It was a disappointing night for Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa Conference League as they came away from the Netherlands with the bitter taste of defeat against Vitesse Arnhem as they were beaten 1-0.
Having waited 78 minutes, the hosts got their thoroughly deserved winner after Spurs were caught out down the left flank. Vitesse’s starman Eli Dasa crossed the ball into Maximillian Wittek who struck the ball cleanly with a first-time volley at GelreDome. The goal sent the stadium into party mode as the Dutch outfit were on course for a momentous victory – the first time they had ever defeated an English opponent.
It was only two years ago that Spurs had come away from the Netherlands having completed one of the greatest Champions League comebacks of all time, defeating Ajax in Amsterdam to progress to the final. Now, the club is in a sorry situation under Nuno Espirito Santo who made the decision to make considerable changes to his preferred starting lineup, leaving key players out of the squad that travelled across the North Sea. But after a lacklustre performance this evening from players the club sanctioned high-priced transfers on, he may have to bring his reliable performers back into the fold for these European clashes.
With the likes of experienced players Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Steven Bergwijn on the pitch, they should have offered a lot more in the final third than they did as they turned in another turgid performance. Directionless in Arnhem, it seemed once again like the players have no plan as to how they are supposed to attack sides.
The performance tonight showed how the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min may need to have their rests sacrificed to spare the team’s blushes in this European competition they were labelled as the clear favourites in before a ball was even kicked. The truth of it is Spurs are being made to pay for mistakes of the past but they need to find a way to forget about the past and think solely on the future. It is the only way the club can correct its course.
The first-half lacked quality from both sides as neither could impose themselves in the final third. Vitesse were making a better showing of themselves than their opponents but Spurs did grow into the game as the opening 45 drew to a close. The north Londoners came out in the second-half with higher intensity and Bryan Gil rattled the crossbar early on which uplifted the players in purple. They had a great chance to break as Lo Celso set Bergwijn away, but the lack of synchronisation in this team was clear again as he rolled the ball into the box expecting Lo Celso to be there but found only a yellow shirt.
The home side started to grow in confidence and they created a good opening for themselves but Lois Openda’s snapshot was blocked. Wing-back Dasa was next to ask questions of Pierluigi Gollini with a powerful effort from outside the box but it just went wide of the near post, before having another crack moments later forcing the Italian into a low save. Vitesse finally got their opening goal when Dasa, free on the right again, floated a ball into the path of Wittek, who struck the ball before it bounced and with a slight deflection off Davinson Sanchez, gave the keeper no chance.
Spurs have a lot of work to do if they are to progress to the knockout stages of this tournament. This result sees them third in Group G at the midway point of the group stage. They’re in Europa Conference League action again on November 4th when they take on Vitesse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.