Tromso 0 Tottenham 2: Spurs ease into next round with comfortable win in the cold

By Sami Mokbel

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Andre Villas-Boas did not see much to warm his cockles.

Yes, his side won in the arctic conditions of north Norway, securing their place at the top of Europa League Group K with a routine win over Tromso.

But it wasn’t convincing as  Villas-Boas’ side struggled to score once again; this time against a team who have just been relegated from Norway’s top division.

Routine: Tottenham picked up a routine win to secure their passage into the next round of the Europa League

Routine: Tottenham picked up a routine win to secure their passage into the next round of the Europa League

Match facts

Tromso (4-4-2): Lekstrom 6, Frantzen 6, (Norbye 68, 6), Fojut 6, Causevic 7, Kristiansen 6, Andersen 6, Johansen 6, Bendiksen 6, (Helmke 76), Drage 6, Moldskred 6, (Espejord 71, 6), Ondrasek 6.

Suns not used: Bakkelund, Johnsen, Johnsen, Antonsen.

Booked: Fojut

Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Friedel 6, Naughton 6, Dawson 6, Chiriches 7, Fryers 6 (Vertonghen 71, 6), Capoue 6, Dembele 7, Townsend 7, Sigurdsson 7 (Lamela 78), Chadli 5 (Holtby 72, 6), Soldado 5

Subs not used: Coulthirst, Fredericks, McEvoy, Archer.

Booked: Dawson, Capoue, Soldado

Goals: Causevic (OG) 63, Dembele 75

Ref: Yevgen Aranovsky

Att: 6,500

Man of the match: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Player ratings from Sami Mokbel in Tromso

The Portuguese manager needed a moral boosting victory after Sunday’s 6-0 mauling against  Manchester City — but he didn’t get it. All he inherited was more questions.

How can Roberto Soldado remain a fixture in this team? Where is the attacking thrust that was a feature of their play last season? And the key question: why does this team struggle to create chances?

Villas-Boas needs to find the answers, and quickly. If he doesn’t there may be a bigger question for chairman Daniel Levy to answer.

‘I will remind you that we are up there in terms of creating chances,’ insisted Villas-Boas last night.
‘If not first, we are second or third. But obviously the goals have not arrived yet. That is the worrying part for us.’

Maybe last night wasn’t the right time for definitive assertions, Kyle Walker, Hugo Lloris, Paulinho, Aaron Lennon, Younes Kaboul and Jermain Defoe all stayed at home  as Villas-Boas (below) rotated his pack ahead of Sunday’s visit of Manchester United.

Nevertheless, Kyle Naughton and Zeki Fryers were the only players named in Villas-Boas’ starting XI that hadn’t played senior  international football.

This encounter had banana skin written all over it with freezing temperatures, snow and an artificial pitch.

From our Match Zone: Mousa Dembele's capped off a good Spurs move with a neat finish

From our Match Zone: Mousa Dembele's capped off a good Spurs move with a neat finish

On target: Mousa Dembele scored his first goal of the season in the win

On target: Mousa Dembele scored his first goal of the season in the win

Back on track: A wrapped-up Andre Villas-Boas was back to winning ways after Sunday's drubbing at Manchester City

Back on track: A wrapped-up Andre Villas-Boas was back to winning ways after Sunday's drubbing at Manchester City

Europa League Group K

And the Londoners’ start merely underlined that as Tromso came close to taking the lead after just 33  seconds when Zdenek Ondrasek fired wide with just Brad Friedel to beat.

Villas-Boas’ heart was in his mouth again three minutes later as the Norwegians saw a penalty shout turned down by referee Ievgenii Aranovskyi after Ondrasek fell in the box.

Slowly but surely, though, Spurs took a grip. Etienne Capoue just failed to connect with Gylfi  Sigurdsson’s 15th minute corner, before the Iceland international fired over the bar from 20 yards after a period of good possession.

Sigurdsson again went close in the 17th minute, firing narrowly wide with an angled drive from 15 yards after Andros Townsend’s excellent reverse pass.

Villas-Boas was more comfortable in the dug out now, but his side’s difficulties in unlocking Tromso would have been nagging away ahead of half-time.

Missed opportunity: Nacer Chadli shouts after missing a good first half chance

Missed opportunity: Nacer Chadli shouts after missing a good first half chance

Battle: Naughton fights for the ball with Thomas Drage on the artificial pitch

Battle: Naughton fights for the ball with Thomas Drage on the artificial pitch

Wizard: Andros Townsend was a constant threat down the right hand side

Wizard: Andros Townsend was a constant threat down the right hand side

Soldado’s goalscoring record in La Liga was impressive, but his overall play since arriving from Spain has left a lot to be desired.

‘I think he needs just one goal,’ said Villas-Boas.

‘It can happen to any striker. They live off the confidence of goals. At the moment it is not happening for him but he is trying.

‘We spoke before the game and he understands that for his confidence it is important to get the ball in the back of the net. He needs more (goals) particularly from open play. We are very patient.’

Villas-Boas might be patient but quite how patient Tottenham fans are — particularly with Defoe  waiting in the wings — is an  altogether different question.

Capoue saw a deflected drive from the edge of the box roll narrowly wide of Benny Lekstrom’s far post before Nacer Chadli wasted  Tottenham’s best chance of the half in the 39th minute.

Hardy sould: Tottenham fans cheer at Alfheim Stadion, 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle

Hardy sould: Tottenham fans cheer at Alfheim Stadion, 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle

All smiles: Andre-Villas Boas chats with his opposite number Steinar Nilsen

All smiles: Andre-Villas Boas chats with his opposite number Steinar Nilsen

Almost there: The tractor gets to work on the penalty area ahead of kick-off

Almost there: The tractor gets to work on the penalty area ahead of kick-off

The Belgian blazed over the bar after Sigurdsson’s inch-perfect pass, when a simple square pass inside to Soldado would have given the Spaniard the clearest of openings.

Whether Soldado, given his performance up to that point, would have converted is another question. But we were offered an indication in the 54th minute.

Townsend found the Spain striker at the back post just seven yards out; all it needed was a competent first touch and Soldado would surely have scored. Instead, somehow he  contrived to handle the ball in  trying to control the cross, giving away a free kick.

It summed up his night — and season — so far.

Ready to go: A small mountain of cleared snow is collected at the side of the artificial pitch

Ready to go: A small mountain of cleared snow is collected at the side of the artificial pitch

Fellow summer signing Chadli wasn’t faring much better, wasting another good opening with a  wayward right-foot shot after good work from Townsend.

Finally, however, there was  something for Tottenham to smile about in the 64th minute as they took the lead — but even then it took an own goal.

In trying to prevent Vladimir Chiriches from having a clear strike from Sigurdsson’s low free kick, Adnan Causevic inadvertently fired past his own keeper. It was a crumb of comfort for Villas-Boas.

As was Mousa Dembele’s 74th minute strike, which ensured  Tottenham didn’t slip-up in the icy surroundings deep inside the  Arctic Circle.

The problem for Villas-Boas is, how frosty will it be on Sunday if his side capitulate against United?

 

Warm up: Brad Friedel does his best to get prepared for the freezing conditions

Warm up: Brad Friedel does his best to get prepared for the freezing conditions

North: Tromso are the world's northernmost top flight club, plying their trade in the Tippeligaen

North: Tromso are the world's northernmost top flight club, plying their trade in the Tippeligaen

Stunning: The Alfheim Stadion lights up the Tromso, the tiny Norwegian city where Spurs played in the Europa League tonight

Stunning: The Alfheim Stadion lights up the Tromso, the tiny Norwegian city where Spurs played in the Europa League tonight

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Another shocking performance by Spurs team lead by a bloke who is totally out of his depth how on earth AVB got the job in the first place is one big mystery to me

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Very disappointed at Spurs performance. They are not a team, but 11 individuals who do not seem to know what their team-mates have in mind. Soldado must wonder when he, like Defoe, is going to be given a clear chance. He has no-one capable of opening up a defence as there is so little movement off the ball to create options for the guy with the ball. The likes of Dembéle, Capoue and Chadli are cumbersome and lack the necessary one-touch ability needed to play the game successfully at this level. I can't make up my mind whether it is AVB's lack of any sort of plan or the lack of a footballing brain amongst the playing staff. Spurs do not entertain anymore.

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omg they beat the worst team in the competition by only two goals and they think there back to winning ways, i can see utd destroying this team on sun....

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Gotta laugh at some of the 55pur22 saddos on here shouting the odds because they've topped their EL group. Wow!! It included a bankrupt Anzhi, a relegated Tromso and a no-one's-ever-heard-of-them Sheriff, SO I SHOULD DAMN WELL THINK YOU'D TOP THE GROUP!!.

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still far far from convincing spurs. sorry avb but your time is UP!!

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Arsenal would have absolutely destroyed this team.

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To be honest Arsenal U19 can even easily beat this team. And even Bendtner can score a goal. A very very poor team this is.

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Idiot alert

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Spurs fans talking about topping the table. Who do you think you played? but of course these teams are in your level you got the Wright to be proud. Lol

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wright!!!!!!!!!!!!!learn to spell saddo

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If this a good score line against an already relegated team, I have nothing to say! They are in Europa league because of UEFA fair play rule, not because they are angels in Norway

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++++++STOP PRESS++++++TOTTS SCORE TWO GOALS IN OPEN PLAY +++++++

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Oh good, the DM has decided that the pressure has eased on AVB, I am sure he is simply delighted to learn this. Come Saturday, the pressure will build again, come Monday (if Spurs lose), the pressure will be building again.

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