Tottenham Hotspur are comfortably through to the group stage of the Europa League and are heading into the North London Derby with a bit of momentum. Even though Andre Villas-Boas picked a heavily rotated side, Spurs had no problem downing Dinamo Tbilisi 3-0, winning the tie 8-0 on aggregate.
The first half was light on chances for both teams until the final five minutes, when Spurs finally found their footing and took advantage of some lax defending with a couple of goals just before the break. Jermain Defoe scored in the 40th minute from just inside the box, assisted by Lewis Holtby, then completed a brace five minutes later. The second goal was set up by Gylfi Sigurdsson, who played an exchange with Andros Townsend on the right flank before crossing for Defoe, who tapped in from six yards.
Holtby added a goal of his own in the 69th minute, hitting a gorgeous strike from 20 yards off a layoff by Tom Carroll. Spurs were well in control until the end of the match and should have had a late penalty, but the referee booked Defoe for diving instead, denying him a potential hat trick.
- Four games, four clean sheets.
- Younes Kaboul looks ready to start at the highest level right now. Obviously Dinamo Tbilisi aren't the best competition, but he didn't even look the slightest bit rusty.
- Sandro's game was a bit different. He was very solid and should be ready to start big games soon, but he didn't look quite as sharp as Kaboul did.
- Kyle Naughton had another spotless game. He's improved.
- Tom Carroll started hot, cooled off, then got into the game again midway through the second half and set up Lewis Holtby's goal. I think that a loan spell to a relegation battling Premier League team or a good foreign club is what he needs at the moment.
- Lewis Holtby was not great in the first half-hour of the game, but was brilliant in the final hour. He just needed some time to shake the rust off. He's going to be a good player for Spurs this season. I'm confident about it.
- Gylfi Sigurdsson had a mostly poor game with flashes of brilliance. That kind of seems like his thing now.
- It was great to see Jermain Defoe get a start and a couple of goals. He's still a great sub/backup for us and I hope we hang onto him this year despite the (mostly unsourced and #batcountry) rumors floating around about us nabbing another forward.
- Harry Kane's substitute appearance was uneventful, unfortunately.
- Defoe got booked for a dive on a clear penalty when up 8-0. In the 90th minute. Because people dive for penalties when up 8-0.
- There's a random draw to decide which losing team takes Fener's place in the draw tomorrow, so Dinamo Tbilisi could stay alive in the competition despite their 8-0 aggregate loss.