OPPONENTS Asteras Tripolis (Greece)
DATE Thursday 23rd October 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






Although Asteras come into this game as table toppers in our group, I know little about them beyond what I got from the UEFA site. 

In the top flight of Greek football for only the last eight years, they have been top six for the last three and their squad has a large contingent of Argentine players in it, so Mauricio Pochettino might have some knowledge of them through his contacts.  Well organised by their young manager, Asteras beat Partizan Belgrade and drew with Besiktas, giving them four points over Tottenham and Besiktas' two draws apiece.

The Greek side like to play 4-2-3-1, so the two sides formations might cancel each other out, but they have attacking full backs and like to play the ball up to their front man quickly.  They have a strapping defender in Dorin Goain, a Romanian team-mate of Vlad Chirches in the national team, who is over six feet tall, but he is carrying a knock and at 33, he might struggle against nippier players. 

Spurs need to put a win on the boar din this competition, but it will not be as simple a task as they might have hoped for.  There were signs of good movement and inter-play at Manchester City, but the cutting out of the errors that are costing us goals and the conversion of good play into goals is one which the team are yet to realise on a regular basis.  It will be a test of the manager's belief in Roberto Soldado as to whether he plays in this match, with Sunday's meeting with Newcastle United ahead.

Additionally, he has to work out how to get Erik Lamela into the positions he used to find when playing for Roma.  Other players might get a run out, but will need to show Poch that they are worthy of further games in this competition or even in the Premier league.

It could be a testing night for all concerned, but I hope that they can got out and win it in style for Andy Porter.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    3         Asteras Tripolis    0
Spurs will be missing Nabil Bentaleb (ankle), Kyle Naughton (ankle) and Kyle Walker (hip) for this match.

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Tottenham Hotspur  5 (2)                                                                        Asteras Tripolis  1 (0)
Europa League
Thursday 23rd October 2014                                                                                                                             Kick off 20:05
White Hart Lane
Kane 13m 23s
Lamela 29m 08s
Lamela 66m 24s
Kane 75m 11s
Kane 81m 06s
Barrales 89m 28s

Lloris (foul on Tsokanis) 87

Panteliadis (foul on Townsend) 37


Crowd :   21,428 Weather :  Mild, dry
Referee :  Ivan Kružliak (Slovakia) Assistant Referees :  Tomaš Somolani; Tomaš Mokoš (Slovakia)
Fourth Official :  Ondrej Brendza (Slovakia) Additional Assistants : - Richard Trutz; Vladimir Vnuk (Slovakia)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Asteras Tripolis : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS     

15  Eric DIER
21  Federico FAZIO
33  Ben DAVIES

29  Etienne CAPOUE
19  Mousa DEMBELE

17  Andros TOWNSEND  (  7  Aaron LENNON 83)
11  Erik LAMELA      (23  Christian ERKSEN)
18  Harry KANE     

10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR  (22  Nacer CHADLI 77)

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM

25  Benjamin STAMBOULI
  9  Roberto SOLDADO

    1  Tomas KOSICKY

  3  Thanasis PANTELIADIS     
13  Giorios ZISPOULOS
15  Khalifa SANKERE

  5  Juan MUNAFO

10  Martin ROLLE  (  9  Jeronimo BARRALES 73  )
  8  Fernando USERO (c)
19  Tasos TSOKANIS
  7  Pabli MAZZA (14  Tasos BAKASETAS 82)

23  Facundo PARRA (11  Nicolas FERNANDEZ 80)

Unused subs: 

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  -  Staikos Vergetis
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  ΛOTTO
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

A night which ended with Spurs with only ten men and a hat-trick hero in goal was played out in front of a 2/3 full White Hart Lane, as the side won 5-1 against group leaders Asteras Tripolis in a win which brought memories of Glory Glory Nights of Bill Nicholson's reign at Tottenham.  But in truth, it was not a glory, glory night, as this game means little in the great scheme of the Europa League other than one more win might be enough to see Spurs through.  And that is the shame of this competition which grew out of the UEFA Cup, a trophy which was hard won against top teams, perhaps making it more difficult to win than the European Cup because of the quality of teams in it from a number of countries.

Now, the same trophy has been re-named and is only contested by sides who don't make the other competition, but are then pitched in with those teams when they are not deemed good enough to stay in the Champions League.   There will generally be two matches of note in a group against the nearest competitor in quality, while the other four matches are a battle for the minnows to gain a point or a (very) shock win.  The lack of importance riding on these games points to the reason why so many season ticket holders choose not to attend and why even those who crave to attend every home match when our new shiny stadium is built can't bring themselves to go to games like this.  It will be a chilly and quiet place with that many in a 56,000 capacity ground.  21,00 for a European game would frankly have Bill Nick looking down in incredulity. 

But for those who didn't attend, they missed a moment of magic to rank with Gazza's FA Cup semi-final free-kick and Ginola's run and goal at Barnsley in the same competition.  It was a moment that we all watch football for ... and you can say I was there !!  Erik Lamela has been getting more playing time this season and his confidence is growing.  As evidenced by what he did in this match.

Changes, as ever, were made for this match with the Greeks looking to maintain their unbeaten start to their group campaign after two games.  And they looked like doing so in the early stages.  A fifth minute ball out from the back eluded Capoue's stretch and allowed Mazza to get away down their right.  However, as he reached the edge of the area, he snatched at the shot and pulled the ball across Hugo's goal and it went well wide.  With Kane picked as one of the three in attacking midfield, he was finding space to get his shots away and his first of the night flew past the post with Kosicky stranded.  With his second, he gave Spurs the lead in the 14th minute. The ball was worked around the penalty area and Etienne Capoue passed it short to the striker, just to the right of centre and he drilled a low shot past the keeper from 25 yards out, going in off the post.  It was a good strike and taking the effort early didn't allow the keeper to set himself for a save.

With 19 minutes gone, Lloris had to run out of the D to head the ball clear as Tsonakis tried to get on the end of a delicate ball through form Rolle, in what was to be a pre-cursor for an incident later in the match.  But at the other end, a neat passing move between Capoue, Adebayor and Kane set up Etienne in the box, but Kosicky came out to deny the Frenchman as he looked to nick a goal, but Tottenham were grateful that Zisopoulos' free header from Rolle's free-kick looped back across goal, but looped over the bar too.  It could easily have been 1-1, when Tsonakis played a pass over the Tottenham back line and Panteliadis got there before Lloris and only Ben Davies' intervention blocked the defender's effort being forced over the line.

Spurs then broke to the other end and Lamela scored one of the most outrageous goals the Lane has ever seen.  Harry Kane played the ball to Adebayor on the 18 yard line, but he was surrounded by defenders, one of whom got a toe to the ball and it ran to the left where Erik was standing.  Showing thinking quicker than seemingly humanly possible, he produced what is called a 'Rabona'.  This is where a player kicks the ball with his foot wrapped behind his standing leg.  More often seen in players crossing the ball, Lamela executed this perfectly to beat the keeper from the edge of the area and put Tottenham 2-0 ahead after 29 minutes.  The crowd gasped when it was replayed on the big screens and the midfielder was showing just what he can be capable of.

The last decent action of the half saw Vertonghen knock the ball long was gathered by Andros, who found Adebayor with a good pass.  In turn, he passed to Kane, who laid a shot on for Townsend, with the ball curling just wide of the Greek goal.  It was one of another three he tried in the first half, with one bringing a low save out of Kosicky, while the other two missed the target.

The talk of half-time was Lamela's goal and there was a half-time tribute to Bill Nicholson from Alan Mullery, with a respectful mention of Club Historian Andy Porter's passing.  Erik's goal was something that Andy would have appreciated, as would have Bill Nick, but he might also have pointed out that the Argentine should have completed a simple pass to put Townsend away a couple of minutes before his wonder strike.

The second half looked like it might be a procession, but while it didn't quite turn out like that, Spurs did have a chance to get players on the ball and the Pochettino style an opportunity to develop.  Lamela had an early volley blocked and at the other end Dier got in the way of a shot from distance by Usero.  The Greeks didn't hesitate to have a shot, from wherever they were and while most were off target, it was the odd ones that did find their aim that which gave Spurs problems later.  There was a spell of about five minutes where Asteras didn't quite dominate, but they did exert some pressure around the Tottenham box, but their final ball lacked accuracy and the home defence managed to repel the attacks.

When Spurs managed to break into the Greek's half, they did so with good result.  Lamela played Ade the ball on the left wing and the Togo man played a ball into the path of Kane to hit a shot from 20 yards out, that Kosicky dived to ground to hold, then Panteliadis headed away a dangerous cross from Townsend.  Then in the 66th minute, Erik won the ball on the left hand side and exchanged passes with Harry Kane.  Lamela's first shot was blocked, with the ball spinning high into the air in the box, but he was quickest to react and he hit a volley that beat the keeper at his near post, when he might have done better.

With a three goal lead, the match was won, but it was interesting to see if Spurs would settle for that or continue to go for goals.  As it was, they needed the agility of Hugo Lloris to preserve that lead.  Just three minutes after the goal, Rolle played a delicate lofted ball into the box and the captain Usero ran onto it, meeting it with a volley right off his laces about 10 yards out.  With Lloris exposed and looking like he might be going the wrong way, he contorted in mid-air and managed to get his left hand to the ball and push it wide.  It was a truly magnificent save and once more emphasised that Tottenham will do well to hang onto this top class keeper.

The sides traded attacks and Asteras brought on Jeronimo Barrales for one last hurrah, but it was Tottenham who moved further ahead in the 89th minute.  Mousa Dembele had started the game slowly, but as it went on, his dribbling got more effective and his passing sharper, so, when he received a short corner from Lamela, he wriggled into a shooting position and fired a low shot that was straight at Kosicky.  The Greek keeper couldn't hold it though and when it ran loose, Harry was on hand to knock it into the net from close range.

The goal saw the last of the action for Adebayor and Lamela, as Chadli and Eriksen came on in their place.  The play wasn't affected by the changes and Dembele was unlucky to see a shot deflected just wide soon after the substitutions.  As Spurs kept attacking, it was with just about ten minutes left that Kane got through on the left and looked to complete his hat-trick with a low shot, but the goalkeeper blocked it out on the other side of the pitch.  Fazio, who had been up with the attack retrieved it and dinked in a great cross to the far post, where Harry had found his run into space timed to perfection, allowing him to nod the ball home for his treble.  It was a well deserved hat-trick for the England Under-21 forward.

So, 5-0 and not a lot to worry about in the remaining nine minutes then ?  Well, not quite.  Another ball through the Spurs defence released Tsonakis 30 yards out.  As he approached the penalty area, Hugo raced out and thought about standing the midfielder up, but collided with him just outside the box.  Fazio appeared to be getting in behind him, but the ref brought out the red card and as Poch had brought on Lennon for Townsend  just a few minutes before, all three subs had been used.   Therefore, one of the outfield players had to go in goal and it was Kane who volunteered to take the gloves.

The first thing he had to do was organise the wall for the free-kick just out towards the left corner of the area.  Jeronimo shaped up to take it and hit it to the left of the wall, low towards the corner of the goal.  It looked like Kane had it covered, but the ball bounced just in front of him (about four times) and somehow it squirmed through his dive and ended up in the net.  Just like Spurs to not keep a clean sheet !!

Spurs were looking to hold the bal for the remainder of the match, but when Asteras had the ball, they went for power in trying to beat Kane, but that meant they lost the accuracy and he only had one ball to field before the final whistle.

It was a good performance by Spurs, with an indication that some things are starting to come together, but Asteras were not a great test.  Nobody played terribly, but Adebayor was poor tonight and while Soldado didn't make it off the bench, at least he wouldn't have been offside as often as Ade.  The defence played a little loose and allowed Asteras more chances than they could afford against a top side, so there is still a little tightening up there to do.  But it was a better performance than the other two so far in the Europa League and it will serve to boost the confidence ahead of Newcastle's visit on Sunday.

Kirk Hammerton




Asteras Tripolis was named after a star that was seen shooting over Tripoli.

The Greek team were playing non-league football only 11 years ago and competed just up the road to White Hart Lane at Donkey Lane, when they took on Enfield Town in the Anglo-Greek Urn in 2001.


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What you thought
Gary Sampson Well done Harry Kane on his hat-trick.  He took his goals well, but please let's not have this argument that he is a better bet than Roberto Soldado. 

For a start Kane was not playing the lone striker role which Soldado has to do.  Coming from deep he is running onto the ball rather than playing with his back to goal and thus gets more shots away.

Secondly, he sees a lot more of the ball than Soldado does when he plays.  Playing behind the front man, he finds more space to receive it.

Thirdly, they are different types of players and Soldado scores very few goals form outside the box.

So Kane is OK in that role, but for Soldado to thrive, we need to give him more of the supply he needs in the 18 yard box to score the sort of goals he has done in the past.

- -.



Other scores during this round :
Group A
Borussia Moenchengladbach (GER) 5 Apollon Limassol (CYP) 0 Thursday
Villarreal (SPA) 4 FC Zurich (SWI) 1 Thursday
Group B
Torino (ITA) 2 HJK Helsinki (ICE) 0 Thursday
Club Brugge (BEL) 1 FC Kobenhavn (DEN) 1 Thursday
Group C
Partizan Belgrade (SER) 0 Besiktas (TUR) 4 Thursday
Group D
Glasgow Celtic 2 Astra (ROM) 1 Thursday
Red Bull Salzburg (AUS) 4 Dinamo Belgrade (SER) 2 Thursday
Group E
PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 1 Panathinaikos (GRE) 1 Thursday
Estoril (POR) 1 Dinamo Moscow (RUS) 2 Thursday
Group F
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) 0 Qarabag (AZE) 1 Thursday
Internazionale (ITA) 0 St. Etienne (FRA) 0 Thursday
Group G
HNK Rijeka (CRO) 3 Feyenoord (HOL) 1 Thursday
Standard Liege (BEL) 0 Sevilla (SPA) 0 Thursday
Group H
Lille (FRA) 1 Everton 1 Thursday
Krasnodar (RUS) 2 Wolfsburg (GER) 4 Thursday
Group I
Young Boys Bern (SWI) 2 Napoli (ITA) 0 Thursday
Slovan Bratislava (SLK) 0 Sparta Prague (CZE) 3 Thursday
Group J
Aalborg (DEN) 3 Dinamo Kiev (UKR) 0 Thursday
Steaua Bucaresti (ROM) 2 Rio Ave (POR) 1 Thursday
Group K
PAOK (GRE) 2 Fiorentina (ITA) 1 Thursday
Dinamo Minsk (BLR) 0 Guingamp (FRA) 0 Thursday
Group L
Trabsonspor (TUR) 2 Lokeren (BEL) 0 Thursday
Metalist Kharkiv (UKR) 0 Legia Warsaw (POL) 1 Thursday






League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Besiktas 3 1 2 0 6 2 5 +4
2 Tottenham Hotspur 3 1 2 0 6 2 5 +4
3 Asteras Tripolis 3 1 1 1 5 6 4 -1
4 Partizan Belgrade 3 0 1 2 1 8 1 -7


Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :  2nd


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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