Tottenham Hotspur are on their way out of the Europa League, and must now treat Sunday's North London Derby as if it were a final. The chances of Spurs winning a trophy this season are almost nil after Benfica defeated them 3-1 at White Hart Lane.
Spurs actually looked decent in the opening half-hour, but couldn't turn their possession into clear chances -- a theme all season under both managers. Another theme this season has been poor communication between defenders, and that was certainly a factor in Kyle Naughton and Jan Vertonghen getting torched by Rodrigo for the opener. Naughton was certainly more at fault for failing to track his run onto Ruben Amorim's long ball, but Vertonghen realized what was happening two seconds late and wasn't in any position to help.
Once again, Spurs started the second half strong, but failed to make anything out of their decent play and eventually conceded. Emmanuel Adebayor missed a golden chance off a Christian Eriksen through ball in the 50th minute--a miss that would prove rather costly as Benfica doubled their lead only eight minutes later. This time, Younes Kaboul was at fault, losing Luisao on a corner after lacking the desire to properly mark him.
Eriksen fired Spurs back into the tie with a brilliant free kick goal from 20 yards, but the glimmer of hope he provided was short-lived. Ten minutes from time, Benfica put the tie seemingly out of reach as Luisao found himself completely unmarked in the box on a corner after Lloris parried the initial header. The defender's brace put the visiting side 3-1 up, and left Spurs with quite the mountain to climb on the return leg in Portugal.
There are lots of things I don't like about Tim Sherwood and he always deserves some of the blame for his team's poor performance, but I can't put this all on him. Eriksen was probably the only individual I can pick out that had even a solid game. Everyone else was somewhere between slightly below average and poor. While the team lacked organization and ideas, the team selection was at least sensible. No one delivered.