Dele Alli shines as Spurs cruise into Europa League last-16
Alli scores stunning overhead kick, while Carlos Vinicius bags a brace and Gareth Bale also finds the back of the net in a 4-0 rout
24 February, 2021 — By Dan Carrier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Europa League: Round of 32, Second-Leg
SPURS 4 (Alli 9, Vinicius 50, 83, Bale 73)
RZ PELLETS WAC 0
Spurs win 8-1 on aggregate
THE Europa League offers up months of tinpot games before the big clubs get to grips with one another.
It also offers managers the chance to consider their options, and gives players a chance to show they are worthy of weekend starts.
And a chance is exactly what this competition has meant to Dele Alli, Gareth Bale and Carlos Vinicius this term.
This evening (Wednesday), against what will be the last of the easier Europa League opposition, the trio played a central role in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Austrian side Wolfsberger.
A key problem Alli has faced in using European outings to stake a claim in Jose Mourinho’s domestic starting line-up is that the Spurs’ second string lacks game time together as a unit.
It means there is a disjointed feel about the team, and playing in front of Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks doesn’t afford the same opportunities to showcase your credentials as it would if Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele where backing you up.
But from the off tonight, Alli took his chance by the scruff of the neck.
Within three minutes, a more visionary footballer than Ben Davies would’ve spotted Alli’s clever run into space – the full-back opted for safety first instead of the ball over the top that his teammate was calling for.
On nine minutes Alli collected a pass centrally, and with defenders ahead of him, spun the ball to the right for Matt Doherty. Alli went for the return, controlled under pressure with his back to goal, and then launched into a technically perfect overhead kick to break the deadlock.
After the game, Mourinho purred: “I do not need to talk about the goal – everyone will watch it around the world. Dele played very well in every aspect of the game.”
If Alli felt he had a point to prove, surely that is no longer the case.
The same conundrum Alli has faced is staring down Vinicius. The forward shone last year for Benfica, attracting Mourinho’s attention, and he has looked decent enough when given the chance in the cups.
But game time in the Premier League has naturally been harder to come by, and Vinicius hasn’t yet convinced Mourinho that he is an able enough deputy for Harry Kane to start the odd match against inferior opposition.
His loan is up at the end of the season, with an option to buy for £38m. In today’s economic climate, there is no way Spurs will pay that fee – even if Vinicius does prove during his limited opportunities he is a good addition.
Against Wolfsberger the striker, at times, still looked like the new boy, unsure of his place in Tottenham’s hierarchy. But he proved that he has the physique and technique as he helped himself to two well-taken goals.
Five minutes into the second-half Alli went wide on the left and spotted Vinicius making strides towards the back post. His looping cross found the striker, who did what was required to direct his header home.
Alli earned another assist on 73, this time spotting substitute Bale motoring between defenders. An inch-perfect ball allowed Bale to take it in his stride and stroke a left foot finish past Wolfsberger goalkeeper Manuel Kuttin.
After Bale’s excellent showing at West Ham on Sunday, coupled with his goal this evening, it is time Mourinho unpacked the cotton wool Bale has been swaddled in and give him a decent run in the Premier League.
It was 4-0 to Tottenham on 83. Substitute Dane Scarlett caused discomfort with his enthusiasm, and a loose ball brought about by his hustling fell for Vinicius. With a neat swish of the boot, his first-time hit left Kuttin stranded.
So Spurs cruise into the last-16 in a tournament that represents their only realistic route into the Champions League next season.
Alli was convincing, and adding him to a central midfield of Ndombele, Hojbjerg and Giovani Lo Celso offers an exciting blend.
As for the others auditioning, Bale showed his talent is bubbling away, waiting to be tapped, while Vinicius can’t do more than score twice.
Above all, as was shown tonight, Alli’s talent demands Tottenham’s self proclaimed world number one coach must get this special player back in the fold and firing.
Spurs: Hart, Doherty (Lavinier, 74), Alderweireld, Dier, Davies, Sissoko (John, 82), Winks, Lamela (Bale, 69), Alli (Scarlett, 81), Bergwijn (Moura, 69), Vinicius
Substitutes not used: Lloris, Tanganga, Reguilon, Markanday, Ndombele, Kane, Son
RZ Pellets WAC: Kuttin, Henriksson, Baumgartner (Giorbelidze, 65), Lochoshvili, Novak (Pavelic, 45), Stratznig (Rnic, 79), Wernitznig, Scherzer (Peric, 65), Liendl, Dieng, Vizinger (Joveljic, 45)
Substitutes not used: Skubl, Kofler, Rocher, Schofl, Taferner