Benjamin Stambouli snatched his first goal in a Spurs shirt to seal the side’s progression into the knockout stages of the Europa League on a disjointed night at the Lane.
After a largely dull first half an hour in which only Roberto Soldado had a sight of goal, the players were taken from the pitch for security reasons as Partizan pitch invaders ran riot on 3 separate occasions.
Fears of abandonment soon blew over and just 4 minutes into the second half Stambouli reacted quickest to Soldado’s shot which rebounded off the post and into the Frenchman’s path.
Hugo Lloris sprang into action late on as Stambouli and Lamela became wasteful in front of goal, but the slender lead was enough to see Spurs into the last 24 of the competition, with 8 Champions League dropouts to join the progressed sides.
Hugo Lloris 7 – Earned his clean sheet with a superb diving save to deny Partizan from a late set-piece. Was calm in distributing the ball to Davies and Naughton and was once again an assured captain.
Kyle Naughton 6 – Had a spring in his step going forward which papered over the few poor touches Naughton was guilty of. Delivery was still very much an issue with none of his crosses finding targets.
Jan Vertonghen 7 – Was on high alert playing next to Vlad Chiriches but was looked smooth amongst the tough conditions. Finished with a brilliant 97% pass completion.
Vlad Chiriches 6 – Always keeps you on your toes this one! Has his odd “moment” but Vlad wasn’t punished as such tonight. Certainly a skilful player but application is the issue, with his cameo at right-back a much more risk-free strategy.
Ben Davies 6 – A very safe option at left-back but was given a tough time by Grbić on the wing. Again his delivery wasn’t up to scratch but some of his passing inside was impressive, particularly with Lamela.
Mousa Dembele 5 – Same old story, didn’t manage to assert himself in a position he can hold down. Substituted not long after half time having played neither as a defensive or creative midfielder.
Benjamin Stambouli 7 – I was impressed by Stambouli who gets my Man of the Match tonight. Aside from scoring his first goal for the club – which certainly should have been joined by his second – Stambouli showed some great skill and most of all composure on the ball. Definitely a shout for Sunday’s game with Ryan Mason.
Aaron Lennon 6 – Was generally effective providing the width when out on the right but weirdly, his best moments all came from the left. Not an “inverted winger” in any way shape or form but his throughballs for Kane and Soldado sliced Partizan in two.
Erik Lamela 6 – Very promising from the Argentine who was typically full of running but was once again so close yet so far. Saw a brilliant effort – his 6th of the game – tipped over in the dying moments and hit the post too.
Paulinho 6 – Surprisingly energetic but still far from the number 10 Pochettino need to fit his system. Sort of like a Labrador, running around playing the odd pass but with an inept sense of tactics.
Roberto Soldado 7 – I don’t care what anybody says this guy had a great game tonight. The worries can flow when Soldado doesn’t find himself in the positions to score but tonight he was always on hand and is forever unlucky. Sad to see him substituted before he found the net.
Nabil Bentaleb 6 – An assured return from injury, Good to see him back.
Harry Kane 6 – Looking more and more our best attacking option. Definitely looked a class above when he came on with some brilliant footwork and deserved a penalty.
Harry Winks N/a – Heartwarming to see the 18-year-old get such a huge reception. Another one!
Although the game was all-in-all fairly comfortable (with the odd lapse in concentration), it would have been nice to see us smash a side out of the ground for once.
True, sides like Partizan who come to the Lane and sit back do encourage a lacklustre game of attrition, but we should surely have enough quality in our squad to patiently work the opportunities?
On the upside, our trip away at Besiktas now holds only the challenge of finishing as group-toppers and it would be a great chance to see the likes of Winks and Ball get a proper run-out.