Spurs 4-1 Anji - Andre's verdict
13 December 2013|Tottenham Hotspur
Andre Villas-Boas had plenty of positives to ponder after our 4-1 win against Anji in the Europa League at the Lane on Thursday night.
Roberto Soldado claimed his first hat-trick for the club in an entertaining finale to Group K.
Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen returned from injury, Ryan Fredericks caught the eye off the bench in the second half and there was a Spurs debut for young striker Shaq Coulthirst, the latest Academy player to pull on a first-team shirt.
On top of all that, the win made it six out of six in the group stage and we therefore become only the fourth club to achieve that feat in Europa League alongside Salzburg – who did it for the second time with a win against Esbjerg on Thursday night – FC Zenit and Anderlecht.
It also matched the club’s best winning streak in Europe – eight on the bounce this term equals the eight wins when we returned to European action in the UEFA Cup in 2006-07.
Roberto fired us into an early 2-0 lead via assists from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Erik Lamela.
Anji hit back through Ewerton just before the break but Lewis Holtby’s fine finish soon made it 3-1 and Roberto claimed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Ryan was tripped in the box.
“The players showed good professionalism to approach the game in the manner they did,” said Andre.
“It was difficult for both teams having qualified first and second already, so it was great attitude, spirit, attacking football, all very positive and a deserved performance for the fans who came here and those who watched on TV. I’m extremely happy.”
Roberto’s treble took his tally to nine this season in the Premier and Europa Leagues.
“It was important for him,” said Andre. “A striker lives off goals and for Roberto to score three is going to be major for his confidence. It’s also important for him on a personal note. You could sense his satisfaction on the pitch and hopefully he’ll take that confidence into the following fixtures.”
Danny started at left-back and played the first half, his first action since September, while Christian came on for the final 25 minutes, his return after being injured on international duty last month.
“It will take time for Danny so we have to be patient, but a good 45 minutes to start with for a player who has had just three days back in training,” said Andre. “Christian returned as well and we look for their form to improve soon.”
It was full-back Ryan’s first appearance since Rubin Kazan in the Europa League back in November, 2011 and a proud debut for striker Shaq, who entered the fray for the final 15 minutes.
“They did well,” added Andre. “I’m extremely pleased for Ryan, he was dynamic down the flank, won the penalty, got some good crosses in.
“Full credit to the work that is being done at youth level by Tim (Sherwood) and John (McDermott) and the people around them, full credit to the Academy as well.”