Despite going down to ten men when the score was 2-0, Spurs were able to outplay their opponents 10 v 11 for the final half hour of the game to record a 4-1 victory. The game was highlighted by the impressive play of Gareth Bale, the incredibly up and down performance of Rafael van der Vaart, and Twente's mistakes along the back line.
The first half saw a number of chances that were either poorly finished or saved well by the teams' respective goalkeepers, Gomes and Nikolay Mihaylov. It appeared that the scoring was going to be opened when Peter Crouch was hauled down in the box in the 39th minute, resulting in a penalty kick. Rafael van der Vaart stepped up to take the penalty for Spurs after a variety of shenanigans and ultimately had his shot saved by Mihaylov.
The teams went into halftime scoreless despite both of them having plenty of opportunity to score. As a result, neither coach made any kind of serious halftime adjustments as far as personnel and formation, but it was obvious that Spurs came out of the locker room with an entirely different attitude.
In the 46th minute, not too long after kickoff, van der Vaart made up for his penalty kick error by scoring on a fantastic half volley finish from 12 yards out after a great first touch. After a first half that included a penalty miss and multiple quality shots that were saved from open play, it was a well deserved goal for van der Vaart. The goal put Spurs up 1-0 and seemed to raise their confidence immensely.
Only six minutes later, Gareth Bale was hauled down in the box and Spurs were granted another penalty. This time, Roman Pavlyuchenko stepped up to take the kick and converted without a problem to give Spurs a 2-0 lead.
Almost immediately afterwards, Twente made the score 2-1 off of a set piece. A comedic succession of errors by the Spurs defense left young winger Nacer Chadli wide open at the far post as the ball fell to his feet, and he coolly slotted the ball into the back of the net to bring the visitors within one goal.
In the 61st minute, things got a little complicated for the hosts. Rafael van der Vaart completed a ridiculous hat trick of accomplishments, adding a sending off to his missed penalty and world class goal. van der Vaart and Spurs would have no complaints as both of van der Vaart's yellow cards were clear-cut cardable offenses and the referee was left with no choice but to send him off.
Ultimately, Spurs' personnel deficiency wouldn't matter. In the 64th minute, the hosts were given their third penalty kick of the game. The first two were clear-cut fouls in the box that gave the referee no choice but to award the penalty, but the third was granted due to a handball that appeared to be unintentional. Regardless, Pavlyuchenko stepped up again and made the score 3-1.
With a two goal lead and only ten men on the pitch, Spurs proceeded to try to keep possession and defend deep to deny Twente any scoring opportunities, a tactic that was largely successful.
In the 85th minute, Gareth Bale put the icing on the cake with a fantastic near post finish on a breakaway goal. That goal made the score 4-1, and that would be the score at the final whistle.
Spurs gained a much needed three points in this match and after Werder Bremen's demolition at the hands of Inter Milan, Spurs now look like favorites to finish second in the group and advance to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. However, their fate may depend on whether or not they are able to get any points from either of their hosts against Inter, the group favorites and defending champions.
Later today, I'll have a post up previewing the match against Aston Villa with 7500 to Holte's Kirsten Schlewitz. Basically, we're going to have an instant message conversation about the match and format it to work as a blog post, so that should be super duper interesting. Tomorrow, I'll have a more conventional preview with more opinionated thoughts on the match against Twente and our team selection going forward, as well as an assortment of Spurs links for your reading pleasure.