The Erik Lamela show overshadowed by one

Tottenham Hotspur 2 - 1 FC Sheriff Tiraspol - Europa League Group K - November 7th, 2013


As Spurs beat Sheriff to confirm qualification from the Europa League group phase one man deserve all the headlines and plaudits but it’s another who did nothing bar one kick that got ’em.

Things hadn’t gone quite right for Erik Lamela so far at Spurs. Things did seem to take a turn for the better in last week’s League Cup outing when he really grew into the game, then he missed the only Spurs’ penalty of the shoot-out. Exactly what he didn’t need. Hoping it wouldn’t have a negative effect on his confidence.

Minutes into the home tie against FC Sheriff Tiraspol it was obvious it hadn’t dented his self belief but his luck was still non-existent, as he was scythed down just outside the Sheriff area only for the ref to wave play-on. Then when he jinked inside the box on another dribble he was again taken down and again the ref gave nothing for a stonewall foul.

He was the only player for the home team that was doing much really. Good runs, good touches, but very little was being created by the side in white. While the visitors were doing what they did in the reverse fixture, soaking it all in and then breaking quickly.

Sheriff could have been two up very early and very easily. Kaboul just getting a block on their first attempt and then Sheriff missing a sitter after Eriksen gave away an awful, sloppy pass, square ball just outside his own area. It summed up his night and a lot of the rest. Too sloppy, too lazy, too above this sort of thing. The likes of Townsend and Holtby have used the Europa to get their way into the first XI for the league, only Lamela was doing so here. Eriksen certainly wasn’t doing anything to get his place back from Holtby.

It was an hour in before Lamela’s luck finally changed for the better. Another run, good pass to Eriksen who tried to find Paulinho in the box with a nothing ball really, Lamela had carried on his run and the ball luckily fell perfectly to bang it in with his left.

Joy, relief and just rewards.

Wasn’t long until we saw what that money really buys. A glorious dribble past a number of Sheriff players having a hack in the area finally found one that succeeded this time the ref actually gave the rightful penalty.

Oh Jermain Defoe, where did he come from? Oh he’s playing, when did he come on? Oh, he started. Never saw him. He takes a good penalty and you knew that Lamela’s performance would ridiculously be overshadowed by Defoe breaking Big Chiv’s European goal scoring record.

At two nil Spurs were even more casual and even more above this type of thing, while Sheriff had nothing to lose and as had shown over the two games the ability to get something. Not long after they produced it as slack defending saw a number in white shirts stand around and watch as Isa reacted brilliantly with a great finish from Friedel’s parry. The big Yank is getting some stick but it was more the likes of Walker who just stopped following his man when he reached the 16 yard box.

Walker was somewhat typical of the whole team performance. Lazy and slack in that incident and slow, ponderous and predictable at other times. Bar two occasions when a crossing opportunity he stopped the ball giving the defence time to close him down and cut off his options. The twice he banged in immediate crosses he created confusion in the Sheriff defence.

Naughton on the other side just did nothing. Eriksen was woeful. Dembele shuffled away from every attempt to take the ball off him, he can’t half keep possession, he just passed it sideways a bit too much. He had one shot which went close, why not have more, he’s capable. Was good to see Capoue back, given an hour, he did the defensive job we know he can.

It was just another of those frustrating victories we’ve seen of late. The bright spot being the emergence of Lamela as the player we knew we were getting no matter what had happened in those bit part games so far. But of course Defoe scored so it’s all about him.

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