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#Men'sFirstTeam #EuropaLeague #MatchReport #LokomotivPlovdiv

Late turnaround in Bulgaria - report and debrief

Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1-2 Spurs

Thu 17 September 2020, 18:57|Tottenham Hotspur

Two goals in the final 10 minutes saw us come from behind to beat Lokomotiv Plovdiv on Thursday evening and book our place in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League.

Our first-ever game against a Bulgarian side in our history looked to be heading for disappointment as we trailed 1-0 to Georgi Minchev’s 72nd-minute header.

But late drama changed everything and saw the hosts reduced to nine men as we struck two goals to turn the match on its head. First, Ben Davies saw his header handled on the line by Lima Almeida Dinis Costa who was red carded for the offence and then Birsent Karagaren received a second yellow card for scuffing up the penalty spot while the referee was attempting to sort things out.

He was consequently dismissed and once everything settled down, Harry Kane hammered home the spot-kick to level the scores. Then with just five minutes remaining, two substitutes combined as Lucas Moura received the ball out on the right and delivered a low cross which Tanguy Ndombele met from six yards and the ball crawled across the line into the net, with goalkeeper Martin Lukov wrong-footed.

It means we now face Macedonian outfit Shkendija in the third qualifying round, scheduled for next Thursday, after they beat Botosani of Romania 1-0.

Late strikes avoid Euro scare

There was little sign of the drama to come at half-time as we dominated the first period with our Bulgarian hosts rarely threatening. We were quickly on the front foot with Heung-Min Son testing Lukov inside two minutes before Steven Bergwijn cracked an effort from 18 yards against the crossbar nine minutes later. And when our Dutch forward went down under the challenge of Lucas Masoero inside the area just before the half hour mark, we seemed to have strong claims for a penalty but German referee Harm Osmers waved play on.

The home side – who won the Bulgarian cup last season and finished fifth in their league – had a clear game plan to drop deep out of possession and make us find a way through their massed ranks, while looking to hit us on the break whenever they won the ball back. We almost found a way through in the 45th minute but Davies headed wide at the back post from Son’s cross before the hosts created their first opening of the game in first-half stoppage time but Karagaren fired over from 18 yards.

Son had another chance eight minutes after the interval but lifted Davies’ low cross over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box before Lokomotiv took the lead in the 71st minute when a corner was flicked on at the near post and Minchev arrived late to head past Hugo Lloris. It was a bit of a shock and gave the home side a real lift but fortunately we were able to find a way back.

There was no question about the penalty as Dinis Costa’s hand stopped Davies from scoring, while Karagaren’s dismissal for ungentlemanly conduct just gave us even more of an advantage going into the final 10 minutes. Kane made no mistake from 12 yards with the resulting penalty and then we took full control of the contest, with Ndombele’s close-range finish completing the comeback.

Lloris closes in on Perryman record

Thursday’s match was the 59th appearance in Europe in our colours for Hugo Lloris, which saw him move up to second in our all-time list, five behind Steve Perryman.

Our current captain actually made his debut for us in this competition when he started in a group stage game against Lazio in August, 2012. Lloris barely had a save to make against Plovdiv but was beaten by Minchev’s header before we came back to win with two late goals.

Jose Mourinho made four changes to our starting line-up, giving first starts of the season to Davinson Sanchez, fit-again Giovani Lo Celso, Moussa Sissoko and Steven Bergwijn, who came in for Toby Alderweireld, Harry Winks, Dele and Lucas.

This was an historic game for the club as it marked the first time we had ever faced a Bulgarian team, either competitively or in friendlies.

Reaction on Spurs TV

Relief for Kane

Harry Kane was pleased with the character shown by the players to ensure our Europa League adventure didn't end before it had even begun.

"We found ourselves in a difficult spot," he said after the game. "We didn’t take our chances early in the game and that came back to bite us towards the end with the set-play - disappointing to concede as we did - and we had to go again.

"We showed character to step back on it and create a couple more chances, got the penalty, their guys got sent off and once we got back to 1-1, we were in the driving seat and thankfully got the goal before the end of the game."

Jose Mourinho added: "We created chances, we had a big penalty (appeal) that could change everything, we hit the post and we were totally dominant, but the game had this danger of a one-match knock-out, so when they scored, of course it was a risky situation.

“We took our risks by taking Davinson off and playing with only one defender, one against one, but at that moment I believed the players had the quality and intensity and then with Lucas, Lamela, Tanguy, we had fresh players coming from the bench to try to change it."

Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1-2 Spurs

Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Doherty, Dier, Sanchez (Lucas 73), Davies, Hojbjerg, Sissoko (Ndombele 61), Bergwijn (Lamela 70), Lo Celso, Son, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Hart, Carter-Vickers, Sessegnon, Winks.

Plovdiv (3-5-2): Lukov, Petrovic, Masoero, Dinis Costa, Karagaren, Vitanov, Salinas, Umarboev (Minchev 68), Tsevtanov, Aralica (Ilic 68), Iliev (c). Substitutes (not used): Pirgov, Muslimovic, Pugliese, Nikolaev, Mihaljevic.

Match data

Goals: Plovdiv – Minchev 72; Spurs – Kane 80 (pen), Ndombele 85.

Yellow cards: Plovdiv – Karagaren, Dinis Costa, Masoero.

Red cards: Plovdiv – Karagaren, Dinis Costa.

Referee: Harm Osmers (Germany).

Venue: Lokomotiv Stadium, Plovdiv.

Weather: Clear skies, sunny, 24 degrees.