Tottenham snatch UCL draw from jaws of defeat, victory (video)
Tottenham vs Sporting CP recap: Spurs made impossible, dramatic work (once again) of a 1-1 draw in Group D of the UEFA Champions League in north London on Wednesday.
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Former Tottenham academy starlet Marcus Edwards opened the scoring for Sporting in the 22nd minute, as the home side got off to a miserably slow start. It could have been 2-0 and 3-0 by the midway point of the second half, before Rodrigo Bentancur headed home Ivan Perisic’s corner kick in the 80th minute.
Antonio Conte and Co., thought they had won it with 20 seconds of stoppage time remaining, when Harry Kane hooked the ball home from a tight angle inside the six-yard box. However, a four-plus-minute video review determined that Kane was a few inches ahead of the ball when Emerson Royal headed it down to him at the near post.
The draw leaves Tottenham (8 points) still atop the group with one game left to place (away to 4th-place Marseille, who have 6 points of their own). Sporting CP and Eintracht Frankfurt are 2nd and 3rd, respectively (7 points each). As they say, it’s all to play for on matchday 6.
What we learned from Tottenham vs Sporting
Predictable patterns of play, with no spark
When Spurs began the 2022-23 Premier League season seven games unbeaten, even though their performances underwhelmed and lacked excitement. The hope was that Conte was simply bringing the side along slowly after making five first-team signings in the summer, that better, more adventurous football was on the horizon. Just have a bit of patience. They were getting good results, after all — until they weren’t, and still aren’t (4W-2D-4L in their last nine games - all competitions).
It was all too predictable how they would try to play on Wednesday: defend deep without the ball, try to spring quick counter-attacks the other way. Conte even brought Lucas Moura into the team, a third attacker in place of the usual trio of defensive midfielders, but the plan proved ill-fitting for Spurs’ squad once again, unable to stretch the field and open up spaces between or in behind Sporting’s defense.
By the time Tottenham took a foothold and dominated the run of play, Sporting went into a deeper defensive shell of their own, which posed another glaring issue: the lack of a creative provider in midfield or one of the wings. Dejan Kulusevski typically fills this role out wide, but he has missed Spurs’ last eight games with a thigh injury; and Bryan Gil injected some much needed energy and attacking intent through the middle after he came on in the 71st minute.
The draw felt harsh on Sporting at the time, given how well they played away from home against a PL side, until Tottenham nearly took all three points in stoppage time, nearly pulling off the perfect highway robbery.
How to watch Tottenham vs Sporting CP live, stream link, kick off time
There’s no two ways about it: Conte’s football has been downright difficult to watch, for Tottenham fans and neutrals alike. The overly safe, negative tactics don’t suit a side short on youth and athleticism as they struggle to create chances on the counter, and the midfield is missing the accomplished ball progressor to build out of the (deep) back when they regain possession. Now, with Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison out injured, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are being leaned upon rather heavily with a game every three or four days for six straight weeks leading up to the World Cup.
And still, Tottenham (7 points) sit atop Group D with two games left to play. Marseille (6 points, +2 GD) and Sporting (0 GD) are just behind in 2nd and 3rd, with Eintracht Frankfurt (4 points) still very much within striking distance. Every can still win it
Tottenham team news, lineup options
OUT: Dejan Kulusevski (thigh), Richarlison (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Cristian Romero (calf), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (thigh)
Tottenham vs Sporting CP prediction
Scoring chances are few and far between these days (for both sides) when Spurs are involved — a far cry from the final days of last season, when they attacked with freedom and confidence. Something will have to change eventually, or else it’s difficult to see the results doing the same. Tottenham 1-1 Sporting CP.