FK SHKENDIJA (North Macedonia)  1  (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR  3  (1)
Date :  –  Thursday 24th September 2020 Kick off :  19.00 (UK time)  
Competition : –  Europa League Third Qualifying Round Venue :  –  Tose Proeski Arena, Skopje
Crowd : – 0,000
Referee : –  Ali Palabiyik (TUR) Linesmen : –  Serkan Olguncan ; Cem Satman  (TUR)
Fourth official : –  Arda Kardesler (TUR)
Weather :  Warm
Spurs kicked off and attacked the first half


  1   Kostadin ZAHOV 12  Joe HART
16  Mevlan MURATI 24   Serge AURIER
  Egzon BEJTULAI    4  Toby ALDERWEIRELD (c)
20  Jan KRIVAK   6  Davinson SANCHEZ
  3  Antonio PAVIC 33  Ben DAVIES
19  Bruno DITA  (17.  Arbin ZEJULLAI  85)   8  Harry WINKS    (18.  Giovani LO CELSO  59)
  8  Ennur TOTRE 28  Tanguy NDOMBELE
10  Valon AHMEDI 23  Steven BERGWIJN  (27.  Lucas MOURA  66)
23  Valmir NAIFU    (77.  Florent RAMADANI  85)
20  DELE Alli  (10.  Harry KANE  60  )
14  Ljupco DORIEV  (22.  Zeja MERDJANI  85)  11  Erik LAMELA 
  7  Besart IBAIMI   7   Heung-Min SON 
Substitutes Substitutes
40  Beki REDJEPI   1  Hugo LLORIS
15  Leard SADRIU  2  Matt DOHERTY
24  Medzit NEZIRI  15  Eric DIER
34  Aboubaker Es SAHHAL  17  Mousa SISSOKO


Manager Ernest Gjoka Manager Jose Mourinho
Kit Supplier Macron Kit Supplier Nike
Shirt Sponsor Ecolog Shirt Sponsor AIA
Colours Shirts : black right half, a red left half and red/black stripe
between them; white and black detail around buttoned neck.
Shorts : Black 
Socks :  Black with red turnover, one black hoop around it  
Image from the Colours of Football website
   Naifu  54m 12s Lamela  04m 02s
    Son  69m 38s
    Kane  87m 54s
Bejtulai (foul on Dele)  39 Winks (foul on Doriev)  36
None None



A scare ten minutes into the second half gave Tottenham the impetus to go on and win this match by a 3-1 margin that looked like it might be much higher than that in a dominant first half.  When Naifu let fly from 25 yards in the 56th minute, not even a reduced height goal could have hindered the flight of it into the top corner.  And the pre-match kerfuffle about the goals being 5cm too short was a long forgotten concern, as this goal gave Spurs something more serious to think about.

The pack was shuffled by Mourinho, making six changes to the side that overcame South Coast Big Club so easily, with Joe Hart being handed his first start for the club between the posts and he he nothing to do for the majority of the game, other than pick the ball out of the net.  Zahov in the other goal was the busier of the two and even then, Spurs only managed eight shots on target.

Tottenham started the game at a good pace, with lot so possession, but nothing much to show for it until the game reached the four minute mark.  Bergwijn and Son linked on the left, with Heung-Min sliding a pass right to Lamela inside the right side of the box and he put the ball across the keeper low into the net with his right foot to give Spurs an ideal start. It had been all Spurs up to that point, so it was not a shock when the goal came, only the early timing of it.

The referee was letting play continue when Shkendija players wanted a free-kick for almost every challenge, but he wasn’t buying it. He also didn’t see it as a penalty when Dele went down under challenge in the box in the 20th minute, with it being another five minutes before another bit of action in the home penalty area, as Toby rose to head Son’s corner a couple of feet wide. Shortly after, Bergwijn’s ball across the box to the right saw Aurier volley a cushioned pass back into the middle of the box, where Dele didn’t make a good contact with the ball from around the penalty spot. The ball popped up and was cleared off the line as Son ducked in to try and head it home.

With 33 minutes gone, our defending at corners was suspect once more, with a ball fizzed in to the near post that was missed by a red and black shirt, but hit Davinson Sanchez and the ball spun away over the bar, but could have gone anywhere. The home team were giving the ball away cheaply, with Tottenham’s press not needing to be that hard. Three minutes before the break, Nafiu tried a 30 yarder and it flew into the wide open spaces beyond the running track behind the goal. At the other end, Dele had a determined run at goal and shot wide, off the boot of a defender from just outside the box. From the corner Serge Aurier headed wide for the second time in the match.

With the first half over and with Jose Mourinho constantly urging the players to close down the home side, it would be job done if they could have scored a second in the first period.  It was three minutes into the half when Lamela went on a mazy run from right to left across the face of the penalty area, before hitting a left foot shot that the keeper couldn’t hold, but was cleared away. In the next attack Aurier’s cross was missed by Son and the ball wouldn’t come down for Bergwijn the have a shot. Dele was held off as a cross came in and when a free-kick came to nothing, Son tried a dipper from 30 yards, but it didn’t come down. In the 53rd minute, Winks  dinked a delightful ball into the box, where Erik tried to flick it with his left foot, with only the keeper to beat, but missed the ball completely. A minute later, Joe Hart had to do something, when a neat passing move almost put in one of the Shkendija players running into the box, before the Spurs keeper came out to claim it.

With the home team looking a little more confident in going forward, Nafiu got the ball 20 yards out and he drove a shot high into the top left-hand corner of Hart’s goal to level the score. It was a goal out of nothing, but when you are only a goal ahead, it is a tenuous lead and it was a very good goal. Tottenham needed a reaction to get back into the lead with 35 minutes left. Mourinho’s reaction was to put Giovani Lo Celso on to take the place of Harry Winks and Harry Kane came on for Dele, just after Lamela had a run and shot that the goalkeeper failed to hold again. Shkendija came closest to scoring the net goal, when a left wing cross came in and Ibrahimi rose between Toby and Ben to win the header, but to put it wide. Lamela did the same after Ndombele put a great ball through to Aurier and his cross picked out the Argentine, but he never looked like getting it on target.

Lucas Moura was added into the mix, with Bergwijn going off with 35 minutes left. Kane missed what appeared to be a siple header,  when Aurier checked onto his left foot to cross from 18 yards out on the right, but Harry’s glancing header went a couple of feet wide of the keeper’s right-hand post. Tottenham needed a second goal, because the opponents had shown they could score out of nothing.

A good move saw Lo Celso feed Moura in on the right side of the box and his shot was pushed out by the keeper, straight to Son, who lifted it over the two defenders and the keeper in front of him and into the roof of the net. It was a striker’s clinical finish and one that Tottenham desperately needed at this stage of the game. Now they needed to go on and finish the game off in the last twenty minutes.

Son’s deep corner was headed down and at goal by Harry Kane, but it was a simple pick-up for the goalie, with no power in the effort.  With a couple of minutes remaining and from more or less the same position, this time Kane headed down past the keeper from six yards out that put Son’s cross back across the keeper to give Spurs a breathing space. The move had followed a long series of passes from the back to front and exploited the tiring Shkendija team.

Ndombele and Son had a good break on, but it slowed down, allowing Shkendija to get back behind the ball and the move ended with Moura heading over when he got under the ball.

Spurs kept possession to see out the game and progress to meet Macabbi Haifa at home next week in the play-off to qualify for the group stages.  It was a little bit worrying at 1-1, with the goal of the game coming form the home team, but the substitutions after the Shkendija goal swayed the match in Tottenham’s favour, with Kane, Lo Celso and Moura adding more guile to the attack.  As usual, social media slaughtered some of our players, but the side stand and fall as a unit and worked to ensure that the home side were limited to just one shot on target.  It was just such a well-placed effort that it was more or less unstoppable.

With the games piling up and a decision on the Orient League Cup tie still to be made, it could be that we are pitched in against Chelsea before the Europa League play-off.  It will utilise the squad and some of the players who were left behind from this trip might be selected in either the matches against Newcastle on Sunday, Leyton Orient/Chelsea on Tuesday and Maccabi Haifa on Thursday.  It is a mad schedule, but one that we will have to go through to achieve securing a trophy.  

That’s something that Mourinho and the players have to get into their mindset, unless the Government start moving some other goalposts.

Pete Stachio


Match Notes

First time Spurs have played North Macedonian opposition.