Spurs show promise, deficiencies in Antonio Conte’s dramatic debut


Welcome back, Tottenham Hotspur, you uncontrollably chaotic football club, for Antonio Conte, in just one game, has restored you to something very closely resembling your former self.

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From 3-0 ahead of Dutch side Vitesse after 30 minutes, to only 3-2 up by the 40th minute, to going down to 10 men for the final half-hour, to actually finishing the game with a man advantage of their own by full-time — yes, it was quite the eventful debut for Antonio Conte, as Tottenham held on for a 3-2 home win in Europa Conference League action.

Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura opened the scoring on 15 and 22 minutes, respectively, before an own goal in the 28th minute made it 3-0. The goals were conceded just four and 11 minutes later, as the promise and potential of Tottenham’s attacking talent gave way to the glaring defensive issues which have plagued them to the tune of 16 goals conceded in their last eight Premier League fixtures (zero clean sheets in that time).

The victory leaves Tottenham 2nd in Group G, with seven points from four games. Spurs will host current leaders Rennes on the final day of group play.

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The last 24 months has been a difficult time for anyone with any connection to Tottenham — from the players and coaches, to the club executives and, chiefly among them, the fans. Since the departure of Mauricio Pochettino in November 2019, not only have Tottenham been poor in terms of results (failed to qualify for UEFA Champions League in back-to-back seasons), but morale around the club has deteriorated significantly with Nuno Espirito Santo unfairly left to take the abuse of 60,000 frustrated fans.

Under Antonio Conte, scenes like those we saw on Thursday (and a sharp attitude adjustment) could very quickly breathe new life into the club and see Tottenham’s 2021-22 season rise from the ashes of hopelessness to resume competing for the more desirable European places.

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