for a match.
Spurs first Europa League group game, at home to LASK, saw them finally saw Harry Kane have a day off as he sat on the substitutes bench for the full game, watching the three nil victory.
Isn’t it amazing what benefits a team gets when you actually buy the players you need the most. Four of those players that they signed over the summer were on show against LASK, with the one luxury purchase, Gareth Bale making his first start for the club on his return, just a couple days since the anniversary of the Champions league game against Inter that put him on the world stage.
I looked at a website for the lineup before the game and the immediate disappointment of seeing Winks name down on the team-sheet was interrupted by the name Alves Morais and the question. Who is Alves Morais? Number 45, is it one of the kids? But no, it’s Carlos Vinicius, making his debut.
Early on he could have… should have made it an even better debut. Ten minutes in a flowing move from Moura to Bale, saw the Welshman play Doherty through, stumbling going through the fullback managed to right himself and from the edge of the box stand up the perfect cross for Vinicius to open his account. But somehow the Brazilian put his header, from the edge of the six yard box, wide.
It’s one of those bad misses from a very simple chance, that he really should have at the very least got on target and really should have scored from that makes you wonder. Hoping it isn’t something he dwells on and it becomes a problem like it seem to do with a number of strikers Spurs have brought in over the last number of years.
Ten minutes later and he showed it wasn’t bothering him that much, if at all. Davies, playing as a centre-back, played a ball down the left, which Vinicius took nicely into his stride and then he played an immediate, no-look, ball into the box, perfectly placed for the on running Moura to finish off for the opener.
Well, if Spurs were looking for someone to take Harry’s place then a striker who holds the ball up and provides killer assists is almost like for like.
That lead was double a few minutes later, when two new boys made their presence felt. Reguilon picking the ball up wide left on the halfway line, charged forward he rode three challenges before playing the ball to Lamela, who took a touch then past it straight to Bale on the right. Bale’s left footed crossed was a nightmare for the defender, just arced enough, he had two choices. Leave it and let Vinicius have a tap-in or go for it and risk the own-goal. He went with the second option.
Bale didn’t have a shot in the hour he was on the pitch but he played his part and it is still exciting to have him back.
But there’s always something to bring you back down and there he was. Winks. The Scrappy Doo of Spurs. Small, annoying, making it almost unbearable to watch. Stupid as well. Yes, like Scrappy jumping in with no thought here was Winks giving away stupid free-kicks. Free-kicks that were totally unnecessary to give away. But free-kicks in the very area from which Spurs conceded two of the goals at the weekend. Free-kicks that were dangerously curled into the box by the LASK player. Free-kicks that cause Spurs problems time and time again.
Luckily Hojbjerg was there to cover for him. Full hero status awarded due to head injury and bandage.
One player I didn’t think was necessary was another goalkeeper. But Hart is showing his worth, mainly through shouting. He kept Davinson Sanchez on his toes all night, kept him from falling asleep. While making the odd save. It’s the one thing he brings, Hugo isn’t the most talkative it seems. Though when hart does that goal-kick to defenders in the box thing, it’s a bit more panic stations than Hugo or Gazzaniga.
LASK had made two changes by half-time and four changes by the start of the second half. Jose waited until the hour was up. Bale, Hojbjerg, Lamela coming off. Son came on and like Harry, I was kinda hoping he would get a rest, though of course he didn’t play during the recent international break. Sissoko was now on for that dream midfield with Winks. And Dele was getting another run out. Not long after and Lo Celso replaced Moura. It was good to have the Argentinian back and he immediately showed his class.
Now come on Jose. Gio and Tanguy together. What a pairing that’ll be.
Vinicius would play the Harry Kane role again as first he laid a chance on for Dele that was just kept out. Looked like Dele was a bit put off by Son probably being offside and not knowing if he himself was on or not. The next time though there was no doubt. A nice cross from Doherty and Vinicius headed the ball down perfectly for Son to put into the bottom corner of the net. It was a Harryesque style assist.
Three nil up and every Spurs fan was thinking. “Well, we should at least get a draw now.”
Shortly after that Vinicius departed for another debut, from Jack Clarke, who instead of going out on another loan has made the UEL squad. And he nearly opened his account. It was a glorious chance and maybe he got a bit excited as he wrapped his foot around a shot that went just wide.
That was the final change. no Harry Kane. He sat on the bench for the whole game. It’s the first time he has featured at all in a game for Spurs this season. And it was great. Finally getting a rest with a striker on there who played his part in making sure Harry wasn’t required on the night. Yes that goal for Vinicius would have made it better but his overall play means for games like this he’s someone you have confidence in.