Tottenham Hotspur were cruelly beaten 3-2 by Roma in New Jersey on Tuesday night, in another relatively strange game of football. Vincent Janssen and Harry Winks were on the score-sheet for Spurs in a match in which Tottenham fought back from 2-0 down in the last 6 minutes of the game, only to throw it all away from the restart in the final minute of the game.
Changing it up from the team that started against PSG, Spurs played with 3 at the back consisting of the Belgian partnership of Toby and Jan, alongside 19 year old Cameron Carter-Vickers, who also started in Saturday’s 4-2 victory. Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker-Peters were Tottenham’s two wing-backs on the night, with KWP featuring on the left. Dier and Dembele returned in centre midfield for Tottenham, behind a young and English front three of Kane, Alli and Onomah. Veteran goalkeeper Michel Vorm was also in goal for Spurs.
It was Roma who started the game better and their efforts were quickly rewarded in the 12th minute when the referee strangely awarded the Italian side with a penalty kick for a Carter-Vickers handball, after waving play-on, but then changing his mind and signalling for the spot-kick.
It looked a harsh call considering the ball struck the teenager’s hand from point-blank range, but what’s worse is that the referee and the fourth official seemed somewhat swayed by the protests of the Roma players. The referee actually listened to the Roma complaints, then had a chat with the fourth official, before casually giving the penalty. Very strange and a terrible call.
However, up stepped Diego Perotti, who cool as a cucumber struck the ball into the right corner while a helpless Vorm stood stranded in the middle of the goal. With 13 minutes played, Tottenham were already 1-0 down and, after the goal, the Serie A runners-up continued to dictate the play.
It took a good ten minutes more for Spurs to find their feet in this tie. Dembele saw a shot cannon off the bar some 25 minutes in, after Trippier had done well on the wing to find Kane from a cross, who forced a corner. From the resulting kick, Dembele tested his luck from a narrow angle, only to see his shot rebound off the crossbar.
Eventually, the half-time whistle blew, and apart from Dembele’s shot which struck the wood-work and Roma’s dubious penalty, there was little to report. Spurs hadn’t played well in the first half. Dele Alli had barely got a kick, and Spurs’ midfield was being totally outnumbered. It was obvious that a massive improvement was required in the second half and
After the break, Spurs made 5 changes, bringing on Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies, Harry Winks, Anthony Georgiou and Christian Eriksen, in place of Michel Vorm, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kyle Walker-Peters, Josh Onomah and Eric Dier. The substitutions saw Spurs shift back into a 4-2-3-1, with the youngster Georgiou on the wide-left flank.
Tottenham started this half as much the brighter side and were denied a stonewall penalty just 5 minutes into the restart, when former Spurs flop Frederico Fazio knocked Harry Kane to the ground inside the box with his trailing foot, which the referee remarkably decided not to wave as a foul. After awarding Roma with such a soft penalty in the first half, it was almost an insult to watch such a clear foul inside the box go unpunished by the American referee. Another terrible call.
These injustices seemed to spur Spurs on, as the entire team appeared to be injected with a renewed sense of aggression and desire. So much so that a small scrap broke out after a few dodgy tackles near the touchline. For a moment, tempers were boiling over between Alli and Strootman, but the two managed to control their emotions and return to the football once they had recalled the fact it was supposed to be a friendly.
From then on, Spurs proceeded to dominate, with Kane missing one or two chances to put Spurs level before the hour mark. In the 69th minute, Spurs made two more changes, with Kevin Wimmer and Tashan Oakley-Boothe coming on for Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele respectively.
Unfortunately, Wimmer wasn’t on the pitch for a minute before he’d cost Tottenham another goal. Strootman charged down the left and then powered a cross into the centre of the six yard box, which seemed easy for Kevin Wimmer to deal with. However, under no pressure at all, and with his first touch of the game, the Austrian international sheepishly tapped the ball no further than the penalty area and an on-rushing Cengiz Under fired the ball past Hugo Lloris, to make the score 2-0 to Roma.
As a defender, you’re always encouraged to put the ball out of play when you’re uncertain of your surroundings. However, here Wimmer has failed to do the basics by putting the ball into the middle of the penalty area and that’s a bad, bad goal to concede.
2-0 read a harsh scoreline, as Tottenham had really been in the driving seat for most of the second half, yet an unfair penalty and a calamitous defensive error had set Spurs a 2 goal deficit to chase with only 20 minutes left to play.
What followed though was a dramatic flurry of late goals, with Tottenham Hotspur fighting back to 2-2, only to concede a last minute winner to lose the game 3-2. Two crucial changes allowed for Spurs to come to close to a draw, with Janssen and N’Koudou coming on for Kane and Alli with 10 minutes left on the clock.
On the 87 minute mark, Eriksen worked the ball to Janssen, who was unmarked, only for his shot to bounce back off the post. After a short scramble for the ball, Harry Winks appeared at the back post to tap the ball into a nearly empty net, giving Spurs some late, late hope. 2-1.
And then just 4 minutes later, Spurs thought they had forced a penalty shoot-out when N’Koudou’s blistering run on the right flank opened up the space for a cross, which was met by Janssen again, who this time made no mistake, squeezing the ball into the front post. 2-2.
It was a brilliant goal from Spurs and everyone in the stadium was suddenly preparing themselves for the lottery of a penalty shoot-out. However, it was not to be for Tottenham, as after finally drawing level, all of Tottenham’s hard-work was undone in a moment, as Spurs had completely switched off at the back.
With almost the last kick of the game, not 60 seconds later, a cross from the left found it’s way to Tumminello, who somehow found himself unmarked at the back-post and simply slid the ball into the back of the net.
It was a cruel blow for Spurs, especially when considering the fact that Wimmer was sprawled out on the floor when the cross was played in. He seemed to have taken a tumble when trying to mark Tumminello. I’m not sure why he stayed down, perhaps he thought he was fouled in the build-up. He probably was, it was that sort of game. The football Gods were against Spurs in this one. A ridiculous penalty was given against us, yet a stonewall one was denied to us by the ref. And Wimmer really had a game he’d want to forget.
We played a poor first half it’s true, but we didn’t deserve to lose that match outright. But I suppose we got a lot of luck against PSG, it was destined to balance itself out tonight. If anything, at least the youngsters looked good. N’Koudou was a revelation when brought on and it’s nice to see Janssen scoring a goal. Additionally, I was really impressed with Georgiou. He was fast, strong and got stuck in all over the pitch. That can be the silver-lining.
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