Tottenham Hotspur vs. Tromso IL: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Jermain Defoe scored twice in eight minutes midway through the first half, as Tottenham looked to be well on their way to a comfortable win at White Hart Lane.
However, a brave display by Tromso IL in the second half kept the Norwegian side in the contest until the 86th minute, when Christian Eriksen added a third for the hosts.
Spurs started this Europa League contest brightly enough, but despite almost 75 percent possession, it took the North London side until the 21st minute to open the scoring—Defoe stroking the ball past goalkeeper Marcus Sahlman after Lewis Holtby and Erik Lamela had combined to play him through.
Shortly before the hour mark, Spurs were up 2-0, with Defoe having done the damage again.
It was Holtby making things happen once more. The Germany international anticipated his teammate’s run with a perfectly weighted ball that only needed a single touch from Defoe to find the back of the net at the far post.
Spurs looked like they would cruise to the three points from there, but they met some resistance in the second half when Tromso not only smothered their buildup play, but created one or two openings for themselves as well.
Morten Moldskred, who was terrific on the night, quite nearly played Zdenek Ondrasek into good space following a slalom run through the Spurs midfield.
On loan from Fulham, midfielder Josh Pritchard drilled a shot at goal from distance midway through the period only to see it sail over the crossbar.
The introduction of Paulinho with 19 minutes remaining seemed to settle the hosts, and with four minutes to play Eriksen had scored his spectacular insurance marker—his swerving effort from distance beating Sahlman to the far corner.
Key Player Grades
Jermain Defoe: A-
He did what Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas will have wanted him to do: score goals. Two of them, in fact. Both tallies required only a single touch, and for a time, it looked as though he had turned back the clock four years to when he scored an impressive 24 goals for Tottenham in all competitions.
However, he fell off the map in the second half—a fact largely down to the effectiveness of the Tromso back line as much as anything else.
Lewis Holtby: B+
Holtby had a hand in both goals and demonstrated through much of the match why Spurs had targeted him in last January’s transfer window.
But when Tromso found themselves in possession for spells after the restart, he was a reluctant—if not incapable—defensive contributor. His withdrawal in the 71st minute for Paulinho saw Spurs settle nicely into the final minutes of the match.
Morten Moldskred: B+
The 33-year-old was Tromso’s glue at White Hart Lane. A bit out of depth in the first half, he settled extremely well into the contest after the restart and quite nearly created a goal for his side when an impressive dribble took him into the attacking third.
It was his defensive contribution from midfield that was especially important to Tromso, though, who might have found themselves on the end of a hiding if not for his influence.
Tottenham will face Cardiff City on Sunday and begin their league cup campaign away to Aston Villa just two days later. They’ll then host Chelsea on September 28 before traveling to Russia for a date with Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League on October 3.
Tromso, meanwhile, are presently fourth-worst in the Norwegian league and their next appointment in this competition will also come on the 3rd against Tiraspol.
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