First-half goals enough as Vitesse finish with nine men - report and reaction
Spurs 3-2 Vitesse
Thu 04 November 2021, 22:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Five goals, three red cards and three crucial points – it was nothing if not eventful in Antonio Conte’s first game as our new Head Coach!
The Italian took charge for the first time following his appointment on Tuesday and watched on as his new team raced into a 3-0 lead against Vitesse in Thursday night's Europa Conference League Group G clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, only to concede twice before half-time to leave the game in the balance.
Although no goals after the interval, there were three second half dismissals – one for us and two for the visitors - as the game swung one way and the other, but we held out for the win to move up to second in the table.
It was a crazy first half and our blistering start was rewarded with the opener on 14 minutes, Heung-Min Son sliding home an angled drive after Markus Schubert had saved from Lucas Moura and Harry Kane before we doubled our advantage eight minutes later, Kane releasing Lucas and he beat Schubert with a composed finish. It was 3-0 on 28 minutes when Jacob Rasmussen got the final touch on the ball when challenging with Kane at the far post.
Back came the visitors though, Rasmussen scoring at the right end with a header from a corner and Matus Bero produced an excellent finish to make it 3-2 in the 39th minute.
Our task of holding on to the lead was made all the more difficult just before the hour mark when Cristian Romero received his marching orders for a second yellow card. Vitesse had a long spell of pressure but only one real chance, Riechedly Bazoer’s curling effort kept out by a superb diving save from Hugo Lloris.
Then came two red cards in five minutes for the visitors, Danilho Doekhi picking up two bookings in quick succession before Schubert was given a straight red after rushing 20 yards outside of his area to close down the marauding Emerson Royal and then blocking his attempted shot with his arm. That gave us the advantage and we ensured there was no more drama in the closing stages to wrap up the points and give Conte a winning start.
A crazy night for Conte’s debut!
Although naturally delighted with the win, new Head Coach Antonio Conte would probably have preferred something a little less hectic to kick-start his Tottenham Hotspur career. Greeted with a very warm welcome by the Spurs fans when introduced just before kick-off, the Italian saw his side burst out of the blocks in the opening 30 minutes to leave Vitesse bewildered, but would have had plenty to ponder by the time of the final whistle in a truly crazy game of football.
Only two minutes had gone when Romero was quickly in to win possession on half-way, threading a ball in to Son who skipped past a defender and beat Schubert but the goalkeeper just got a touch on the ball which allowed Bazoer to get back and clear off the line. There were early warning signs from the visitors as well though, Nikolai Baden Frederiksen dragging a shot wide before Maximilian Wittek – who scored the only goal of the game in the away fixture – smashed into the side-netting.
The opener came on 14 minutes. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg played a pass in to Lucas whose shot was saved by Schubert and the keeper did well to get up and push the ball away from Kane, but as he did it hit Bazoer on the floor and bounced nicely for Son who fired home from 10 yards. A superb breakaway from a Vitesse corner almost brought about our second on 21 minutes, Lloris catching the cross and bowling it quickly out to Reguilon, on to Kane who beat three defenders, he returned it to the Spaniard and his low cross fell to Son who crashed a shot against the woodwork.
We weren’t to be denied a minute later, however, Lucas and Kane exchanging passes and the Brazilian finished with aplomb, while we looked out of sight on 28 minutes when Ben Davies got on the end of Reguilon’s cross and skewed a shot to the back post where Kane and Rasmussen challenged for the ball, the Vitesse defender getting the key final touch to take the ball over the line.
It was all so comfortable for us at that stage but the match started to turn the way of Vitesse just after the half-hour mark. There didn’t seem much danger when Sondre Tronstad picked the ball up 30 yards from goal but he hit a shot which was going over until it suddenly dipped and needed a superb tip-over from Lloris to keep it out. From the corner, Rasmussen climbed highest to head home. And a wild half still had time for another goal for Vitesse, Bero placing a neat right-foot finish out of the reach of Lloris to make it 3-2.
Buoyed by their comeback, the Dutch side made a good start to the second period and Lloris made a fine diving save to push away substitute Lois Openda’s fierce angled drive in the 53rd minute. And when Romero was sent off on 59 minutes, it looked like a long final 30 minutes or so for us.
Vitesse piled on the pressure – Eli Dasa fired over, Thomas Buitink’s low shot was straight at Lloris, who also made a wonderful diving save to keep out Bazoer’s curling effort as we couldn’t get out of our half. A triple substitution gave us fresh legs as Harry Winks, Tanguy Ndombele and Davinson Sanchez all came on and it was soon 10-a-side after Doekhi’s two yellow cards in a five-minute spell.
The momentum started to swing back our way and then did so even more after goalkeeper Schubert’s dismissal with five minutes remaining. One final chance came our way, Giovani Lo Celso latching on to Ndombele’s pass, cutting inside with just substitute goalkeeper Jeroen Houwen to beat, only to see his shot saved.
Nine on the bounce
Victory this evening was our ninth consecutive home win in all European competitions, including qualifiers, our best sequence since a 10-game run in the UEFA Cup which ended in April, 1974. We have now won 11 of our last 12 Euro home matches.
Goalkeeper and captain Lloris equalled Steve Perryman's total of 64 European appearances for the Club. That was a record until a few weeks ago when Harry Kane passed that mark – he made his 67th Euro appearance on Thursday evening.
Conte’s first starting XI saw him make one change from our line-up against Manchester United last weekend as Reguilon came in for Lo Celso.
Reaction on Spurs TV
'A lot of emotions'
New boss Antonio said after the game: "A lot of emotions, yes, because we were winning 3-0 and we were dominating the game, created many more chances to score more goals. Then, in 10 minutes, it happened what you don’t think can happen, we conceded two goals and gave the opportunity to Vitesse to grow into the game. In the second half you can’t imagine staying with 10 men for half-hour, at that moment, honestly, I’m pleased that my players suffer, because it’s important to learn to suffer to win. It’s not simple, this situation. Tonight, we understood when we need to kill the game, we need to kill the game.
"We should win, we won and now in just one day, we have to prepare for an important game at Everton. I need time, I need time to work, time to stay with my players and work on different aspects, particularly to bring my idea of football. But, I’m pleased because I found a Club with a fantastic stadium, with a fantastic infrastructure, a training ground that is wonderful, fantastic fans and for this reason, we have to give everything to repay the effort of the fans."
Spurs 3-2 Vitesse
Spurs (3-4-3): Lloris (c), Romero, Dier, Davies, Royal, Skipp (Winks 73), Hojbjerg (Lo Celso 87), Reguilon, Lucas (Sanchez 73), Kane, Son (Ndombele 72). Substitutes (not used): Gollini, Austin, Doherty, Tanganga, Rodon, Dele, Bergwijn, Scarlett.
Vitesse (3-4-3): Schubert, Dasa, Doekhi (c), Bazoer, Rasmussen, Bero, Tronstad (Oroz 90), Wittek, Baden Frederiksen (Darfalou 73), Buitink (Houwen 86), Gboho (Openda 46). Substitutes (not used): Van Haveren, Hajek, Vonmoos, Domgjoni, Yapi, Vroegh, Cornelisse, Huisman.
Goals: Spurs – Son 14, Lucas 22, Rasmussen (OG) 28; Vitesse – Rasmussen 32, Bero 39.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Romero; Vitesse – Buitink, Doekhi, Bazoer.
Red card: Spurs – Romero; Vitesse – Doekhi, Schubert.
Referee: Marco Di Bello (Italy).
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Weather: Clear sky, gentle breeze, five degrees.