There was no small amount of trepidation from Tottenham Hotspur supporters as Spurs traveled to Budapest for their away leg against Austrian Bundesliga side Wolfsberger AC in the first Europa League knock-out round. It turns out there wasn’t much to worry about. A heavily rotated Spurs side put three into the net in the first half and added a fourth late and rolled to a comfortable 4-1 win at the Puskas Arena.
The match was played in Budapest instead of Austria due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, but with no fans in the stadium any home field advantage was likely negated anyway. Tottenham got first half goals from Son Heung-Min, Gareth Bale, and Lucas Moura, and substitute Carlos Vinicius added a fourth a few minutes from time. Wolfsberg clanged two shots off the bar and scored from a hilarious penalty conceded by Moussa Sissoko in the second half.
To the surprise of many, Jose Mourinho opted for a heavily rotated side against his Austrian counterparts. Harry Kane supposedly made the trip to Hungary, but was not named either in the starting lineup or the bench. Instead, both Gareth Bale and Dele got rare starts in Mourinho’s starting XI, with Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura making up the attack. Hugo Lloris also stepped into the starting lineup ahead of usual Europa keeper Joe Hart. Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko were the preferred midfield pairing, with Pierre Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele on the bench.
Mourinho also named three Tottenham youth players to the bench, with Marcel Lavinier, Jamie Bowden, and Dane Scarlett all on the substitute’s list.
13’ — GOAL! SON HEUNG-MIN! The Puskas winner scores in the Puskas Arena! Assist by Gareth Bale, who fired a ball in from the edge of the box right at Sonny’s head and in. Great goal!
29’ — GOAL! GARETH BALE! That was a lovely shot — Gareth did a little move in the box that put a defender on his ass and blasted a ball into the top left corner. 2-0 Spurs!
29’ — Whoa! Wolfsberg nearly pulls one back off of a header on target, but Hugo makes an amazing fingertip save that tips the shot off the crossbar and out!
30’ — Oh dear, looks like Moussa Sissoko just did his ankle. He’s up and walking, but limping heavily. He jogs back on the pitch after being attended to, guess he’s fine.
34’ — GOAL! LUCAS MOURA! Lucas just slalomed past four dudes and shot straight down the middle past the keeper. 3-0, Spurs are rolling!
Halftime — Well, this has turned out to be a lot less dramatic than we expected based on Spurs’ current form. Wolfsberg isn’t very good, but we’ve definitely seen Spurs play worse against similar level opponents.
Mourinho opts for a halftime sub, as Carlos Vinicius comes on for Sonny. Good sub.
54’ — LOL a penalty to Wolfsberg, after Sissoko clipped Wernitzig in the box and the ref points to the spot. Wolfberg captain Leindl steps up and rolls the spot kick past Hugo. Score is now 1-3.
57’ — Gareth nearly poached the stupidest of goals after keeper Kofler fumbled an easy touch outside his own box. Bale nearly nicked the ball off him but the keeper managed to scramble it away.
63’ — Double sub for Spurs — Erik Lamela and Steven Bergwijn for Bale and Lucas.
69’ — Oh dear, Wernitznig puts one off the crossbar again, very nearly 2-3!
76’ — Final subs for Spurs as Ndombele and Hojbjerg are on for Sissoko and Dele.
87’ — GOAL! CARLOS VINICIUS! Right before full time, Lamela got a header inside the box, but Carlos stuck a leg out and knocked it past the keeper. 1-4! That should do it!
FULL TIME: That ended up being comfortable, but it required a few first team regulars to come in and steady the ship midway through the half. Final score: 1-4 to the good guys!
- So I didn’t even get a working stream of this match until a half hour in. Found it just in time to see Gareth score the second, but my #takes on the opening stretch of this match are few.
- Wolfsberg are not great, but Dele had an excellent match today. Very encouraging display, and he deserved a goal in this one.
- Same with Gareth Bale, who finally start to show ability that’s closer to what we expected from him this season.
- That penalty from Sissoko was SO stupid. It was an obvious call from the official but just a really dumb challenge.
- Wolfsberg had a couple of decent opportunities to score, including the shot that Hugo tipped off the bar and another that was inches away from a goal. Spurs looked just shaky enough that Ndombele and Hojbjerg needed to come on to steady things.
- This was Tottenham’s first ever away win in the Europa League knock-out stages. Sounds crazy, but it’s true — I checked!
- A 4-1 win probably means Spurs can play some children in the return leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and that’ll be nice considering we didn’t see any in this match.