Tottenham Hotspur: Europa League Match Report and Player Ratings

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Tottenham Hotspur: Europa League Match Report and Player Ratings
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Tottenham won comprehensively in Edinburgh tonight, casually thumping a vulnerable Hearts side 5-0.

The scoresheet provided five different names as well, with Van der Vaart, Defoe, Livermore, Bale, and Lennon all providing fine finishing touches.

Harry Redknapp named a strong side, possibly expecting more of a challenge from the Scottish side.  Then again, the players in the squad may have been the only ones available, as Redknapp surprisingly named two goalkeepers on his bench due to a lack of fit outfield players.

Thankfully, the injury list looks like it will not grow after the match, with everyone coming through the match seemingly unscathed.

As for the match, Spurs started brightly, bagging an albeit fortunate goal in the 5th minute.  Defoe and VDV played a clever one-two before the ball became muddled between a few Hearts defenders outside the box.

A botched clearance struck the Dutchman on the shoulder, fell kindly to him in the center of the box, and was finished coolly past the goalkeeper's right palm.

Spurs only had to wait eight minutes to double their tally.  Lennon, switched over to the left flank, combined with VDV and laid a cracking ball into Defoe on the edge of the box, who touched brilliantly in and finished left-footed into the bottom left corner.

From there, the match, and possibly the tie, were surely won, if only for a few more clever passages and goals from Tottenham.

Kranjcar and Livermore bossed the play in the middle of the park for Spurs, as Hearts gave away acres of space to the London side.  Bale cam close with a driving effort not too long after, one that came whiskers away from the top left corner.

The first scare for the Tottenham defense came a few minutes later, when Hearts' best player on the day, Ryan Stevenson, hit a superb cross from the left flank that met no connection.

Just five minutes later and the game was over.  Hearkening back to a year ago, when Spurs found themselves 3-0 down to Young Boys in Bern, this Tottenham side was on the positive end of that scoreline.

Livermore and Defoe combined at the top of the box before the Europa league debutant drove in and finished powerfully by a helpless keeper.  It was an effort much deserved for the young 21-year-old, and he celebrated comically with Bale before being mobbed by the entire XI.

Halftime couldn't come soon enough for Paulo Sergio's side, but they began the next 45 with their best bit of football yet.

The Scottish side won a sequence of corners against a nearly untested Spurs defense and goalkeeper and nearly bundled in an effort before Dawson cleared in the 48th.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Livermore scoring his first goal for Tottenham

Apart from a couple anxious moments from Gomes and Tottenham's incapacity to defend corners, Spurs regained their foothold in the match by the 60th minute.

Kyle Walker provided one of the brilliant moments of the match, apart from the goals, when he made up lost ground on a surging run from David Templeton.  The young right back burst out of nowhere to intervene almost casually before the midfielder was set to shoot against a falling Heurelho Gomes, nicking away the ball and clearing his lines.

Van der Vaart, perhaps to save his legs for a date with Manchester United looming, was replaced by a fit again Tom Huddlestone, who made an instant impact, laying in a trademark lofted through ball for Bale to touch past the keeper and slot into an open net.  4-0 to Spurs.

Andros Townsend replaced Bale on 70 minutes and looked lively yet again.  Almost 10 minutes after coming on, the young winger played a huge part in another contender for goal of the match.

Hearts were dispossessed in the Tottenham penalty area by a Livermore and Walker combination.  The ball fell to Lennon on who touched onto a passing Townsend, who ran 30 yards towards the half before releasing a sublimely cutting ball to Defoe, who carried on the left side of the box and crossed to a surging Lennon.  All that was needed was a calm touch, and the diminutive winger obliged side-footing past a sprawled keeper.

The match finished without any real alarms.  Stevenson came closest for Hearts directing a shot outside of the box just wide of Gomes' left post, while Kranjcar and the rest of the Tottenham side did their best to try and finish off attacks by walking the ball into the net.

Nevertheless, the scoreline justly flattered an almost "mid-season form" looking Tottenham side.  While many Spurs fans and the players themselves thought the match would be a difficult one, they were proven otherwise.

Five away goals later and Tottenham are almost certainly progressing to the group stages of the 2011-2012 Europa League where the kids can be let loose.

 

Tottenham Starting XI & Ratings: Gomes (6); Walker (8), Dawson (7), Kaboul (7), Assou-Ekotto (7); Lennon (7), Livermore (7), Kranjcar (8), Bale (7); Van der Vaart (7), Defoe (8).

Subs Bench and Ratings (if applicable): Friedel, Cudicini, Bassong, Corluka, Huddlestone 59' (7), Townsend 70' (7), Pavlyuchenko 79' (5)

Scorers: Van der Vaart 5' (1-0), Defoe 13' (2-0), Livermore 28' (3-0), Bale 63' (4-0), Lennon 78' (5-0)

Goal of the Match: Tie between Defoe's strike and the counterattacking goal by Lennon.

Man of the Match: Again a difficult one as so many players provided immense impact.  But if I had to throw a name out there, it would be Jermain Defoe, as he scored 1 and assisted 2, though Kranjcar was quite brilliant in the absence of Modric.

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