Player Ratings: Defenders dismal, forwards thrive in Conte’s hectic first Tottenham win

Tottenham trio Emerson Royal, Lucas Moura and Sergio Reguilon 2021

We rate the players after Tottenham secured a narrow 3-2 victory over Vitesse Arnhem in a hectic contest that saw Spurs almost surrender a three-goal lead and the referee produce three red cards.

Son Heung-min notched the first goal of the Antonio Conte era after capitalising on a comedy of errors from the Vitesse Arnhem backline. Lucas Moura’s strike was parried back into the dangerzone before the goalkeeper shovelled the ball into Son’s path via a deflection off his own defender.

The South Korean’s effort was hard and low and nestled in the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

The lead quickly doubled when Moura played a sublime one-two with Harry Kane before coolly slotting home between the goalkeeper’s legs. It was Kane’s turn next after bundling the ball home, but unfortunately for the Englishman, the third goal was awarded as a Jacob Rasmussen own goal.

Rasmussen was in the thick of the action moments later when pulling one back from a corner after outmuscling Eric Dier. Tottenham shipped a second when Matus Bero capitalised on a Moura error with Conte’s first half at the helm producing five goals.

The second half began in rather more sedate fashion until Cristian Romero was shown a red card for a second bookable offence. Not to be outdone, Vitesse were reduced to 10 and then nine men themselves on a night where the true scale of the task facing Antonio Conte became clear.

Tottenham (3-4-3)

Hugo Lloris: Excellent save to deny a long-range missile from Tronstad. Blameless for Rasmussen’s header and Bero’s strike with both goals coming from individual errors from outfield players. Busier than he would’ve expected at the beginning of the night after Romero’s red card early in the second half, but continued to show his enduring class with several fine stops. 8/10

Eric Dier: Outmuscled by Rasmussen at a corner for Vitesse’s goal. That moment dampened the mood somewhat at a time when Tottenham had Vitesse on the ropes and kickstarted the Dutch side’s revival. Not alone in making defending against Vitesse looked harder than it had any right to be. 5

Cristian Romero: On the front front early and his willingness to step out of the backline kickstarted  Spurs’ first chance for Son. Should’ve looked more comfortable playing in a back three than he did having played in the system at Atalanta.

The Argentine was afforded little protection from the wayward Emerson, however, and did himself no favours when committing a needless foul on the halfway line for his second yellow. 4

Ben Davies: Survived a nervy early moment when he appeared to clip a Vitesse attacker inches inside the area. Piled forward to overload the left side for Tottenham’s third goal after his scuffed shot allowed Kane to bundle home. 

His status as Tottenham’s only left-footed option to play on the left side of the back three will likely see him afforded more opportunities. 6

Emerson Royal: Took up an extremely high position when Spurs were in possession, often times in line with the recognised front three. Lacked end product for much of the contest and seemed unsure regarding his positioning from a defensive standpoint.

Guilty of letting Bero drift inside the area unchecked for Vitesse’s second and continued to offer Romero inadequate protection on the right side after the break. 4

Oliver Skipp: Got through his share of defensive duties but never looked like his two-man central midfield alongside Hojbjerg would keep Vitesse quiet. May find Conte instructing him to remain rooted in a deeper position and leave the attacking duties up to the front three and wingbacks. Replaced by Winks for the final 20 minutes. 6

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: Responsibility in the engine room will be on his shoulders if Conte continues with his 3-4-3 formation. Produced his usual energetic and committed display, but alongside Skipp, struggled to instil a sense of control against clearly inferior opponents. May benefit from abandoning his occasional drives forward and settling for shielding what will continue to be a shaky backline. 6

Sergio Reguilon: Looks a shoe-in to become Conte’s first-choice left-wingback with Davies selected at left centre-back. Drove forward at will and was often found in acres of space thanks to Son operating within the width of the penalty box.

Contributed to Spurs’ third and looked like he will come into his own as a wingback. Did his defensive work more efficiently than Emerson to ensure Vitesse’s only joys came on the opposite flank. 7

Lucas Moura: A constant threat with his clever movement and direct running that put Vitesse’s defenders on the back foot. Kept his composure to tuck home Tottenham’s second after superb interplay with Kane. His willingness to do the defensive work backfired for Vitesse’s second when surrendering possession in a dangerous area after initially winning the ball back.

Saw his second half impact diminished after Romero’s red card and was replaced by Sanchez as Conte sought to shut up shop. 8

Harry Kane: Struggled for rhythm early and too often saw blossoming attacks break down at his feet. Began to find his groove after 20 minutes and bagged an assist with a perfectly-weighted through ball for Moura’s goal.

Quiet after the break and his side’s reduction to 10 men further restricted his chances of impressing his new manager. Played an instrumental role in forcing the referee to even up the numbers with his smart centre-forward play. Played a captain’s knock towards the end when holding the ball up well and eating up the clock when winning several fouls.  7

Son Heung-min: Typically lively from minute one. Showed terrific movement drifting in from the left to sew confusion among the right side of Vitesse’s backline. Began operating ever more centrally throughout the contest, allowing Reguilon acres of space to maraud into down the left.

Opened the scoring from the right side of the front three, indicating the fluidity of movement and interchange of positions Conte has in mind for his forward line. 8 (Man of the match)

Substitutes: 

Tanguy Ndombele (On for Son, 72m) 5

Davinson Sanchez (On for Moura, 73m): 6

Harry Winks (On for Skipp, 73m): 5

Giovani Lo Celso (On for Hojbjerg. 87m): N/A

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