Monday 20 November 2017

Soldado treble keeps Spurs in good spirits

Tottenham 4 Anzhi 1

Roberto Soldado scores a penalty to complete his hat trick against Anzhi Makhachkala
Roberto Soldado scores a penalty to complete his hat trick against Anzhi Makhachkala

Europa League - Tottenham needed a performance more than a result at White Hart Lane, but they got both thanks to an excellent Roberto Soldado hat-trick and wonderful Lewis Holtby finish.

Spurs are still evolving, but this was one of their best attacking displays of the season, showing a new fluency throughout.

Even with first place in Group K long assured, this was never going to be a meaningless game for Tottenham. There are still so many questions about systems and selection and every match can provide crucial clues.

Although Andre Villas-Boas made seven changes from Saturday's win, this was no second string, including as it did Soldado, Erik Lamela and Etienne Capoue, players who will surely be regulars once they settle.

From that perspective, the first half started very well. To accommodate Lamela, Andros Townsend moved on to the left, and after five minutes he won a free-kick there from Abdul Razak. Gylfi Sigurdsson whipped it in and Soldado managed to flick it with his head in off the inside of the far post.

The second goal -- which will have pleased Villas-Boas even more -- soon followed. Lamela drifted in from the right and played a delightful reverse pass to Soldado, who smacked the ball into the far bottom corner.

Then Anzhi, out of nowhere, pulled a goal back, Ewerton evading Kyle Naughton at the far post to stab in a corner.

Spurs had no need to be worried, and scored a brilliant third 10 minutes into the second half. Townsend chipped through to Holtby, running into the box. He cushioned the ball before lifting it with the outside of his foot over the 'keeper.

Soldado nearly headed in a Ryan Fredericks cross, before the pair combined again, the young right-back bursting forward and winning the penalty which Soldado converted.

Lamela nearly scored twice, first with a header, then a low shot before Holtby had a 30-yard shot palmed wide as the game drew to a close.

Irish Independent

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