Spurs Europa League Exit
So, a 2-2 draw to Gent at Wembley on Thursday night brought Spurs’ Europa League ‘dream’ to an end. We apply the term dream loosely. After all, does any Premier League team set out aspiring to lift such silverware? I doubt it. It probably even ranks below the League Cup in terms of priorities.
Chelsea are the only English team to win the unloved competition since Liverpool denied Alaves a famous victory in the thrilling 2001 UEFA Cup final. Liverpool reached last year’s final, losing to Seville, while Fulham’s excelled all expectations to do the same in 2010.
Spurs certainly looked lacklustre on their journey to the last 32 of Europe’s second-tier competition, and the draw against the Belgians, who are mid-table in their domestic league, was the latest in a long line of below-par performances.
While every club goes into a competition with the intent of doing the best they can possibly can, not too many tears will have been shed down White Hart Lane way over their premature exit from the Europa League as it leaves Spurs to concentrate on the ultimate domestic double – winning the Premier League and F.A Cup.
If fans feared morale may have been dented by the draw, they need not have worried. In terms of responses Spurs could not have been more empathic, putting four unanswered goals past Stoke in the first half of their next game.
Spurs looked like a totally different outfit to the one that had let the fans down in midweek, and this was summed up perfectly by the performance of star striker Harry Kane. After his rather comical own goal against Gent, Kane was back to doing what he does best: terrorising defences and finding the back of the opposition net.
Kane’s 23-minute hat-trick helped Spurs into a 4-0 half-time cushion that they sat upon in the second half to earn a precious three points and move to within 10 again of Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino hailed Kane as “one oft e best in the world” as the England international became the first Spurs player to pass the 20-goal mark in three consecutive seasons since Jimmy Greaves did it in the late 60s.
Thankfully Dele Ali’s red card for a reckless challenge against Gent will not hit Spurs in the league as the impending suspension, which could be as many as five weeks, will be carried over into next season’s European competition. Whether that’s the Champions League or Europa Cup remains to be seen.
While chipping away at Chelsea’s double-digit lead will take some doing, Spurs will now fancy their chances of securing a top four spot at the very least. Imperious at home – they have won a record eight on the bounce at the Lane – and with a striker in such a rich vein of form, they will take some beating.
A favourable run-in should serve them in good stead too. Two of their next three Premier League games are at home and of their remaining 12 games only four are against top half of the table sides – Everton (h), Arsenal (h), West Ham (a) and Manchester United (h). You can see all the match previews for these games and all the best online bookmakers at big free bet.