looked classy as they eased through to the knock-out stage as group
winners against a disappointing Dinamo Bucharest outfit with a 3-1
The passing and movement of
the Spurs players left Dinamo trailing in their wake for the most part
and the fact that they had beaten both Beskitas and Bayer Leverkusen
seemed hard to believe when compared to this performance.
Tottenham's approach and play was spot on and left the fans purring
about the chances of going all the way in the competition.
From the opening attack, when Dimitar Berbatov
miscued a volley to Ghaly's cross, it looked as though Spurs were
definitely up for it. After two minutes, Hayeu in the Bucharest
goal had made a diving save to fist aside a Tom Huddlestone pile-driver
from 30 yards out. With Assou-Ekotto pushing up on the left and
Chimbonda on the right, it gave Spurs a lot of width and Zokora picked
out the left back with an astute pass and the cross found Defoe, who got
a shot on goal, but the keeper saved well.
With a quarter of an hour gone, there seemed
like a good chance, when Berbatov turned on the edge of the box, but
failed to connect properly and the ball bobbled through to Hayeu.
The Romanian strode out and threw to one of his defenders, but he must
not have seen Berba there, as the Bulgarian stuck out a leg to stop the
ball, controlled it and lashed it past the goalie with such force that
he hardly had time to move. Berbatov just stood there at first and
then put his hand over his mouth in mock embarrassment at the ease in
which the chance had been presented.
Chances continued to come, as Spurs broke down
the visitors moves with ease and then launched attacks off the back of
that. Lennon and Ghaly linked to set up Defoe for a shot that
Hayeu did well to touch onto the crossbar and then a couple of minutes
afterwards, he had a shot deflected away for a corner. In between,
Cristea fired a low drive on target and Robinson had to fall sharply to
keep it out and was lucky the loose ball in front of goal did not fall
to a Romanian boot.
Credit to their fans, who kept singing all
night and there were more of them than Boro supporters just nine days
ago. However, they had little to sing about. Berbatov got in
the way of a Huddlestone shot that bounced to safety off his foot, then
Hayeu saved low down from Ghaly. When Paul Robinson fielded a shot
from Danciulescu, little did we know it would lead to goal number two.
He kicked a flat ball through the middle of the pitch to Jermain Defoe
and the little striker, just inside the Bucharest half, turned, quickly
burst past his marker and then as the goalie came out, slipped the ball
low into the net to double the advantage. It was a very well taken
goal and one that was started by a quick piece of thinking by ENO.
Defoe was denied again just before the break,
as he looked really sharp. His low shot turned goalwards from
Lennon's cross was kept out at the foot of the post by the Dinamo
Five minutes the other side of the interval,
the game was over. Zokora fed Berbatov in the right hand channel
by Chimbonda's pass and he unselfishly passed to Ghaly on the left of
the box. He in turn set up a shooting opportunity for Lennon, but
the keeper denied him, only to find Jermain latch onto the loose ball
and knock it back past him into the net for 3-0.
Lennon was starting to enjoy himself and was
roaming across the pitch in search of where he could do most damage.
One left wing cross was almost sliced into his own goal by a defender,
but the ball looped kindly into the goalie's hands and later his cross
to Chimbonda, saw the French full back leap well and wrap his head
around the ball, but it went wide. The winger had a shot blocked
for a corner and from the resulting set piece the ball was played back
to Didier Zokora, who rifled in a fierce shot that the keeper was happy
to punch out. Hayeu could do nothing about the Hud drive from 22
yards that fizzed past his post a minute later.
When Calum Davenport came on for Ledley King,
it looked as though Spurs had settled for the scoreline they had, but
with his first two touches of the ball, the central defender could have
added two goals !! Assou-Ekotto took a free-kick on the right hand
corner of the box and took it low past the wall, but saw it come back
off the post with the keeper beaten. Davenport was onto it though
and his touch could not force the ball over the line as it came to him
quickly. However, the ball was kept alive and Malbranque produced
a back-heel that took Davenport clear of the last defender inside the
box and his shot was well tipped up and over by the goalie.
The keeper was riding his luck and when Ghaly
played the ball back to Berbatov after a lovely piece of skill on the
right of the box, he managed to get something on the ball that took it
just wide for yet another corner.
The last word was left for Dinamo, who barely
deserved a consolation, as they had been poor almost throughout the
team. When a shot by Cristea hit a fellow forward, it ran kindly
into the path of JP Mendy, who stroked it low into the net for a goal
that meant nothing in the context of the match or the group, but
probably meant a lot to him.
For long periods of the second half, Spurs had
been stroking the ball about between them and looked more than
comfortable. In the next stage, the matches will get harder with
some strong teams in the pool of third placed group sides we could face.
But then we can still step our game up a bit and the next few months in
Europe (as well as at home) will be an interesting time.