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Pacos de Ferreira v Spurs, 19.08.21

(7.30pm – BST)

Scorer:- Lucas Silva, 45

Attendance:- 2,284

Referee:- Maurizio Mariani
Assistants:- Daniele Bindoni & Stefano Alassio
Fourth official:- Marco Piccinini
(All on-field officials from Italy. No VAR for this game)

Pacos (4-2-3-1):- Andre Ferreira; Fernando, Flavio Ramos, Baixinho (Capt.), Antunes; Stephen Eustaquio, Luiz Carlos; Helder Ferreira (sub Ze Uilton, 72), Nuno Santos (sub Matchoi, 62), Lucas Silva (sub Delgado, 72); Denilson (sub Joao Pedro, 88)

Subs not used:- Jeimes, Ze Oliveira (GK); Nuno Lima, Luis Bastos, Jorge Silva ; Ibrahim, Rui Pires ; Douglas Tanque

Booked:- Helder Ferreira (foul on Winks), Antunes (foul on Lo Celso), Delgado

Spurs (3-4-3):- 22 Gollini; 38 Carter-Vickers (sub 48 Paskotsi, 87), 4 Romero, 33 Davies (Capt.); 2 Doherty, 18 Lo Celso, 8 Winks,19 Sessegnon (sub 56 Bennett, 81); 43 John (sub 47 Clarke, 46), 44 Scarlett, 11 Gil

Subs not used:- 40 Austin; 42White, 50 Cesay, 53 Lyons-Foster; 51 Matthew Craig, 52 Michael Craig,55 Mundle

Booked:- Davies (foul on Helder Ferreira – arm raised), Gil (foul on Matchoi)

Second team proves to be second rate

Nuno Espirito Santo’s second team proved to be second rate in a third rate European competition against a moderate Portuguese side tonight. In fairness Spurs will be favourites to overcome the one-goal deficit in the home leg next week, but Nuno’s decision to play eleven different starters and to have no experience on the bench proved to be a gamble that did not work. Not one of Sunday’s starting line-up against Manchester City even travelled, and of course Harry Kane was also left at home.

We saw competitive debuts for Pierluigi Gollini in goal, Cristian Romero and Bryan Gil. Of the three, Gollini failed with the one big test he had to face, resulting in our goal against; Romero was probably not at his fittest, and Bryan Gil showed early promise, but perhaps had too much freedom with other players not always knowing their role. Indeed, Nuno’s formation was not always clear, but Ryan Sessegnon was a left-wing back often competing with Gil for space down the left side. Nile John hardly got a foot on the ball in the first half and working towards the right of midfield seemed to be by-passed when Doherty got forward. John’s second half replacement Jack Clarke fared little better, but then Ryan Sessegnon gave Spurs most of their attacking threat. The bottom line is that the Pacos goalkeeper did not have one meaningful save to make. Dane Scarlett was given little service, with Spurs lacking penetration, creativity or a decent final pass. It was an incredibly disappointing show.

The weather in Portugal was sunny and warm with the sun in Gollini’s eyes (he wore a cap). Spurs kicked off, but of course UEFA rules dictated there was no away crowd. Even the home crowd was of moderate proportions and socially distanced, although they were quite vocal in their support, especially after their team took the lead.

Spurs were drawing several free kicks. The first of which was won by Gil who looked very lively, and may I say Ginola-like in his style. I couldn’t help thinking of indiscipline though as he seemed to be turning up on other players’ territory. One run to the bye-line and a pass inside gave Sessegnon a good chance in front of goal, but Ryan could not get a shot in, although he did win a corner.

Gollini had to be alert to a quick throw-in and a shot on goal. The throw had been conceded by Winks, who was not so alert. Of course Spurs (or at least this version) are keyed into taking time over dead-ball situations, and not prepared for swift action. Spurs were dominating possession but Pacos got men back quickly and effectively, thus denying us penetration and meaningful efforts.

Sessegnon showed good defensive skill on the edge of his area, but shortly after Nuno Santos had a shot on target held by Gollini. The Spurs defence was not convincing, and I can’t see Cameron Carter-Vickers remaining again after the transfer window closed. Understandably, he lacked understanding with Romero and unfortunately Cameron was caught out several times. Gollini did claim a curling corner kick convincingly.

After a Carter-Vickers foul in dangerous territory the Pacos free kick was blocked and cleared. Doherty had a decent cross/shot blocked with the resulting corner taken by Lo Celso to no avail. Winks got to the edge of the Pacos area and fed a decent pass to Gil on the left, but the offside flag was raised. Winks was involved in a Spurs attack which broke down and the home side broke out of their half quickly with a nice pass sent to Lucas Silva by Nuno Santos. Silva timed his run perfectly and cut between our two centre-backs beating Gollini on his narrow left side to score just before the interval.

Jack Clarke took up duty on the left flank with Gil moving towards the right. Sessegnon won one corner with a good run to the bye-line and Spurs had two corners in succession, both unfruitful. Spurs now began to concede free kicks too easily, and often in dangerous positions. We could not afford to go two down, after all. Another Sessegnon run, this one from left to right across the outside of the area, ended with a wayward shot with his weaker right foot.

After a Spurs throw on the right, Doherty found Sessegnon with a good crossfield pass. Ryan made a bee-line for the area, but went down without winning a free kick. A foul on Clarke led to a free kick floated into the box by Lo Celso, but the ball was held by the keeper. That was about as threatening as Spurs got.

J’Neil Bennett, who scored the very first goal in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on March 24th 2019, made his first team debut when he replaced the tiring Sessegnon. Cater-Vickers gave us worries when conceding another free kick just outside the area. This was deemed an indirect free kick because I think the fact Cameron held the ball too long between his legs when on the ground was deemed obstruction. The free kick was blocked.

The only remaining excitement came three minutes into the five added minutes when Gil lifted a cross from the left but the ball was cleared away from the head of our third and final sub Maksim Paskotsi. Spurs will need to field a stronger side next Thursday. In the meantime, Nuno is clearly focusing upon his emotional return to Molineux on Sunday. I think we can name his team for that game now!

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