Tottenham Hotspur's Europa League hopes were left hanging by a thread as Benfica stunned White Hart Lane to win 3-1. Individual mistakes contributed once again to Tottenham's downfall, but they were outplayed by a Benfica side captained by Luisao, who bagged a brace to help his side to a stunning victory.
With Spurs looking shaky as Benfica enjoyed some half-chances, the visitors pounced to take the lead. Ruben Amorim played a fine slide-rule pass from midfield, and Rodrigo was able to use his pace to get on the end of it, cut inside and curl the ball beyond Hugo Lloris and stun the home crowd.
After half-time, Spurs needed to attack, but struggled to get their rhythm going again. Unfortunately for Spurs, they then neglected to adequately mark Luisao from a corner, and the veteran defender glanced in a goal which left the hosts in real trouble. Spurs did not look likely to get anything from the game, but up stepped by far Spurs' best player of the night, Christian Eriksen, and the Dane hammered in a glorious free-kick to give his team renewed hope.
However, Spurs could not hold on. The introduction of Nicolas Gaitan caused problems, and after he won a free-kick which saw Jan Vertonghen pick up a yellow card and a suspension for the next game, they found their third goal. Ezequiel Garay got on the end of it but thumped his header straight at Lloris. The ball fell to Luisao to smash home his second and Benfica's third.
After that, Spurs twice came close to going even further behind as Gaitan and then Guilherme Siqueira both missed late chances, but Benfica were more than happy with the 3-1 win.
30' - GOAL - Tottenham 0-1 Benfica - Ruben Amorim cuts open the Tottenham defence with an excellent pass to find Rodrigo, who curled the ball past Hugo Lloris brilliantly.
49' Adebayor miss - Christian Eriksen did brilliantly to play in the Togolese forward, but he completely fluffed his lines, his shot nowhere near to finding the target.
54' - GOAL - Tottenham 0-2 Benfica - Harry Kane gives the ball away and Amorim almost scores, but Luisao glances in a header from the resultant corner.
60' - GOAL - Tottenham 1-2 Benfica - Kane then wins a free-kick which Eriksen converts in spectacular fashion.
84' - GOAL - Tottenham 1-3 Benfica - Nicolas Gaitan wins a free-kick from the left, for which Jan Vertonghen earns a yellow card and a suspension. Lloris saves Garay's initial header but Luisao is there to smash it home and complete Tottenham's misery.
Roberto Soldado had scored 5 goals in 5 Europan games for Tottenham Hotspur this season up until this match, yet Harry Kane started ahead of him.
Before tonight, Luisao had only scored one goal in his past two European campaigns with Benfica.
TALKING POINT: Can Tim Sherwood survive beyond the end of the season, if that, as Spurs boss? Eriksen was perhaps a bright spark today but almost everybody else, and certainly the team as a whole, are playing a very long way beneath themselves. Questionable team selection and a lack of alternative options are combining to show that Sherwood may not be cut out for the job.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Luisao (Benfica): A brilliant performance at both ends of the field for the Benfica captain, not only scoring a brace but using his sublime sense of positioning and concentration to present an impenetrable wall in defence to the Spurs attackers. Harry Kane is a fair bit quicker than the 33-year-old, but he did not once leave himself exposed. It's a surprise that no big club has picked him up as a cheap option - he has been superb for Benfica in European competitions in recent years.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris 5, Walker 6, Vertonghen 5, Kaboul 6, Naughton 5, Lennon 7, Paulinho 5, Sandro 6, Eriksen 8, Adebayor 5, Kane 5. Subs: Rose 6, Soldado 5, Bentaleb 5.
Benfica: Oblak 6, Siqueira 6, Garay 7, Luisao 9, Silvio 6, Sulejmani 5, Fejsa 6, Amorim 8, Rodrigo 7, Cardozo 6, Markovic 6. Subs: Gaitan 7, Lima 6, Perez 6.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Hugo Lloris
- Christian Eriksen
- Ruben Amorim
- Harry Kane