Tottenham were chastened and their hopes of a Euro adventure for the third time in five years were dealt a devastating blow after a 4-0 defeat at Mura in the Europa League on Tuesday. Gareth Bale was missing with a hamstring injury and Erik Lamela is also a doubtful starter for next week’s trip to Chelsea. He suffered a hamstring strain in Spurs’ 1-0 win over Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday and looked forced into early retirement during the first half of the Group J game, spent watching the match from the stands as the bench coach.
Mauricio Pochettino was also warned by UEFA that Mura could be penalized for allowing the trip to Scandinavia to fall in the middle of a busy fixture schedule after their Europa League exertions against PSV Eindhoven.
Harry Kane was again a disappointment, unable to find his shooting boots and wasting several good opportunities to score, something that was most evident at Wembley. This display will undoubtedly worry Harry Redknapp, and give rise to concerns that Spurs are hitting the wall. They still have two finals at Wembley remaining but could lose momentum if a poor finish to their season leads to a dwindling of the crowd on nights when they play their home fixtures.
After a disappointing home defeat to Watford and then West Ham, it was a surprise that any of those games would decide matters in the Europa League. Tottenham managed to get their home form back on track with an important 2-1 win over West Ham in the EFL Cup final, but they looked flat against a middling but dangerous Mura team.
It may be that Tottenham’s dismal league form is affecting their ability to overcome weaker teams. Against Watford, the Liverpool-bound Sadio Mane inspired a Liverpool comeback in a match that was lost with just four minutes left, and the Southampton game, equally crucial to their league aspirations, ended in defeat after Jordan Pickford’s injury time winner.
Their inability to kill off teams and take their opportunities was illustrated perfectly by the sense of how subdued the game was from the start. The away side were the better side for a good while but failed to make their dominance count. Spurs were lethargic in possession and passed the ball nervously.
They were lucky to only trail by a goal after 25 minutes and then extra time and it was not until the 87th minute that their frustrated fans could finally celebrate.