This comprehensive outclassing of Hearts on their own ground was a delight to watch, for Spurs fans anyway. Even though the home team were disappointing (pitiful up front, weak in midfield and easily breached at the back) you can only beat what’s in front of you as they say and we were impressive in the way we did it. We looked stronger, bigger and better. Men against boys almost.
We worked hard from the off and only eased the foot from the pedal late on. The makeshift central pairing of Kranjcar and Livermore were dominant in the middle and the rest of the team took their cue from them. The three goals in the first half were similar in that they all came from neat and slick link up play on the edge of the box that enabled first Van der Vaart then Defoe and Livermore to find space inside the area and finish expertly. Hearts put us under a bit of pressure at the start of the second period when we failed to deal adequately with a series of corners but their mini revival was short lived as breakaway goals from Bale and Lennon made next week’s second leg a formality.
They were all quality goals but the fifth in particular was a peach, Lennon picking up the ball just outside our 18 yard area to feed Townsend. He broke and put Defoe away who curled a ball across the six yard area just as Lennon arrived to sidefoot home.
The manager too had a good game making a tactical change around the hour mark when Hearts were threatening to come more into the match. Huddlestone replaced Van der Vaart and the Jambos were never a danger again.
Some pointers for the season. Gomes was in goal, Walker started above Corluka, Bale and Lennon regularly switched wings and Pav was on the bench. You’d have taken money off me if you had bet at the end of May that the Octopus would still be between the posts for our first game of the new season. I personally thought that Harry had had enough of his indecisive flapping but apparently not. Walker looked strong and swift. He lacks Charlie’s guile but his energy and athleticism more than make up for it. Defoe and Van der Vaart both scored and combined well together. Pav wont be surprised to have ended up watching most of the game from the sidelines but he won’t be thrilled by it either I’m sure. Two keepers on the bench suggests an injury crisis much more severe than I believe we actually have & I’m not sure of the point of it. No Kane was a disappointment, no Bentley or Hutton more of a pointer to their future prospects in a Spurs shirt.
A good start to the season, stronger opposition though is just days away.