Tottenham came from a goal behind to beat AEL Limassol 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League play-off.
Tottenham won the game at AEL Limassol, where a less than satisfactory performance first half saw the Cypriots go ahead by one goal. It was a hot night in Cyprus; many of the players seemed to struggle. However, the players overcame the heat in the second half through an inspired comeback led by substitute Erik Lamela, getting two assists.
It was a poor start from Spurs. Early on there were chances, but Soldado and Paulinho missed from their respective efforts. In the 13th minute, Limassol took the lead. Sardinero broke through the centre of the pitch, Davies could not catch him after poor positioning and it was a simple enough finish for the striker who put the ball past a despairing Lloris into the bottom right corner.
Tottenham replied with attacks but took too long on the ball to cause any damage. At the same time, Limassol replied with their own attacks. The goal seemed to have shook Spurs. Kane forced a shot from the keeper in the 31st minute, after a Townsend cross. Two minutes later he takes another shot. Fergrouch dealt with both shots easily enough. Kane seemed to be the brightest attacking player.
Holtby was booked on the 36th minute after questioning the referee for a previous foul on Kane that was not picked up. There was also another chance for AEL Limassol where goal scorer Sardinero used his great pace to get behind Davies and a save from Lloris was the only thing stopping him from getting his second goal.
Spurs were glad to head in at half-time with the score still at 1-0. There were many defensive lapses where Limassol very nearly converted the chances. Lloris kept some out, where others were high or wide. A goal down, Tottenham still had more possession (57%) and had 6 shots on target to Limassol’s 2.
Just after the start of the second half, Limassol nearly get their second goal of the night, but Barcelos’ shot was blocked by Vertonghen, the ball then fell to Guidileye whose shot was then blocked by Naughton. More chances followed, but they were not on target. Resulting corner cleared. Spurs won two corners, but both came to nothing.
Soldado continued in his poor form, a bad touch leads to a bad challenge and gets the yellow card. Paulinho subbed off for Chadli in the 58th minute. Townsend and Chadli made positive runs forcing Limassol into tackles.
Holtby subbed for Dembele in the 66th minute. Chadli gets to the by-line, crossed to Kane. The keeper somehow kept out the shot after it came off the bar. Lamela gets subbed on for Townsend.
Lamela got the ball to Soldado through a diagonal chipped pass. Soldado finished brilliantly, smashing the ball into the bottom right corner on the volley after watching the ball fall over his shoulder. It was the goal that levelled the game in the 74th minute. All three subs seemed to enlighten a poor Tottenham side.
Spurs got their second goal after Lamela setup Harry Kane in the 79th minute. Kane beat a man then hit the ball into the top left corner, a wonderful finish.
There was another good play down the left-hand side. Chadli crossed to Lamela, the ball slightly behind him. Lamela put the ball just wide. Lamela then had a chance in the box, but the keeper kept him out in the 88th minute. He really did inspire Tottenham to go on and win the game.
Lloris: Nothing troubled him apart from the goal, which he could do nothing about. (Good)
Naughton: Made some runs forward, gave the ball away. (Average/Poor)
Dier: Struggled to deal with physical striker (Average)
Vertonghen: Made some good blocks, but made some errors too. (Average)
Davies: Made the mistake for the goal, and nearly made the same mistake again. Decent going forward (Average/Poor)
Bentaleb: Solid performance (Good)
Paulinho: Gave the ball away, lacking match fitness. (Poor)
Holtby: Not one of his best performances. Scrappy. (Average)
Townsend: Made some attacking runs, was one of the better players. (Good)
Kane: Scored the winner. Brightest player in the first half, good in the second too. (Excellent)
Soldado: Missed some chances, had some poor touches, but good finish for the equaliser. (Good)
Dembélé: Kept the ball nicely, strengthened the midfield. (Good)
(MOTM) Lamela: Two assists says it all. Fantastic performance. Won us the game. If it wasn’t for the keeper he’d have a goal too! (Excellent)
Chadli: Improved our side when he came on. Positive runs forward. (Good)