Tottenham vs Wolfsberger: Five things we learned as Dele Alli impresses in Europa League victory

Spurs 4-0 Wolfsberger: Dele nets a brilliant strike before assisting Vinicius and Bale

Karl Matchett
Wednesday 24 February 2021 19:09

Tottenham Hotspur cruised into the last 16 of the Europa League with a 4-0 win and dominant performance over Austrian side Wolfsberger AC.

Dele Alli hit the opener in brilliant fashion when he controlled a low cross and sent an overhead kick into the far corner, but Spurs failed to really build on their good start - understandable to an extent, with the tie effectively over already at that point.

Carlos Vinicius took on the goalkeeper but saw his shot cleared off the line before the break, before heading in Spurs’ second soon after the restart following Dele’s cross.

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Gareth Bale then netted minutes after coming on as sub, thundering in a first-time finish into the top corner, before Vinicius rattled in another as Spurs racked up an 8-1 aggregate win.

Here are five things we learned from the game on Wednesday evening.

Dele’s dream night

One goal, two assists, plenty of good movement off the ball.

What more could be asked of an attacker coming into the team and looking to impress?

Playing as the No. 10, he roved across the front line, found pockets of space, made clearances from defensive set plays and found end product in the final third with regularity - everything his manager could have asked of him in his 80 minutes on the pitch.

It might not yet earn him an immediate place in the starting line-up and consistency is the next big challenge for the 24-year-old to rediscover, but it’s certainly the type of performance Spurs need a few more of given recent Premier League results.

Impressive outsiders

It wasn’t just Dele who showed a decent performance on the night, which might prove to be timely given Spurs’ domestic form with the regular starters in place.

Joe Hart was solid with the little he had to do - he’s unlikely to displace Hugo Lloris, but it still serves a reminder to the first-choice to up his own game after recent errors - and Harry Winks was effective and reliable in the centre of the park.

READ MORE: Spurs’ problems aren’t Mourinho’s fault - Jose said so.

Perhaps most notably, Erik Lamela was dangerous throughout in attack, seizing the initiative to dribble at the defence, create openings with regularity and take on the responsibility for making plenty happen in the final third.

There is unquestionably one spot available in attack for a big performer to take in the first-pick XI and Lamela once again made his case to usurp Steven Bergwijn - though for Mourinho to pick him he’ll of course have to show the off-the-ball traits required in future too.

Mourinho with decisions to make

Jose Mourinho made a pretty big point about recent results being down to the quality available, rather than his coaching methods.

So, he has a decision to make in upcoming games against Burnley, Fulham and Palace - all should be winnable.

Does he stick to the same system and the same regular line-up? Or does he trust those who are finding form and fitness?

It’s not just Lamela and Dele who have pressed their claim, but also Gareth Bale with several recent showings that he is rediscovering his scoring touch. There has also been too much chopping and changing at the back - some enforced, some just tactical - for the team to build a solid foundation on.

Wins will change everything very quickly simply because the nature of the league this year is everybody close together and showing inconsistency; between now and the north London derby, the manager has to start getting the team selections right.

Otherwise, fans or not inside the grounds, he’ll really start to feel the heat.

Youngsters get the call

Dane Scarlett has already featured in the league and is seen as one of Spurs’ big young hopes for the future.

He, and a couple of others, were handed another chance to thrive here, playing out the latter stages of the second half as Mourinho rang the changes as progression was assured.

16-year-old Scarlett featured out wide and immediately made an impact with a tackle on the edge of the Wolfsberger box, which broke for Vincius to curl in the fourth.

Marcel Lavinier, 20, came on at right-back and Nile John, 17, also got a run in midfield - a fine night’s work for the Academy as much as the seniors.

European ambitions

Spurs are miles off the pace in the race for a top-four finish, down in ninth in the table after a run of five defeats in six.

As such, winning the Europa League outright looks the only possible path into Europe’s elite next term, with the Champions League spot available for the trophy-winners.

Do Spurs have the depth for this competition? Undeniably. They also have a manager who knows the route to success in two-legged ties and several individuals who are Champions League-calibre.

But, as with Dele’s search on an individual level, the team as a whole must find consistency. One off-night is enough to be terminal in this competition and there will be far bigger tests ahead than Austria’s current fifth-place side.

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