The likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Cristiano Romero and Hugo Lloris did not travel to Holland with Sunday’s clash at West Ham in mind and a second string were undone by Maximilian Wittek’s 78th-minute strike.
The side Nuno Espirito Santo picked still had nine international players, but they were never really in the game and Bryan Gil’s shot that hit the crossbar early in the second half was their only moment of note.
Last time Tottenham played in Holland they enjoyed one of the most famous nights in their history as Lucas Moura’s hat-trick against Ajax sent them through to the Champions League final.
This time the Johan Cruijff ArenA was nothing but a stop on the trainline between Amsterdam and Arnhem and that Moura miracle must seem a long time ago as Spurs now compete in the third tier of European football.
Nuno has shown the competition respect so far, but made it clear where his priorities lay, leaving the entire XI that played 90 minutes at Newcastle last weekend at home to train ahead of Sunday’s Premier League visit to the Hammers.
With the return fixture in a fortnight and then a trip to the weakest team in the competition NS Mura to come, the Portuguese decided that leaving his big guns back in London for this game was a risk worth taking.
It was a gamble because this was a big night for Vitesse, who sold out their GelreDome stadium for the first time in seven years.
Before kick-off their partisan fans held up a banner reading “For the city, the colours and our club: This is our night” and, fresh from a derby win over NEC Nijmegen at the weekend, they started with intent.
Nikolai Baden Frederiksen forced Pierluigi Gollini into a save with his feet after being played in in the third minute and then Jacob Rasmussen flashed a header just wide from a corner.
Unsurprisingly given the amount of changes, Spurs were not up to much in an attacking sense in the first half, with teenage striker Dane Scarlett up against it in a lone role in attack.
They immediately showed more after the break and were within inches of taking the lead in the 47th minute.
Giovani Lo Celso showed why he is becoming a key player for Argentina as he went on an enterprising dribble before laying it off for Gil, whose first-time shot rattled the crossbar.
That was as good as it got for Spurs who were pinned further and further back as the second half wore on, with Eli Dasa twice going close with efforts from distance, the second effort bringing a smart stop out of Gollini.
It was no surprise when the goal came 12 minutes from time as Wittek brilliantly volleyed home Dasa’s cross from the edge of the area to send the home crowd wild.
Frederiksen on Spurs
Vitesse striker Nikolai Baden Frederiksen is looking forward to facing Tottenham tonight and hopes his team can somehow get a result against the former Champions League finalists. He told Vitesse TV:
‘A good opportunity'
Despite all the changes Tottenham’s starting XI is fairly strong. Excluding Dane Scarlett and Pierluigi Gollini most of the starting XI have made regular appearances in the Premier League and Nuno Espirito Santo spoke in the build-up about some of them taking this chance to find some form.
He picked out Steven Bergwijn by name saying: "This is a good opportunity for him to get sharper and stronger, we will need him in the future."
Team changes: Vitesse vs Tottenham
Thomas Letsch makes one change to his Vitesse team that started against Rennes last time out on the Europa Conference League as Yann Gboho drops out and is replaced in the forward line by Oussama Darfalou.
Nuno Espirito Santo changes his entire team from the weekend. There are six returning players that featured in the last ECL match against Mura with Pierluigi Gollini returning in goal and a front four of Bryan Gil, Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn and Dane Scarlett.
Line-ups: Vitesse vs Tottenham
Vitesse XI: Schubert; Doekhi, Bazoer, Rasmussen; Dasa, Bero, Tronstad, Wittek; Baden Frederiksen, Darfalou, Openda
Tottenham XI: Gollini; Tanganga, Sanchez, Rodon, B. Davies; Lo Celso, Winks; Bryan Gil, Alli, Bergwijn; Scarlett
Lots of changes from Nuno
Tottenham boss, Nuno Espirito Santo, has left all of the outfield players who started in Sunday’s 3-2 win at Newcastle at home and they won’t be playing a part in tonight’s game.
When asked if he was taking a gamble, Nuno replied: "No. It’s not about that. It’s about trying to analyse and see what is better for us in terms of our process during the week and for the future."
Meanwhile Vitesse manager, Thomas Letsch, doesn’t see any advantage in playing against a team missing many of its big names, according to De Gelderlander.
"Spurs have 25 top players to choose from," he said. "I see no advantage at all in coming up against their so-called second string. The players who we face tonight will be eager to prove themselves. They want to get into the normal starting XI."
Tottenham’s campaign so far
Tonight’s match against Vitesse is Tottenham’s third fixture of the campaign so far this season. They faced Rennes away from home on Matchday 1 and secured a point after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg found the back of the net to equalise in the 76th minute. The game finished 2-2.
Things were easier for Spurs in their next match against Mura. They were two goals up inside of 10 minutes before Ziga Kous scored just after half-time to set up a potentially nervous finish. It wasn’t the case though as Harry Kane came off the bench to score a hat-trick in just 19 minutes and ease Tottenham to a 5-1 victory.
Another win tonight and Spurs will be well set to qualify for the knockout stages.
What is the Europa Conference League?
The Europa Conference League is an opportunity for more teams around Europe to play one another.
It is essentially a third-tier European Competition, behind the Champions League and Europa League, which follows the existing formats of those competitions.
It begins with a group stage, which is followed by two-legged knockout rounds and a single-legged final.
Teams can qualify for the Europa Conference League through a number of different routes. In England, the Carabao Cup winners qualify, but Tottenham earned their spot in the competition as the highest finishers in the Premier League who didn’t already have a place in the Champions League or Europa League.
The eight groups contain four teams each, and no side can play another club from their country in the first round.
To progress to the first knockout rounds of the Europa Conference League – the last 16 – a team must finish top of their group, or finish second and then win a play-off tie against a side that finished third in their Europa League pool.
Tottenham currently sit top of Group G with four points but could slip as low as third if they lose to Vitesse this evening.
Tottenham travel to Vitesse in Europa Conference League
Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as Tottenham travel to Vitesse in the Europa Conference League.
Nuno Espirito Santo has pledged to field an entirely different outfield eleven tonight, with the players who started against Newcastle last weekend not making the trip to Holland.
Spurs are currently joint top of Group G on four points after two matches and need to win the group in order to avoid a playoff to reach the knockout stages.
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