Heavily-rotated Tottenham beaten by Vitesse as fringe players fail to take chance

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Vitesse's Maximilian Wittek, right, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Europa Conference League - AP
Vitesse's Maximilian Wittek, right, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Europa Conference League - AP
  • Vitesse Arnhem 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Harry Kane and his Tottenham team-mates left at home in London will be safe in the knowledge their starting places are not in jeopardy following this dismal defeat at the Gelredome in Arnhem.

Nuno Espirito Santo changed his entire team, resting key players for the weekend, but his second string failed to grasp their opportunity to impress and were defeated by Maximilian Wittek’s crisp volley which gave Vitesse the result they fully deserved.

Spurs have now lost their last three away European matches but still have time to put together a run of results to reach the next round.

That run of matches started at Dinamo Zagreb when the bigger problems under Jose Mourinho were exposed by their Croatian opponents. Vitesse’s win will not spark the same panic but does underline how reliant Nuno is on his clutch of senior players.

“It’s tough. The boys aren’t playing all the time and we want to give the best account of ourselves when we get the chance,” said Ben Davies, who was drafted in for the game. “It was difficult to do that.

“It’s a squad game now and everyone knows how many players you need to compete on all fronts. We’re still representing Tottenham regardless of the competition so, as players, I don’t think there is any doubts about our commitment.”

Arnhem for a match in Uefa’s third-tier competition proved a bridge too far for the likes of Kane and Heung-Min Son, who stayed back in London rather than warming the bench in Holland.

Nuno’s selection reflected the Group G fixture being sandwiched by Premier League trips to Newcastle and West Ham, both the type of games Spurs should be getting results in if they are to stay within sight of the top four and a place back at Europe’s top table.

As a reminder of their Glory Glory Nights in Europe, their last trip to Holland was when Lucas Moura sealed their famous, near-impossible comeback against Ajax. They have fallen some way since and for the players selected, their first step is to fight for a place in Spurs’ starting line-up.

For the likes of Harry Winks or Dele Alli, there was little evidence they would be forcing their way into Nuno’s plans at the weekend, with Spurs struggling to find fluency and looking nervous and error-prone at the back.

Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur looks dejected following defeat - Getty Images
Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur looks dejected following defeat - Getty Images

Bryan Gil provided a rare bright moment, curling a shot from the edge of the penalty area that dipped over Markus Schubert and struck the crossbar. But in truth, Spurs looked second best for most of this match, at times looking like they were struggling for motivation.

It was Vitesse who created the better chances throughout. Worryingly for Nuno, the hosts did not have to work hard to retain the ball. They were often given it directly when Spurs were in possession, trying to play out from the back.

Pierluigi Gollini prevented further punishment by saving from Nikolai Baden Frederiksen when he raced through on goal. Vitesse also thought they should have had a penalty when Wittek went over Gil’s challenge in the area, only for the referee to save play on. Jacob Rasmussen had their other big chance, flicking his header just wide from a corner.

They had to wait for their winner but when it came, with 12 minutes remaining, it was a fine strike. Eli Dasa, the industrious Israel full-back, set up the goal with a cross that Wittek volleyed low into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. To celebrate he stood still, arms crossed, and waited for his team-mates to mob him.

The celebrations at the final whistle were more animated, with Vitesse players enjoying the moment.

“We have to learn and keep improving,” said Nuno. “The Conference is always like this with tough matches. This is what we want - players who work hard and deserve minutes. The Conference is a good chance to build the fitness of the squad and we’re going to need it because it is a tough schedule.”

Davies pointed towards the difficult surface and refereeing decisions among the reasons for failing to spark.

“It was a very tough game for us to play in, a very tough atmosphere and we didn’t give the best account of ourselves,” he said. “I think the effort was there but it was a shame the way the game ended.

“It was tough to get going. I don’t think the pitch helped, we didn’t really have any decisions go for us. But it’s tough. We lost second balls when they pressed and were under the cosh a lot.”

Vitesse vs Tottenham, as it happened

06:37 PM

FT: Vitesse 1 Tottenham 0

Huge roars from the home team, they passed and grafted their way to a deserved win. The first time in their history they have beaten an English club. Spurs will still likely progress but the worry for Nuno is that none of his fringe players made a strong case to be included in the league team.

06:35 PM

93 minutes

Dele Alli lofts a thoughtless cross in from no angle at all, scooped straight into the goalkeeper's arms. Just one more minute for Spurs to find a goal. Lo Celso does win a foul which means it is going into the mixer.

06:33 PM

92 minutes

Markandy to his credit has tried to be positive when he gets the ball but on this occasion he dribbles the ball out for a Vitesse goal kick.

06:32 PM

90 minutes - four minutes of added time to play

Vitesse are running the clock down with changes and Spurs look to have accepted their fate.

06:30 PM

Vitesse's goal

06:30 PM

87 minutes

Spurs go long trying to put some pressure on. Lo Celso tries to curl a ball to the back post for Davies but Schubert claims easily. Time running out for Spurs now.

06:27 PM

84 minutes

Vitesse are making a subs: Frederiksen off for Buitink. Spurs do not really look like scoring an equaliser but they have five minutes plus stoppage time to find one.

06:24 PM

81 minutes

Good piece of skill from the substitute Markandy to spin on the halfway line and the goalscorer Wittek brings him down cynically at the expense of a booking. The free-kick is whipped in but cleared easily. Vitesse threaten on the counter but Frederiksen blasts over.

06:22 PM

The home crowd

06:21 PM

79 minutes

Not too long left for Spurs to get back into this game. Winks has now been booked for a late challenge. Spurs have found no rhythm or control at all in this game.

06:20 PM

GOOOOAAAAALLL! Wittek gives Vitesse the lead

The Dutch side are rewarded for their pressure. Wittek, who had a couple of sighters in the first half, met Dasa's cross on the volley at the edge of the box. Good technique to keep it down with his left foot, and into bounced into the turf and past Gollini. Good goal.

06:18 PM

75 minutes

That was Scarlett's final act of the game, he is replaced by 20-year-old Dilan Markanday. Alli then picks up space between the lines but his shot from the edge of the box deflected into Schubert's arms.

06:15 PM

73 minutes

Vitesse win successive corners, they have been dominant over the last 10 to 15 minutes. Lacking a bit of quality in the final third. Then Scarlett very nearly capitalises on a defensive mistake from Vitesse but the goalkeeper Schubert got there first and the Spurs forward caught him on the follow through. Yellow card.

06:12 PM

70 minutes

Good hands from Gollini to keep hold of a strike from distance. The Vitesse have the chance to swing the ball into the box with a wide free-kick but a flag goes up for offside.

06:10 PM

67 minutes

Alli spins behind the Vitesse back five and is found by Davies but Bazoer gets back at him and then the Spurs man gives away a foul. It has not been his night but then it has been a very one-dimensional team performance.

06:06 PM

64 minutes

Gil was brushed off the ball near the touchline. Spurs are not winning much of the second ball and Dasa cracks a shot from range just wide of the post. It smacked off the stanchion and into the back of the net, meaning half the home crowd thought it was in. Then Sanchez misses a straight ball and Openda almost got through one on one.

06:04 PM

61 minutes

Rodon looks direct to Dele Alli but he had strayed offside. Lovely flick around the corner for Openda but his touch got away from him before a good challenge from Ben Davies. The home team are getting on top again.

06:00 PM

59 minutes

Dasa looks to feed a ball in behind for Openda but Tanganga does really well to ease him out and usher the ball to Gollini. Spurs then guilty of giving the ball away in dangerous areas but a heavy cross from the home team lets them off the hook.

05:59 PM

56 minutes

Dangerous Tottenham break after incisive play from Lo Celso in midfield but Bergwijn then ran down a cul-de-sac of Vitesse defenders. Not much on the bench for Nuno to introduce other than youngsters.

05:57 PM

54 minutes

Vitesse look for Openda early in the left channel but the flag goes up for offside. Spurs do not really need to win this game, they are top of the group and have margin for error, and the game has that feel unfortunately.

05:52 PM

49 minute

Vitesse go up the other end and win a corner which Tanganga heads away. Scarlett then produces his best moment of the game to spin down the right flank and win Spurs a corner. Taken short as Spurs look to change the angle but Lo Celso is crowded out.

05:49 PM

47 minutes

What an effort from Bryan Gil who rattles the crossbar! Much better from Spurs, Lo Celso rolled the pass into the path of Gil around 22 yards out and his left-footed shot dipped over the goalkeeper but not the woodwork. Are we in for a most exciting second 45 minutes?

05:47 PM

We're back under way!

Spurs get us started, no changes from Nuno. Early offside give against Scarlett.

05:46 PM

Not much to write home about in that first half

Tottenham's Dele Alli, left, challenges for the ball with Vitesse's Jacob Rasmussen  - AP
Tottenham's Dele Alli, left, challenges for the ball with Vitesse's Jacob Rasmussen - AP

05:32 PM

HT: Vitesse 0 Tottenham 0

Not a great half from Spurs who have struggled to create anything. They did start to gain more control of the ball and territory as the half progressed but, without wishing to be harsh on Scarlett, you can tell they have a 17-year-old centre forward trying to battle with three centre-backs. No Kane or Son on the bench tonight.

05:29 PM

43 minutes

Better from Spurs as they drive Vitesse back into their own penalty area but Bergwijn's shot is blocked by Rasmussen, then some neat interplay gets Tanganga to the bar-line but his low cross is hammered away. That was more like it, Spurs have not put the Dutch side under anything like enough pressure.

05:25 PM

40 minutes

Bergwijn tries to latch onto a ball over the top from Winks but Schubert's starting position was good and the goalkeeper came out to sweep up. The Ben Davies gives a foul away and Bergwijn gets booked for complaining to vociferously. Spurs drifting towards half time.

05:23 PM

36 minutes

Vitesse having another good spell and the home crowd are in good voice. Spurs finding it difficult to stop them progressing through the thirds of the pitch. The game has entered something of a lull with few quality chances.

05:18 PM

33 minutes

Spurs have a throw deep in Vitesse territory, but they are struggling for presence in the penalty area. Winks is then caught on the ball in his own half but Wittek took a silly first time shot at the corner of the box which flies over.

05:14 PM

30 minutes

Another foul on Gil, a bit rash from Dasa to kick him across the back of the leg as he faced the touchline. Very good delivery from the left foot of Lo Celso but after a ricochet off Schubert Vitesse have a goal kick.

The they look early to Openda but Bero could not take the ball with him after a pull-back.

05:12 PM

26 minutes

Spurs have a free kick around 25 yards out near the left corner of the box. Quick feet from Gil to win a foul, and Rasmussen is forced to turn the ball behind for a corner after excellent delivery. Vitesse clear, but Spurs snuff out the counter to start another attack.

05:08 PM

23 minutes

Vitesse win a corner after Wittek's shot from distance deflects behind. Oooof, Spurs survive a real scare as Rasmussen wins the header at the near post and it flashes just wide. Any kind of secondary touch in the six-yard box and that would have been a goal.

05:06 PM

20 minutes

Spurs enjoying more possession in the Vitesse half now. Bergwijn is actually playing from the left with Gil on the right, so two wingers who will look to cut inside. Not sure Davies and Tanganga offer a great deal on the overlap from full-back though. Vitesse are dropping into a back five with midfielders in front of them, making it hard for Spurs to find space between the lines.

05:03 PM

17 minutes

Spurs looked to have a five against three on the break then but Alli took too long to make the pass. Vitesse get themselves back on the front foot but Tanganga defends well in a one against one and Spurs have a goal kick.

05:01 PM

15 minutes

Spurs struggling to play out from the back at the moment, holding on to the ball for too long in the wrong areas. Credit to Vitesse who are working hard to keep them penned in. Gollini eventually waves his men up the pitch for a long kick but it is not really sticking up there.

04:57 PM

12 minutes

A bit of controversy here. Bryan Gil lunged in in the penalty area on Wittek but replays showed he got just enough of a touch on the ball. Then Bero is shown a yellow for hacking down Scarlett to stop a counter.

04:56 PM

10 minutes

Bergwijn mis-places an attempted through ball towards Scarlett after good work in midfield by Alli. Vitesse work the ball forward well themselves and Tanganga turns Dasa's deep cross behind for a corner. Doehki, the centre back, goes across to take the corner which feels all kinds of wrong, and Dasa's shot is deflected over for another corner.

04:52 PM

7 minutes

Lo Celso tries to poke a pass through to Alli but the ball runs through to Vitesse goalkeeper Schubert. Then Scarlett is penalised for a foul. Spurs have not really got going as yet, which can happen when an unfamiliar XI starts together. Lots of players in this team short of minutes too. Gil tries a dribble down the right but his progress is halted.

04:49 PM

5 minutes

The ball is kicked long by Tanganga in the direction of Scarlett but he loses the physical battle. Vitesse come forward with a flowing move though, and Gollini has to come out and smother at the feet of Frederiksen. Positive start from the home team. Winks penalised for a heavy tackle.

04:47 PM

2 minutes

A bad moment for Joe Rodon on his own penalty area, chopping the ball straight to a yellow and black shirt at the edge of the box but the ball did not quite drop for Vitesse to get a shot off. Clear from that move that they want to press high when possible. Spurs then venture over the halfway line and settle into their first period of possession.

04:45 PM

KICK OFF!

The home team get us started.

04:42 PM

The players are on their way out

Quite an atmosphere in Arnhem, a compact stadium looks to full to the rafters. The Conference League anthem is just a repeat of the Europa League one...tells you all you need to know.

04:38 PM

Warm ups done

04:37 PM

Steven Bergwijn needs to find some consistency

He scored against Manchester City on his Spurs debut under Jose Mourinho, but has lacked consistency since and looks to have lost his place in the Premier League team to Lucas Moura. Will play from the right with Bryan Gil, who looks promising if a little lightweight, on the left.

04:02 PM

Feels like Nuno is closer to settling on a preferred system

There were predictions he would try to rekindle the 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 which worked so well at Wolves (until it didn't) and in the early weeks of the season we saw Spurs in a 4-3-3 with Dele Alli in a deeper role.

Spurs' central trio got pulled apart like wet tissue in the north London derby though, and since then 4-2-3-1 with two screening players in front of the defence has worked well.

03:56 PM

Tonight's venue

03:50 PM

Vitesse team facing Tottenham

Starting XI: Schubert, Doekhi, Bazoer, Rasmussen, Dasa, Bero, Tronstad, Wittek, Frederiksen, Darfalou, Openda

Subs: Oroz, Hajek, Von Moos, Gboho, Domgjoni, Houwen, Yapi, Buitink, Vroegh, Cornelisse, Huisman, van haveren

03:49 PM

Tottenham team news

Tottenham have made 11 changes from the side that beat Newcastle.

Those players that started at St James' Park did not travel to Holland so the likes of Davinson Sanchez, Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn all come in. It looks like it will be a 4-2-3-1 with Lo Celso and Winks in deeper midfield and a trip of Bergwijn, Dele Alli and Bryan Gil behind the striker.

There is also a third senior start for 17-year-old striker Dane Scarlett.

03:45 PM

Tottenham team: Still a very senior XI with Dane Scarlett up front

02:23 PM

Second-string Tottenham look to stay top of Europa Conference League group

By Sam Dean

None of the outfield players who started for Tottenham Hotspur against Newcastle United have made the trip to play against Vitesse Arnhem in the Europa Conference League, although Nuno Espirito Santo has dismissed the suggestion that he has two teams within his squad.

The likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele will remain in London instead of travelling to Holland, with coach Ian Cathro also staying in England to help them prepare for Sunday’s match against West Ham United.

Asked if it was fair to say he now has one group of players for European football and one for the Premier League, Nuno said: “No, it is not fair to say. It is a situation we decided for this specific week. We considered that it is the best way to go and compete well tomorrow and compete well on Sunday.”

Asked if it was a risk, he said: "No. It's not about that. If someone gets that interpretation, I cannot do anything.

"And when you decide to think about the risk, if you always think about the risk, you cannot decide. Decisions in life, all of them have risk.

"So it's about trying to analyse and see what is better for us in terms of our process during the week and for the future."

Tottenham are currently top of their Europa Conference League group with four points from two matches, but are only ahead of second-placed Rennes on goal difference. Vitesse, who are currently sixth in the Dutch Eredivisie, could overtake Nuno’s side with a victory at the GelreDome.

One of the players in the Tottenham squad is Steven Bergwijn, who left PSV Eindhoven in 2020, has an insight into tonight's opponents.

He added: "When I played in Holland, Vitesse were always difficult to play, especially at their stadium.

"They like to play football and they always have good players. It's not going to be an easy game but we are Tottenham so we need to win and I think we have enough quality."

Full team news on the way shortly.

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