Tottenham destroy Dinamo in Tblisi
Spurs put five past Georgians to signal there maybe life after Bale
Tottenham Hotspur’s Roberto Soldado scored twice against Dinamo Tbilisi. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Dinamo Tblisi 0 Tottenham 5: Tottenham proved there might be life after Gareth Bale as Andros Townsend inspired the Londoners to a thumping win over Dinamo Tbilisi. Bale sat out tonight’s Europa League play-off first leg as he edged closer to a world-record move to Real Madrid, but Spurs, often branded a one-man team after the Welshman’s heroics last term, showed they may cope without him
Townsend put on a display Bale would have been proud of. The 22-year-old scored a superb solo goal to start the rout and he outpaced his marker to supply the assists for Roberto Soldado’s first goal of the night and Paulinho’s maiden strike for the club.
Danny Rose scored a fourth that rivalled his wonder strike against Arsenal in 2010 and Soldado added his second to round off a victory which almost guarantee’s Spurs’ progression to the group stages of the competition.
Even though he was some 2,200 miles away from London, Andre Villas-Boas could not escape questions about Bale in the run up to the game, and having seen technical director Franco Baldini despatched to Madrid last night, it appears Spurs are resigned to losing their star man. Yet there was plenty of reason for the Tottenham manager to be optimistic after this performance in the Georgian capital.
Yes, Dinamo are hardly Champions League quality, but this was a potential banana skin that Tottenham avoided with ease, and there were some impressive displays all over the pitch.
Townsend showed how much his confidence has grown during his year at QPR while new signings Nacer Chadli, Soldado and Paulinho stood out again as they did at Crystal Palace last Sunday.
Even though the 55,000 capacity Dinamo Arena was half-full by kick-off, the noisy locals made sure the Spurs players knew they were not welcome. The visitors responded well, but neither Soldado nor Gylfi Sigurdsson could take advantage of a moment of nervousness from Dinamo stopper Giorhi Loria.
Sigurdsson then dallied on the ball, allowing the impressive Elguja Grigalashvili to race into the Spurs box, but his shot was deflected over.
Dinamo left themselves exposed at the back from the resulting corner and Townsend took full advantage. Paulinho’s challenge released the England Under-21 international and he sprinted from inside his half before unleashing a low drive past Loria.
The hostile atmosphere turned flat and the only audible sound inside the stadium came from the jubilant 100 fans in the away end.
Dinamo went on the attack. Lloris pulled off a superb save to deny Jaba Dvali from eight yards. The crowd sensed an equaliser, but Dinamo’s defensive frailties left them open at the back. A mix-up between Giorgi Gvelesiani and Davit Kvirkvelia gave Soldado some room in the box, but Loria denied the Spaniard at his near post.
Sigurdsson curled a free-kick in to the side-netting and Loria almost fumbled a Rose cross in to his own net. Then, just before the break, Spurs scored another superb goal. Townsend was the inspiration once again, embarrassing Darko Glishich with a sharp turn before chipping the ball to the unmarked Paulinho, who nodded in from eight yards.
The third goal came in the 56th minute and Townsend, inevitably, was the architect.
The winger raced down the right flank, gained a yard on his marker and pulled the ball back for Soldado, who slotted the ball past Loria.
Tottenham’s fourth was just as pleasing on the eye. Chadli found Rose after cutting in from the left flank and he curled a beautiful shot over Loria from 25 yards. Dinamo fans started leaving their seats three minutes later after Chadli sent a low cross to the back post and Soldado tapped home from close range. Giorgi Merebashvili sprinted past three players to find Dvali, but Lloris saved with his legs.
Grigalashvili tested Lloris again with eight minutes left, but he saved well. Spurs raced up the other end and they almost made it six, but substitute Harry Kane’s header hit the woodwork and they had to settle for 5-0.