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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Benfica: Live Player Ratings for Both Sides

Benfica's Nico Gaitan, from Argentina, gestures during their Portuguese league soccer match with Estoril, Sunday March 9, 2014, at Benfica's Luz stadium in Lisbon. Benfica defeated Estoril 2-0. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Armando Franca/Associated Press
Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2014

The UEFA Europa League returned on Thursday night, as Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur hosted Benfica of Portugal's Liga Sagres in the round of 16, first leg.

The Portuguese side ran out 3-1 winners and will be heavy favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, after Rodrigo and a Luisao brace rendered Christian Eriksen's free-kick meaningless.

Spurs Player Ratings
PlayerHTFT
Lloris65
Walker76
Kaboul67
Vertonghen66
Naughton55
Sandro66
Paulinho76
Lennon87
Kane66
Eriksen67
Adebayor65
b/r
Benfica Player Ratings
PlayerHTFT
Oblak66
Silvio78
Luisao89
Garay88
Siqueira67
Markovic77
Fejsa68
Ruben Amorim77
Sulejmani77
Rodrigo77
Cardozo66
b/r

 

Quick first-half analysis

Adebayor's movement of the opening 10 minutes was leaving spaces for his team-mates to run into, but only really Kane made those runs from the second line of attack. Neither Paulinho nor Sandro have been given real licence to run ahead of the ball from their pivot position, and as such, neither are influencing Spurs' play going forward.

Aaron Lennon has been a threat down the right, but beyond that, Benfica have not been troubled and a change of shape centrally—perhaps flipping the midfield three to allow more runners from deep—would look to be their best route into the game.

Benfica haven't over-committed numbers forward, but one defence-splitting pass and a cool finish have given them a perfect first half performance away from home in Europe.

 

Quick second-half analysis

Awful set-piece marking from Spurs is what has ultimately cost them, but Benfica were the better side overall anyway. Leaving Luisao unmarked, twice, is not really the best plan the Spurs defence will come up with this season.

Benfica defended deep and in numbers, forcing Spurs to pass around them, but there was not enough movement or penetration on the home team's part to really trouble the back line.

The Portuguese team were quick on the break and managed to get runners behind Spurs' full-backs, especially Kyle Walker, and individual errors by Tottenham's players caused further problems.

It will take a mammoth effort from Tim Sherwood's men in the second leg to prevent a landslide aggregate result.

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