Tottenham Hotspur were stunned in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night in a deserved 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp in Belgium. Lior Refaelov pounced on an error from Ben Davies to give the underdogs a first-half lead, and despite crafting a few nice chances, the boys from North London will be going back to England empty-handed.
The most consistent form of attack for Tottenham came through their one-two moves, many of which were able to catch Antwerp off guard. There was definitely an increase in urgency as the game went on and once they started to calm down on the ball and compose themselves in possession, Jose Mourinho’s men had a lot more success.
Antwerp were given endless opportunities to exploit open space by Spurs and the pressing from the visitors was fairly non-existent. They didn’t react quickly enough against a side that just wanted it more than they did, and even though we eventually saw a string of regular first-teamers take to the pitch, the communication levels were way down on what you’d expect from 2019’s Champions League finalists.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — While Mourinho’s starting XI did serve as proof of the depth that Spurs now have, the setup was slow and fairly lethargic. The Special One really went for it at half-time by making a somewhat ill-advised four substitutions, which precipitated a real lack of cohesion within the team in comparison to their Belgian opponents.
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Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Hugo Lloris, 6 — Couldn’t do much for the opening goal but did prevent things from getting worse with an instinctive 55th-minute tipped save over the bar.
DF Sergio Reguilon, 5 — Didn’t seem to read the game well, often left openings down the flank and was regularly caught out of position.
DF Ben Davies, 4 — A handful of positive clearances didn’t mean much in comparison to him playing a huge role in Refaelov’s goal.
DF Davinson Sanchez, 4 — After being dragged out of position several times in the first half, including for the goal, Sanchez saved the day with a perfect challenge after Harry Winks’ back-pass, before being sucked into trouble twice more before full-time.
DF Serge Aurier, 5 — Didn’t create enough activity down the wing and should’ve had more height on most of his final balls.
MF Harry Winks, 5 — Focused too much time in being cautious and almost gifted Antwerp a second goal with a poor 46th-minute back-pass.
MF Giovani Lo Celso, 6 — Shaped his body well for a decent 14th-minute strike and generally had the best distribution of the night before being subbed off at half-time.
MF Gareth Bale, 5 — Aside from showing more composure than most on his team, Bale did little to influence Tottenham from an attacking point of view.
Dele Alli did little to prove deserves more minutes in Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side. Getty
MF Dele Alli, 4 — The former World Cup hero looked rusty and often killed off positive moves by second-guessing himself.
MF Steven Bergwijn, 5 — Far too conservative in the final third with his primary highlight being a wayward 32nd-minute effort.
FW Carlos Vinicius, 5 — The newcomer’s hold-up play allowed him to bring others into the game nicely, but he showed the Antwerp defenders too much of the ball.
MF Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, 7 — Continues to prove why he’s such a valued commodity through his progressive style and accurate passing ability.
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MF Erik Lamela, 6 — There was a creative spark to the Argentine’s play that was levelled out by a lack of spatial awareness when in possession.
MF Lucas Moura, 5 — Showcased a real drive to get Tottenham back into the game through his runs to the byline and sustained pressure, although his decision making was still uncertain.
FW Son Heung-Min, 6 — Was a constant so3urce of danger for Spurs but his end product just wasn’t where it needed to be.
FW Harry Kane, 6 — Looked sharp enough whenever he was on the ball but the England star sat too deep to get the delivery he required.