Predicting a Mauricio Pochettino side is never an easy thing but it was still a surprise not to see Harry Kane in the starting line-up against Fiorentina in last night’s Europa League match.
With a tough run of six games in 17 days coming up the Argentine was trying to keep his 23-goal striker fresh but instead will now more than likely be forced to start him in the return match in Italy next week – just days before the League Cup final against Chelsea.
Pochettino’s decision to pick Roberto Soldado instead looked a masterstroke when the Spaniard scored a superb volley after just six minutes where he expertly stroked a corner into the back of the net.
Spurs were running riot and looked like scoring with almost every attack as the Italians struggled to deal with the intensity of the White Hart Lane side, especially Andros Townsend, who was back to the form that secured England’s passage to the World Cup 16 months ago.
But a number of near misses, including from Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli, who could not believe his effort came back off the bar, ultimately cost Spurs the win when Jose Basanta levelled the scores 10 minutes before half-time after slotting home a fortunate deflection from a soft free-kick conceded by the hapless Soldado.
With the game finishing 1-1 and the Serie A side having the away goal Spurs face a tough test of their credentials now in Italy, with Pochettino surely not able to rest his best players for that match – including Kane.
“I thought we deserved more,” Pochettino said. “In the first half we created a lot of chances. It’s a bit of a shame and I’m disappointed with result after 45 minutes because we dominated the game.
“In the second half we continued working hard. I’m happy with the performance but disappointed with the result because I thought we deserved more.
“This is football. I thought we were better than Fiorentina but this is a good thing and we now need to go to Florence and try to win the game. “