Lazio 0 Lloris 0
Lazio 0 Spurs 0
In a nutshell?
Lloris displayed mad skillz. Dembele is back. We had (yet another) perfectly legitimate goal disallowed for offside. Carroll's vision and pass to find Bale for that goal was sensational. He was also tidy in possession and focused with other key responsibilities such as tracking and tackling. We were in control in the early part of the game, aside from a blistering Ledesma effort. We did make it count (that disallowed goal) so it didn't actually count and then Lazio got a stranglehold and asked all the questions from that point onwards, especially throughout the second half. We held out thanks to a defining shift between the sticks from the keeper that isn't Brad. We need to beat the Greeks at the Lane (or draw) to qualify.
In more than one nutshell...
Lazio had a series of opportunities, perhaps one sitter that saw Lloris commit with the open goal ignored. The other chances allowed this game to turn into the Hugo show. Springing into action from his goal-line, shot-stopping and showcasing the qualities you wish to see in a player that cost around £11M. Decisive and commanding his area with confidence. Likes to claim a cross and likes to punch a ball clear. Will be interesting (as ever) to see if Villas-Boas sticks with him or prefers the the bigger Friedel to deal with West Ham's physicality on Sunday.
That's it. It wasn't a spectacular game. Isolated, it was another boring Europa League group game. Aside from the fact we lived dangerously thanks to some undisciplined defending, this was still Lazio (perspective) a more than decent side that we could have comfortably beaten at the Lane if it wasn't for some dodgy officiating. Something this game also managed to produce (can I mention the disallowed goal again?). We had the better of them at the Lane, they returned the favour on their home turf. I'm talking about the football. Thankfully Ashley Mills is doing good in hospital. Two arrests made (both AS Roma supporters). Although this is looking like football was just an excuse, an opportunity, for these animals to attack us in the first place. Regardless of what club they support (there was around 40 of them), fact remains they can attack because even if it appears not to be acceptable to most its an acceptance to many in Italy/Rome.
There was distinct lack of assured quality with our passing. Nothing crisp. More like a packet of crisps being sat on. What does that mean? Who cares. I bet you imagined sitting on a packet of crisps and that was infinitely better that some of our football. It wasn't shocking/appalling/disgraceful - as one or two have colourfully described in the aftermath. It was just of the same below-par standard we've become accustomed too in Europe (go on clever-clogs, tell me its the same standard as the league too).
I'm not complaining because, qualification is in our hands. And - as always - the problems we have day to day back home doesn't just disappear when we travel abroad. There was a lack of controlled tempo and shape from us, nothing like the intensity displayed against Arsenal. Thoughts on West Ham at the weekend dancing around in the heads of the players? We always get these nonplussed performances in Europe, like we've been dished up with the dessert before the main course.
We are still crying out for Dembele in midfield, so his return is a smile-maker. Scott Parker also apparently in training. Carroll's inclusion also a bright spot, one that suggests more game time and with January a month or so away, we need someone with that something extra now. Even if he does look like he needs an extra Shredded Wheat in his breakfast bowl.
The not so bright spots included Adebayor who was meant to give it his all thanks to his now-active league suspension. He was on the pitch. I did see him running around. Sadly, not only was he lacking a bullish influence he also failed to test their keeper. Same with Dempsey who continues to seek that defining moment when he claims the Lilywhite shirt. He couldn't even claim Ledesma's shirt as he chased him around in a futile attempt to man mark him. Hoping that moment comes in the next couple of games. Would be fitting on Sunday or (for the sake of narrative) against Liverpool in midweek.
Sigurdsson also has narrative not too dissimilar to Dempsey. He was on the right, started with some intent but faded into obscurity, much like our already cited undisciplined defence which invited Lazio and their tricky foot-work to attack attack attack.
That's it. A decent point with some not so decent points.
I'm now looking ahead to three successive wins to re-ignite a spark. Yes, I said three successive wins. This article is sponsored by rum. It's okay to drink it in the morning because it helps you get through the day. And the next one. And the one after that.