Yes it was only Hearts and the fifth best team in England should stuff the third ranked side in the Jock prem but it was a decent start to the season.
First competitive game of the new season in the European competition
no on wants to be in that the manager has already dismissed as a distraction, most the midfield missing through injury or
injury, typical mentality of footballers that it’s only the Jocks and not even Celtic or Rangers, don’t really have to bother that’s seen the likes of ManUre stumbled against the Old Firm and of course this being Spurs it did have banana skin written all over it.
So it came as a bit of a surprise the way things started in the first leg of the Europa League qualifier away at Hearts. Spurs came out of the block like we know they can while the opposition, where most would be expecting a bit of tight clodhopping, laid off and let those in white play. At times in the first half it looked like Hearts were down reduced in numbers, though 9 not 10, with the amount of space and time Spurs had to play.
Indication of things to come started early with a lovely chip over the Hearts backline to the onrushing Bale. Didn’t have long to wait for the opening goal, less than 5 minutes in. After some good linking a bit of pinball between Defoe, van der Vaart, hapless Hearts defender and the Dutchman was through to slot it home.
Need a second, not long to wait, Defoe starts it just outside his own box, out to van der Vaart who was running the game – looking a bit fitter, even with an injury during the summer, should benefit from a proper off season with a bit of rest – Lennon’s out on the left – what’s he doing there? – he cuts inside – what else – plays it to vdV, who cushions it back and Lennon puts a great ball through the centre of Hearts defence, where Defoe’s first touch is maybe heavier than he intended but it works out well giving him more space and time to finish what he started.
Something actually came of Bale and Lennon swapping wings!
Still only two, it’s Spurs after all. Assou-Ekotto, who strolled through most of the game with that calm assuredness that just pisses all over Alan Hansen’s chips, into the rampant vdV, onto Livermore, who was quietly doing the job required, one-two with Defoe and the youngster is again through the heart of the Hearts defence. At this pint Livermore takes an extra touch, sometimes the side of someone panicking, lacking self belief or not of the highest level but this slight touch with the outside of his foot was different as it just took the ball away from the lunging centreback before it was quickly dispatched into the net.
This is one thing the Europa League can be for this season in bringing through the youngsters. It worked here, admittedly again against a weak side who didn’t press.
There could have been more, should have been more, in a totally dominant first half. Quite a number of nearly balls, would have been great if not just cut out by a stretching leg or head.
Second half started the way most would have expected the first half to. Spurs taking things casually, losing possession far too easily while Hearts were finally giving those in white no time of space.
A number of Hearts corners brought some flapping from Gomes and a bit of anxiety but with them pressing forward they were always vulnerable to a side with pace. It took a bit of time, Huddlestone who had replaced vdV lofted one of his trademark balls over the backline to the onrushing Bale – I’m sure I’ve read that before somewhere – again it’s through the middle – I’m sure I’ve read that before somewhere – and the Welshman rounds the ‘keeper to make it 4.
The fifth was a classic piece of counter attacking. From the Spurs box Lennon lays it off to the charging Townsend – who came on for Bale – the youngster plays a great ball through to Defoe who puts in the perfect cross for Lennon to finish off what he started with a nice open the body guide to the corner of the net.
Could have been more as this was a cruise that showed what is the difference between the two leagues, the home side were outclassed by a far better side. Should make the return leg at The Lane a formality, a chance to give the youngsters another chance and not a distraction from the main event.
Livermore and Townsend showed enough, again admittedly against weak opposition. The latter adds to the left sided players that Spurs now have – Assou-Ekotto, Bale & Rose – after all those years filling in with makeshifts. Somehow no matter how well both Livermore and Kranjcar bossed the midfield I can’t quite see them as the two to face ManUre in the first league fixture away on Monday.
Bale looks fit, Lennon sharp, a decent looking rightback in Walker, Assou-Ekotto has the swagger, Dawson and Kaboul beasts, van der Vaart fit and in his pomp and Defoe looked sharp to a certain extent.
It’s finally started but roll on the real thing…