Is Conte’s Spurs team really good?
It was a pretty crazy night during which neither Tottenham nor Vitesse wanted to defend themselves, nor wanted to maintain their discipline.
In some ways it was very different from what you would expect from Antonio Conte, who called for stability in his first interview as Spurs manager and showed himself strong for his debut game in charge, aware what is at stake in this competition, regardless of wanting to make a good first impression.
For the first 30 minutes he must have thought it was a very simple job to reinvigorate Tottenham. Three unanswered goals made Vitesse falter as they couldn’t cope with Spurs’ quick transitions on both flanks. Ben Davies and Cristian Romero carried the ball in defense and Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg controlled the midfield.
And then it all fell apart, reminding Conte of the magnitude of the task ahead. Eric Dier was beaten far too easily in set play for the Dutch team’s first replica and when Lucas Moura was caught trying to be too elaborate playing from behind it would seem too simplistic to say the Spurs’ implosion was reduced to a lingering lack of confidence.
But those insecurities that plagued the end of Nuno Espirito Santo’s tenure certainly returned as Conte grew increasingly restless on the sideline. Romero’s red card added to the sense of angst and Spurs were ultimately indebted to Hugo Lloris’ brilliance twice before Vitesse lost his temper.
“Those who know me very well know that I don’t like this kind of crazy game,” Conte said. “I want a stable team and when there is the possibility of killing the opponent you have to kill. Of course my team showed me great commitment and great resilience. This team needed to win by suffering too. “
It was the start of a new era, and question marks remain as to the quality of players available to Conte, but Tottenham fans won’t mind if they always end up winning under their dynamic new head coach.
Benrahma continues to shine for the Hammers
Coming into halftime 1-0 at Genk, after a slow start, West Ham needed an offensive spark. They had their chances towards the end of the first period, but given their form this season, David Moyes knew his team had more in the record.
A tactical adjustment saw Benrahma go through the middle, having started again from the right, and almost immediately after the restart he tested Genk’s midfielder. It was the one the hosts didn’t quite pass with flying colors, as it became the focal point of the Hammers’ attack.
His two goals were also superbly taken. The first saw him in the right place at the right time, sweeping the cut-back of Vladimir Coufal. There was a wonderful celebration with Kurt Zouma near the canoe, which was not held back by a VAR check for offside.
Then came a superb solo goal. He easily beat Mujaid Sadick on the right before coming home through the goalkeeper’s legs at a tight angle – only a striker with real confidence could finish that way.
It was a hectic first season at West Ham, not joining until mid-October and starting only in 16 games in all competitions and a single goal scored. But he has turned into an integral part of Moyes’ team. He has started in all 10 Premier League games so far and in the two Europa League games he has started he has found the net.
Moyes said of his player after the game: “I thought Said played well tonight. He did a lot of good things that I wasn’t so sure in the last few games, and scoring a few goals will help him. , good for him .”
He almost saved a West Ham side that conceded their first Europa League goals – one of which was a horrific goal against his own side Tomas Soucek – and was held to a draw for the first time in competition as well.
But thanks to Dinamo Zagreb’s victory over Rapid Vienna, West Ham secured their place in the round of 16 for the first time in 40 years. Hoping that Benrahma can continue to shine in Europe until 2022.
Rangers keep Euro dreams alive ahead of Sparta showdown
Ianis Hagi’s well-taken second-half strike that earned Rangers a deserved run at Brondby kept the Scottish champions’ hopes of finishing second in Group A and thus winning a playoff game with a League side. champions third to make the last 16 of the Europa League.
And that would be some recovery for Steven Gerrard’s side after losing their first two home group matches to leaders Lyon and second Sparta Prague.
However, Thursday’s point in Denmark put the Rangers on par with the Czechs, creating decisive potential for second place when the two teams meet at Ibrox on November 25.
Celtic starts clicking at the right time
Two games against Ferencvaros is exactly what the Doctor ordered a Celtic team looking at the barrel of an early elimination from Europe and embarrassment in Angel Postecoglou’s first season in charge.
From top to bottom and pointless, the Bhoys now have their destiny in their hands and know that two more victories will guarantee them, at least, a place in the Europa League play-off, and even two defeats will now take them the qualifiers of the Europa Conference League.
What a perfect time for Celtic to discuss their first away win in Europe since November 2019 – perhaps they are preparing perfectly to make two in a row against group leaders Bayer Leverkusen after the international break.
This victory should not be underestimated either. Although Ferencvaros are far from top-notch European opposition, Groupama Arena is not a welcoming stage for visiting teams and even with that Celtic looked confident and could have scored more than the three goals they scored in front of their hosts.
Six out of seven wins and one hit against Livingston on Saturday suggest Postecoglou is starting to get the most out of his new squad, and some of their newcomers are freezing too.
Kyogo Furuhashi’s feint and shot for the opener would be sublime on every level, and teams better than Ferencvaros would struggle to defend the perfect ball he played for Liel Abada’s third either. In fact, it was a trio of goals in the summer arrivals with Benfica mender Jota, the Bhoys’ pick of the season so far, also on target.
It will always be a big demand for Celtic to reach the play-offs or the round of 16 with two tough matches to come, and at least four points likely required.
After a slow start, they do all they can. And with their tails up, you never know.
The same issues are facing Leicester
There was almost a feeling of déjà vu for Leicester on Thursday. After a raucous 4-3 win in Russia two weeks ago, the second leg was a more moderate affair, but Spartak Moscow still managed to expose the Foxes’ weaknesses.
Mikhail Ignatov was easily played on the lower right, and while there are plenty of blue jerseys in the area, none were close to Victor Moses as he swept his head at the start of the second half. It was Spartak’s only shot on target.
The goal meant it was another game that went without a clean sheet from Leicester. They have kept only one in their last 15 games and none in each of their last nine games in all competitions. They haven’t managed a shutout in the Europa League this season.
Leicester captain Kasper Schmeichel said he was not sure why they were struggling to keep the sheets clean, but they were working hard to figure it out. His manager, however, shared his own thoughts.
“For me it’s simple. It’s about running, you have to run,” Brendan Rodgers told BT Sport. “We conceded a second goal here against Arsenal when we didn’t follow the race. So it’s pretty simple, you have to run, you have to work, you have to play the dirty side of the game.
“It’s not always with the ball, you have to be able to play against the ball. If you don’t run, it makes it harder for you.”
On the other side, Leicester had plenty of chances. Boubakary Soumare and Kelechi Iheanacho hit the crossbar, while Jamie Vardy saw a mediocre penalty by his standards saved by the Spartak keeper.
But you get the feeling we’ve seen this from Leicester before. A leaky defense coupled with a lack of sharpness sees them with just six wins in 16 games in all competitions this season, and just one in the Europa League.
Rodgers’ job is far from in danger and in a tight squad Leicester can still advance to the knockout stages. But against Legia Warsaw and on an intimidating trip to Naples, they need to improve considerably.