt Sponsor : – AIA||Shirt Sponsor : – Ghelamco|
|Colours : –
White shorts worn
|Colours : –
Kit had no white neck or trim on shorts. Socks had one white hoop near top.
|Images of kits courtesy of the wonderful Colours of Football website|
With a decent second half performance, Tottenham saw off the challenge of Royal Antwerp by a score-line of 2-0 for the top spot in Group J of the Europa League, leaving an easier tie for Spurs in the Round of 32.
It was my first match back in the stadium and while it was fantastic to be back, it was a bit of an eerie experience. Deserted concourses, no queues for food and drink, with supporters separated by two or more seats between them, it was a chilly night out. The sound in the South Stand was a little underwhelming. Probably because the game was less than thrilling for most of the 90 minutes, but the singing started on one side of the stand and by the time it reached the other side (delayed by the separation between fans), it seemed out of synch and died away. It sounded a lot better on Sunday, but then you might expect that being a match against the Goons.
The match had been drab in the first half, with neither side putting much in the way of flowing football together, but Antwerp had looked the more likely side to score. In the first minute, after Reguilon had been pole-axed by Winks’ clearance, Benson played a ball inside Davies for Buta, who would have been in on goal had he not been flagged for off-side. It was a clever pass and cold have spelled trouble for Tottenham with the Antwerp playing free in the box.
Tottenham’s first threat came three minutes later, with a Bale free-kick form the right played in and Tanganga went up for it, with the keeper flapping and going to ground, The Spanish referee gave a corner and not a free-kick to the keeper … maybe a first in European football ! From it, Gareth got his head to the ball, but could not put his header on target. Harry Winks was trying to make an impression on the manager by snapping into tackles and he set up Lucas Moura for a shot from just outside the area, but it didn’t bring the keeper into action, as it hit Bale, who was offside anyway. While we looked to be playing quite narrow up front, it was possible to work the ball into the box, with Vinicius being released, but he was tackled by Gelin. Bale had a shot blocked and then Lucas picked up the loose ball and suffered the same fate.
Japhet went down heavily under a challenge on their winger Refaelov and needed treatment which initially looked like it was for a dislocation, but he got up and was waved back on shortly after. The sides swapped attacks, with a corner dropping for Haroun at the far post, but he couldn’t hit the target, then Vinicius put a shot straight at Beiranvand.
When Lucas looked as though he had got away and had a run on goal, he was fouled by Seck, who got a yellow card. When Doherty came in off the line, he played a neat pass inside the box to Giovani Lo Celso, who turned inside and shot left-footed. It looked like it was going wide, but Seck blocked it on the six-yard line. Then Antwerp looked as though they might break the deadlock, with Benavente being put through the Spurs back line, but a heavy touch took him away from goal on the right side and his shot was blocked by Sanchez’s recovery tackle. From the resulting corner, Spurs launched a breakaway, with Vinicius being freed by Lo Celso, but the keeper beat him to the ball. It went straight to Doherty on the edge of the centre circle in the Antwerp half, but couldn’t get the ball to settle to hit it back past the goalkeeper, ending up being tackled leaving him on the floor.
Gio was dictating Tottenham’s attacks and he was in the area after ghosting past a player and nut-megging another, shooting with the outside of his left foot from the left side of the goal, forcing the keeper to dive to his left to keep it out. Bale almost found Reguilon at the near post with a low ball in and then Vinicius produced a shot from the left inside the area which was blocked by Beirandran, who then needed treatment as he was winded in preventing a goal.
At the turnaround, both sides had attacked without truly looking like scoring, with the crowd subdued through the lack of cohesive play. With the team playing narrow up front to allow the full backs to push on (well … Reguilon to push on), Jose changed things by replacing Regi with Stevie Bergwijn. Antwerp swapped the scorer in the first leg Refaelov, who had been fairly anonymous, with Nana Ampomah. The move worked for Spurs who looked sharper, with Lo Celso’s shot bringing a block by Honga. Both sides tried attacking, but neither did it successfully and when Lucas ran through the Antwerp midfield before being fouled by Seck again. It was at least 30 yards out and Gareth Bale did his best Ronaldo stance as he lined up a shot from the free-kick. And that he did ! It was heading for Beiranvand’s to left hand corner until the tall keeper reached up to palm it onto the post. It was a very good save, but the ball dropped in front of the goal off the post, with the keeper on the floor at it’s foot, leaving Vinicius following it in and the simple task of knocking it over the line from about a couple of yards out. It had taken 56 minutes, but Tottenham had the lead and although there were only 2,000 fans (plus those family and staff in the West Stand), the noise of celebrating a goal was exhilarating. The hit of enjoyment from scoring a goal was what we had been missing.
Vinicius’ alertness was key to the goal, but Bale’s free-kick was spot on and so it was a surprise that both were then hooked by Mourinho, with Kane and Son replacing them. The two regulars had been warming up prior to the goal and Jose wasn’t going to change his mind. Winks went off too, with Ndombele coming on in his place, with the Spurs number 8 heading straight down the tunnel. While Winks was obviously disappointed, Ndombele’s strength on the ball might help Tottenham retain possession, with the front two tying up the Royal Antwerp defence and prevent them thinking about pushing on too much. The opposition made a couple of substitutions at the same time, but whether these were planned or in reaction of Tottenham’s changes I don’t know, but they now needed a goal to finish the group top.
Giovani was still running the show and he was revelling in nut-megging and going on long runs with the ball, while Stevie was threatening wide on the left, he found Heung-Min struck a shot straight at the keeper, which he pushed out. Then Kane picked up a loose pass played Son in to his left, where he stepped over the ball to create space and from a narrow angle in the box, he stung the keeper’s hands with a shot that left him shaking them as he pushed the ball over the bar. When the corner came in, it went to Harry Kane at the far post, but his header was a foot wide. If it had been on target, the keeper would not have got to it.
Bergwijn brought a dive out of the keeper to stop his right-footed effort, coming in from the left wing, but when the Beiranvand cleared the ball upfield, Sanchez won it, an Antwerp midfielder played it forward into the centre circle and Sissoko nicked the ball forward to Kane. With Lo Celso to his right, he played the ball in front of the Argentine midfielder who sealed a fine performance by knocking the ball with the outside of his left foot from the right side of the goal running into the box. Apart from covering an incredible amount of ground in the match, his ability to run with the ball committed opposition players and created space for others.
Antwerp brought on two new players, one of whom was booked for fouling Sanchez soon after and Davinson got on the end of Son’s free-kick but could only head wide across goal and then Gio made a good run into the area, but he was tackled when it looked as though he might get a shot away. He followed this up with a run from the right of our penalty box, nutmegging someone on the way, taking the ball 50 yards forward and winning a throw-in.
With Sanchez getting booked for a foul in the centre of the pitch, Antwerp didn’t get near to the Spurs goal and Kane almost added to the lead. Moving into the box, he went around a couple of players before losing his balance, falling, but when on the ground still finding the awareness to hook his foot at the ball, which went wide of the far post.
It was a professional job well done with a solid performance after the first ten minutes. There was a worrying moment when Son went down holding his ankle and it was a relief when he ran it off. The side was a little disjointed due to the changes, but Lo Celso stood out head and shoulders above everyone else. Topping will help the progress in this competition, avoiding the seeded Champions League sides that have dropped down into the competition.
As for the return to the stadium, it was good to be back, albeit a little strange. I am not sure if the club made any money out of the match, with a large number of stewards employed, even areas where there were no fans, although the restaurants in the West Stand seemed to be in operation. Stewards were still keen for fans to sit down, while they did enforce the wearing of masks and keeping social distances. It felt perfectly safe though, with lots of hand sanitiser points around the concourses and the queuing outside to get to the turnstiles well organised.
Not quite as we remember football, but the essentials are there and it brought a little bit of familiarity and normality back to life, albeit it might be the one game I get to this season, depending on the general Covid situation and if all season ticket holders want to attend.
Moussa Sissoko made his 50th European appearance.
|Other Europa League Results|
|CSKA Sofia (BUL)||3||AS Roma (ITA)||1|
|Young Boys Bern (SWI)||2||CFR Cluj (ROM)||1|
|Dundalk (RoI)||2||Woolwich Wanderers||4|
|Rapid Wien (AUS)||2||Molde (NOR)||2|
|Bayer Leverkusen (GER)||4||Slavia Prague (CZE)||0|
|Hapoel Beer Shava (ISR)||1||Nice (FRA)||0|
|Lech Poznan (POL)||0||Glasgow Rangers (SCO)||2|
|Standard Liege (BEL)||2||Benfica (POR)||2|
|PSV Eindhoven (HOL)||4||Omonoia (CYP)||0|
|PAOK (GRE)||0||Granada (SPA)||0|
|Napoli (ITA)||1||Real Sociedad (SPA)||1|
|Riejka (CRO)||2||AZ Alkmaar (HOL)||1|
|Braga (POR)||2||Zorya Luhansk (UKR)||0|
|Leicester City||2||AEK Athens (GRE)||0|
|Sparta Prague (CZE)||0||AC Milan (ITA)||1|
|Glasgow Celtic (SCO)||3||LOSC (FRA)||2|
|Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)||1||Sivasspor (TUR)||0|
|Villarreal (SPA)||P||Qarabag (AZE)||P|
|Ludogorets (BUL)||1||LASK (AUS)||3|
|Wolfsberger (AUS)||1||Feyenoord (HOL)||0|
|Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)||3||CSKA Moscow (RUS)||1|
|Liberec (CZE)||0||Red Star Belgrade (SER)||0|
|Hoffenheim (GER)||4||Gent (BEL)||1|
Group J Table