Tottenham Hotspur took the short hop to Belgium to play Jupiler Pro League leaders Royal Antwerp in the 2020 Europa League on Thursday, but it absolutely did NOT go according to plan. After a decent quarter hour, Antwerp put the screws to Spurs, scored from a wide open shot in the box from Lior Refaelov, and never let Tottenham back in the match. The final score was 1-0.
It’s Europa League, and for Jose Mourinho and Spurs’ large squad, that usually means rotation. We got that in spades. Hugo Lloris was preferred in goal to Joe Hart, who started against LASK. Dele returned to the starting lineup for just the third time this season, in a midfield that also included Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Winks. Hometown hero Toby Alderweireld started on the bench, with Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies as the central defense pairing, and the Serge(io) fullback pairing on the flanks. Carlos Vinicius led the attack with Gareth Bale and Steven Bergwijn.
6’ — Gareth Bale gets Tottenham’s first sniff at goal with a shot from the top of the box that goes wide of the post.
13’ — Good chance for Antwerp off of (you guessed it) a set piece. A corner kick was met at the near post and headed towards goal, but went wide of the far post.
21’ — Another good chance for Antwerp as Refaelov dribbles around Harry Winks in the box but fires over the bar. Just after: Dele plays a nice ball to Vinicius on the counterattack but he can’t quite get the shot off.
28’ — Goal to Antwerp. Ben Davies coughs up the ball in a dangerous area, though it looked like he got fouled. Refaelov ends up wide open in Spurs’ box off of a counterattack and hammers it into the back of the net. Terrible giveaway. 1-0 Antwerp.
37’ — Not a lot of love going forward for Spurs in this half. Bale takes another crack from range but it’s high and over the bar.
44’ — Spurs are all at sixes and sevens at the moment. Antwerp are just carving them up and Spurs should feel fortunate not to be down by more than a goal. This time Reguilon has to run in to poke a ball away in the box to save a point-blank shot on goal.
HALF TIME: Well, that didn’t go according to plan. That was possibly one of Spurs’ worst half of football all season. They looked lost for quite a bit of the opening 45 minutes and find themselves down at Antwerp 1-0.
Mourinho must be FURIOUS — there are four halftime changes for Tottenham: Son, Lamela, Lucas, and Hojbjerg are on, Dele, Bergwijn, Lo Celso, and Vinicius are off.
46’ — Almost a second for Antwerp. Sloppy play from Winks and Sanchez, but Sanchez was able to recover enough to poke away a chance in the box from Refaelov.
50’ — Yellow card for Refaelov for fouling Hojbjerg.
55’ — Oh my gosh. How did Antwerp not score there? Mbokani had an open shot inside the six yard box but managed to “Sterling” it over the bar. Wild. And just after, Hugo forced into a save from a looping ball over his head. This is bad.
58’ — Spurs have now made their fifth and final sub before the 60th minute. Harry Kane is on for Gareth Bale who was... uhhhhhh not good.
62’ — Ugh, Sonny should’ve scored. Received a cross into the box and scuffed it. He scores that goal 90% of the time. Just after, Aurier puts a good cross and Lamela was an inch away from heading that in.
72’ — I can’t figure out how Antwerp isn’t up by four goals right now. It was two on none on a breakaway for Antwerp and they fired it miles over the top of the bar. Huge bailout for Tottenham.
79’ — Can I get a different Tottenham, please? This one is broken.
89’ — Spurs are scrambling to get an equalizer and there are balls pinging all over the box, but they can’t get it on target. Aurier forces a save from the Antwerp keeper late, but it’s not enough.
FULL TIME: Final score 1-0. Bad.
- That first half was one of the worst games of football Spurs have played all season, up there with West Ham 2nd half and first half at Plovdiv. It started out promising enough but Spurs just weren’t able to put it all together.
- FOUR half-time rage-subs from Mourinho and he somehow leaves Winks, who was absolutely shambolic, on the pitch? Wild. I actually thought Dele played pretty okay but this sub is going to be spun into a narrative. Same with Lo Celso.
- Gareth Bale was extremely not good. Snail-like pace, virtually invisible. A couple of long range pops but nothing that forced a save. Pretty bad!
- Also pretty bad: Bergwijn, who looks like he’s been trying too hard to do good stuff in his last couple of stints. I’m starting to lose patience with him. And since we’re talking about bad performances, Aurier and Reguilon were also flat. Don’t get me started on Davies.
- If we won this match I would’ve gladly put up with a couple of European away stinkers because we’d still be huge favorites to qualify. This, however, just felt regressive and frustrating.
- Credit to Antwerp — they played a progressive, physical game and just flat-out spanked Spurs the whole match. Spurs were bad, but Antwerp also just plain beat ‘em.
- Brighton is a much better team than Antwerp and they’re coming to north London on Sunday. Be better, Spurs!
- More like Hottenham Totspur. OK, bye!