from another borefest embarrassment.
Spurs first Champions League outing of the season was heading for an uninspiring stalemate against 10 men until the Brazilian new boy popped up with his first two goals for the club.
So this campaign started much in the same way as Spurs league games have started. With an almost indifferent approach from players as they barely get out of first gear, while inviting the opposition on them, obviously with the goal of breakaways but messing them up at every opportunity.
Conte went with the same starting XI as the last league game, bar Perisic replacing Sessegnon – a change most were calling for.
The first half went the way so many have this season, badly. It looked like was going to have to be another turn it around in the second 45. Spurs looked to be given a massive lift with Marseilles being reduced to 10 men just two minutes into the second half.
After some nice one touch, get it forward play, Kane played the ball through to the advancing Son, who as taken out before he could get to the box. It was an obvious red card. There could be no argument.
Though, was it a goal scoring opportunity? Well, with the way Son has been playing and was playing in this game, probably not. And is that the problem withe Conte’s breakaway tactics? One of the greatest exponents of this style, is now the weak link in trying to make it work. Sonny looks completely devoid, devoid of confidence, devoid of a clue what to do when he has the ball. He’s either passing it too quickly, and poorly, or more often than not hanging onto the ball too much and having it taken off him, or blocked with ease.
There’s none of the decisiveness that saw him get the Golden boot last season. Think of the winner in the first game last season against City. You just can’t see him scoring that presently.
But even against 10 men, Spurs struggled. Never getting that foothold. Life was brought to proceedings on the hour when Conte finally brought Kulusevski on and finally did so for Emerson. How long have I been calling for that switch? Anyway, Kulu looked like a man who wanted to get back in that starting XI, after you would say his unfair benching. In a few minutes on the pitch he’d provided more than the others had in that previous hour.
But with time running out, under 20 minutes left, and it still nil-nil, at home against 10 men, Conte made two more changes and replaced two defenders with… two defenders. Tanganga making his first appearance of the season coming on with Davies to replace Lenglet and Romero.
Now I don’t think this played a major role but it wasn’t long until a huge sigh of relief as the first goal was scored. 76 minutes in and from Perisic’s excellent, right-footed, cross Richarlison headed Spurs attempt on target, past the keeper. It was a cracking header for his first goal for the club.
His second just a few minutes later was almost a carbon copy, this time after a corner, the cross came in from Hojbjerg, a little further out and there was more players about Richarlison, than that first one but again he powered the header home.
It saved the day for Conte, because they were so lifeless before Kulusevski’s arrival and didn’t look like scoring for much of that game. I mean a whole half against 10 men and those two goals account for the only two attempts on goal they managed all night.
Still it’s a victory… it’s three points and it’s a good start to this campaign… but things have to get better, surely…