The Three Firsts And Job Done.
Three firsts; First goal by Llorente, First Goal for Nkoudou, First CL appearance for Sterling.
I`m grateful to Matic for his summary of the players and the game, I thought it was always going to be very hard to have a really good game and one that made everybody feel it was a fitting end to our group campaign; it wasn`t, and that didn`t surprise me, even if on the way back last night everything felt very flat, if I didn`t know better I would have said we`d lost.
Talking to a bunch of other fans on the train back, I`d say everyone is nervy, confidence is low and our expectations for the January window are more one of trepidation of whether we can hold onto who we`ve got.
I`m actually glad the Champions League is out of the way now so that we can concentrate on getting our form right in the Premier League.
We could now show that we are prepared to fight to the very end for that Top 4 finish., do that and faith and hope could be easily restored.
Anyway, here`s Matic`s view of the game and the players - none of which I could disagree with, hence why I've reproduced his thoughts here in full:
It was a really strange game. Our comfort in the game was more to do with APOEL being poor than us playing well. There were passages of play where we did well and a few players had really good games. My thoughts...
Vorm - Nothing to do.
Aurier - Brilliant cross for the goal, had a few brain fart moments where he let his concentration slip but had a decent game in general. He didn't dive in to challenges like he usually does and even though that yellow card could have been a red, I thought it was unfortunate more than it being a lack of discipline.
Foyth - Had moments where you would have been excused for thinking it was Toby on the pitch but then had moments that were typical of a 19 y/o who hasn't had much game time or experience at this level.
Sanchez - Worst performance for us yet. He was rash, lacking in discipline and his concentration kept slipping away. Totally different player to the one we've seen all season so far. This 3 game suspension might be a good chance for him to train hard and get his composure back.
Rose - Cut a frustrated figure. He's getting back into the swing of things but not at the level we're used to.
Winks - A really mature performance from such a young lad. The conductor for the orchestra. You can see he is struggling to get match fit though. He wasn't his usual self.
Sissoko - He had a few moments where his brain just shut off and he is a serial ball watcher but he worked hard and when he was switched on his passing and movement was very good.
Dele - Sort of drifted through the game. A couple moments of Dele genius and is definitely putting in the work but the only way I can describe him at the moment is that he looks a shell of the player we are used to.
N'Koudou - When that goal went in something appeared to click. He worked hard all game but looked nervous. He scored and his confidence rushed back. This could be the start of him being more involved because it was a decent performance.
Sonny - Class. A level above everybody else.
Llorente - Great goal and great assist. I really don't understand why we don't ping more crosses into the box from deeper when he is on the pitch. We don't really adapt to play to his strengths.
KWP - This boy has something about him. He was bright when he came on, did well getting down the flank and looks like he's getting stronger too. I'd be nervous if I were Aurier and Trips.
Dembele - I can understand why Poch put him on, because he has not been in good form and Poch will have wanted him to be a part of a win to give him some confidence. He was poor though and also looks like a player struggling for match fitness.
Sterling - Felt really sorry for him stood there for so long. You could feel through the TV that every Spurs fan was willing the ball to go out of play. I got that Poch will have wanted to give Dele more time to get a goal or something to help his confidence but I thought Kaz should have been bought on on around the 70-75 minute mark so he actually had a chance to get some proper minutes under his belt. Instead he got about 3 and only managed one touch.
Poch - Face like thunder all night. Bags under his eyes. The overall performance was enough to win but we were slow and still too sloppy.