Streetwise Monaco hand Spurs a painful lesson
Tottenham 1 Monaco 2
Published 15/09/2016 | 02:30
This was a special night that will always be part of Tottenham Hotspur's history, a night when 85,011 people came to Wembley to watch them in the Champions League, the highest home attendance by any English club.
But when the game started and the points were at stake, it could not have gone much worse.
This result makes their prospects of qualifying from Group E so much harder. Spurs dominated much of this game but ultimately they were taught a lesson in the efficiency, discipline and nerve required in this competition.
Spurs created enough chances but could only score one of them. Monaco converted both of theirs.
It was a reminder that you cannot expect an exciting young team to play with the maturity of an old one.
The problem is that all of the enthusiasm and atmosphere of the evening could not bridge the gap in experience between the sides.
Spurs looked desperately lacking in nous. That is why they gifted Monaco a 2-0 lead that was absurd on the balance of play. For all of Spurs' possession, they were not alert enough to keep out Monaco when they broke forward.
Erik Lamela lost a loose ball to Fabinho in the middle of the pitch, and when he played in Bernardo Silva, who ghosted away from Ben Davies, and with Jan Vertonghen backing off, accepted the invitation to drive the ball into the far corner.
The next time Monaco ventured forward Spurs were even more hospitable. Joao Moutinho easily made space for Djibril Sidibe to cross, and Davies could not clear the ball at the near post. It fell to Thomas Lemar, in too much room, and he lashed it into the net.
To their credit, Spurs did not fold, and continued to push up until the break. They were rewarded when Toby Alderweireld headed in Lamela's corner, an atmosphere-changing goal. When Dele Alli nearly converted Lamela's cross in added time, a positive result felt possible again.
That optimism was catalysed further when Mauricio Pochettino brought on Mousa Dembele at half-time. With Alli pushed further forward, Spurs were more dangerous. When Kane pulled away from Jemerson he should have got his shot away quicker, but gave the Brazilian time to recover.
The problem was that this felt like Spurs' moment and they could not take advantage of it.
Monaco found their defensive stability again and Spurs knew that they had to go more direct.
That meant taking off Lamela, their best creative player, for Vincent Janssen, a second striker who is still finding his feet. He broke down the right with his first real action to make a great chance for Kane, but he shot straight at the keeper from close range.
But the longer the game went on the more comfortable Monaco were.
By the end it was all a bit desperate, snatching at shots from distance, and Monaco could close out the win with some ease. Spurs have a lot to learn, and not much time to learn it. (© Independent News Service)