Erik Lamela’s resurgence continued in Monaco but a late Stephan El Shaarawy header denied Tottenham victory in the Europa League.
It may have taken two seasons to find any consistency, but the £30million club-record acquisition from Roma is at last fulfilling his promise. Just days after the departure of oft-maligned technical director Franco Baldini, so key to the signing, Lamela began and ended a move that gave Spurs a deserved lead – one chalked off by substitute El Shaarawy late on as Monaco secured a 1-1 draw.
For much of the game it looked like Mauricio Pochettino’s men would follow up their impressive 4-1 defeat of Manchester City with another win, especially when their Argentinian winger tapped home after Dele Alli was denied on the day of his maiden England call-up. Lamela’s finish was straightforward enough but the skill shown in starting the move was anything but, rolling the ball onto his right and playing in Nacer Chadli, who, like Harry Kane, could have netted in the opening period.
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They were missed chances that Monaco capitalized on as the Group J encounter came to a close at the half-full Stade Louis II, with El Shaarawy’s header beating Hugo Lloris after taking a slight touch off Kieran Trippier. It was a solid result tinged with frustration for Spurs head coach Pochettino, who named a surprisingly strong lineup in Monte Carlo.
Andrea Raggi and Lacina Traore had chances in an even, uneventful start to the match, which began to liven up in the 19th minute when Lloris showed impressive composure to jink away from danger and start a counter-attack. Danny Rose led the charge and Kane cut back from the byline after goalkeeper Danijel Subasic charged out, only for Chadli to curl over from 18 yards.
Adama Traore and then namesake Lacina had efforts, but it was Spurs that found the breakthrough as Lamela ended a move he started. The rejuvenated Argentina international’s wonderful footwork put through Chadli, who burst forward and played the ball across to Alli. The teenager’s strike was blocked but the ball fell kindly for Lamela to tap home into an empty net.
Thomas Lemar, Fabio Coentrao and Lacina Traore attempted to draw parity, with the latter’s effort coming on the break after Alli showed composure that belied his tender years to cut back for Kane, whose shot was smothered by Subasic. Jan Vertonghen stretched to deny Lacina Traore before time was called on an impressive first half by Spurs, who were being forced to defend more when play resumed.
However, Kane had an effort deflected behind at the other end and Eric Dier had a header saved from the resulting corner, with the former then heading straight at Subasic — missed chances Spurs were made to rue as the match came to a close. Nabil Dirar, introduced minutes earlier from the bench, sent in a fine, right-wing cross to El Shaarawy, whose header stumped Lloris after taking a slight deflection off Trippier.
It gave Leonardo Jardim’s men renewed confidence and only a wonderful challenge from Rose thwarted Guido Carrillo after Lloris spilt Dirar’s long-range drive.