Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Stellini expects challenge for European spots as he admits Tottenham need to learn to ‘kill games’

Cristian Stellini, Tottenham, February 2023

Stand-in Tottenham boss Cristian Stellini said he expects “other teams” to challenge the club for a European spot after a loss in a game they “needed to kill”.

A win today could have gone a long way for Tottenham. Indeed, they started the day four points behind third-placed Manchester United.

But with the Red Devils playing Liverpool this weekend, Spurs could’ve been given a chance to get closer to third. What’s more, fifth-placed Newcastle were four points behind the north London outfit before play with two games in hand.

Indeed, there were reasons either side of the club that suggested a win would be beneficial. The 22 shots the visitors had at Molineux suggested there were real efforts to secure that win.

However, despite their best efforts, Spurs were unable to penetrate Wolves’ defence effectively enough.

For the most part, their own rearguard was strong. Indeed, Wolves’ eight shots works out just over a third of those Tottenham managed.

However, it’s less about the amount of shots and more where they end up. And Wolves managed to score the only goal, which came courtesy of an Adama Traore effort in the 82nd minute.

A Raul Jimenez shot was well saved by Fraser Forster, but he parried into the path of Traore, who jumped with the bouncing ball and somehow managed to direct his volley from the edge of the area into the corner of the net off the crossbar.

Tottenham needed to ‘kill’ game

Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, stand-in boss Stellini admitted he thought Spurs were in control, but should’ve killed the game early on with the amount of chances they had.

“It was a good performance. We started well in the game. The first half was under control, we had chances to score and we could’ve killed the game. We didn’t and in the second half the game was more in balance,” he said.

“They found the goal 10 minutes until the end. We did not have the possibility to draw the game.

“It was a tough game like we expected but we were ready to challenge, to fight, to play a great game. We missed some chances in the first half and maybe it could’ve been a bit different.

“Wolves created superiority on our left side with Sarabia, we needed time to adapt. But then we regained control of the game. In the end they were good at winning the attacking duels and they had the possibility to score.”

European challenge expected

Tottenham are still in the European football spots. However, Stellini doesn’t think it’s a given that the club will end up there, with Newcastle breathing down their neck and more sides expected to join the race.

“It will be a tough race. We are not alone with Newcastle, other teams will for sure arrive,” he added.

Stellini also reiterated the need to be able to kill games like this if they find themselves in a similar position again.

“We have to be ready to play these type of games again. Maybe we have to have more of the killer instinct to kill the game when you have the possibility to do it. In the first half it was really under control and we needed to kill it,” he added.

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