Lamela’s on target again but Spurs are held to a draw in Monaco
Erik Lamela scored his third goal in four games but Tottenham lost their lead to draw 1-1 away against Monaco in their second Europa League group game.
Lamela put a strong Spurs side ahead 10 minutes before the break in a strange match that lacked tempo, urgency and an atmosphere - but Mauricio Pochettino’s team offered little in the second period and conceded an 81st-minute equaliser as Stephan El Shaarawy headed home.
Despite that setback, Tottenham remain top of Group J with four points from their opening two games and arguably their toughest test – this evening’s trip to Monaco – behind them.
Given Spurs’ general tendency for widespread squad rotation in the Europa League, the line-up was stronger than expected, with only three changes from the team that had beaten Manchester City at White Hart Lane as Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli came into the side.
The game started in a slow, measured fashion, with Monaco sitting back and Spurs dominating possession - and it took almost 20 minutes for the first chance to arrive as Rose burst through the middle and played a through ball to Harry Kane. The striker miscontrolled the ball but drew the goalkeeper and played it back to Chadli, who tried to lob into a goal which was only guarded by two defenders, only to clear the crossbar.
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Hugo Lloris was forced into a low save from Adama Traore at the other end, but Spurs took the lead in the 35th minute.
Fine skill from Lamela allowed Chadli to attack down the right and the Belgian skipped into space to outnumber the home side’s defence before finding Dele Alli. The 19-year-old cut inside and, although his low shot was saved, Lamela was on hand to finish.
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That woke Monaco up and Thomas Lemar cut inside from the left to force a low save from Lloris at his near post. Chadli then failed to clear properly inside his own box and Joao Moutinho crossed for Fabio Coentrao, who sent a free header wastefully wide.
Tottenham nearly doubled their lead as Alli turned sharply in the box and teed up Kane, whose low shot was saved – but the hosts then threatened again.
The 6ft 8ins forward Lacina Traore headed over at the back post when he should have done better, and a dangerous low cross flicked off Jan Vertonghen as he slid to stop Lacina Traore reaching the ball, narrowly missing the far post.
There was little to report for much of the second half. Eric Dier’s header from Christian Eriksen’s corner was saved but neither side was really showing any quality in the final third, and Monaco were doing little to suggest that they would equalise as the game ticked past 80 minutes - yet Nabil Dirar then delivered a fine cross from the right and El Shaarawy got ahead of Trippier to head home.
It could have got worse to Spurs as Lloris parried Dirar’s shot back into a dangerous area with Guido Carillo closing in – but Rose made a superb sliding challenge to deny him and ensure Tottenham returned home with a point.
Tottenham: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Alli, Lamela (Njie 65), Eriksen (Carroll 91), Chadli (Townsend 70), Kane
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs