Erik Lamela's Tottenham Hotspur career has thus far been heavily weighed down by the record transfer fee hanging around his neck, but on Saturday he showed the Spurs faithful just what Daniel Levy paid all that money for.
Spurs started brightly, going ahead early from another! Harry Kane goal. The lead didn't last long though, as a long range wonder strike from Ashley Barnes pegged Spurs back almost immediately. But despite good performances from Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane, and Nacer Chadli, none of the usual suspects managed to put Spurs back in front. This week, supporters got to see a new goal scoring hero emerge at the Lane.
Erik Lamela won the game with his first ever Premier League goal, and my what a scrumtrulescent strike it was. Lamela received the ball wide on the right, before cutting inside and creating space for himself to hit a beautiful curler into the opposite upper 90 of the net. Tom Heaton never had a chance. The goal was spookily reminiscent of those scored by Spurs' former number eleven, and for a man who has seen Bale's shadow loom large over his nascent Spurs career so far, scoring a Bale-esque game winner seems fitting.
Of course the eerie similarities don't stop there:
It took Bale 26 games to get his first win for us. It took Lamela 26 games to get his first league goal for us. Both games were vs Burnley.— Spurs In The Blood. (@SpursInTheBlood) December 21, 2014
Both Bale and his replacement broke their curses by sacrificing Burnley in their 26th match? There's no stopping the Lamela train now!
Even beyond his wonderful match winner, Lamela put in an excellent shift. He drove the team forward with excellent runs from the right and combined really well with the thankfully returned Kyle Walker. His defensive work rate was excellent as usual, but this time he managed to win challenges instead of give away dumb fouls. In the past he's been a little ponderous on the ball, taking eight touches when one was plenty, but on Saturday his passing was sharp and decisive. He looked comfortable with the ball at his feet and beat his man several times, once breaking deep into the box to play a gorgeous ball across the face of goal that should have resulted in Kane's second of the match (lo, had Paulinho been waiting with backheel poised).
The one possible criticism of Lamela's game is that he did make the giveaway that led to Burnley's equalizer, but the team had numerous opportunities to win the ball back before Barnes stuck it in the back of the net that it would be incredibly harsh to single out Lamela for blame.
All in all, the man called Coco played with the hunger and purpose that you expect from a match winner. Although we've seen it in flashes (helloooooo rabona) this was the first league match where Lamela really looked like a guy you could count on to pull the team out of the fire and make dangerous attacks happen. Let's hope this becomes a pattern.