Lamela finally lives up to YouTube hype

Posted by Dan Fitch

I love this gig, but if it has a curse, it's the fact that I watch matches while being preoccupied by what I’m going to write once the referee has blown the final whistle.

You’re always looking for a fresh angle, but during the first half of Thursday's 2-1 Europa League win over Sheriff, it seemed more likely that I’d be writing a familiar story. In recent weeks it’s been difficult not to sound like a broken record - lack of creativity in midfield, inverted wingers, yada, yada, yada. . . .

Tottenham looked so unlikely to score the home crowd decided to randomly celebrate an imaginary goal, just to remind themselves what it felt like. Was I going to have to bore you again by moaning about how dull the Europa League is?

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The one potentially interesting development in the first 45 minutes was the fact that Erik Lamela looked a bit livelier than he’s generally been this season.

Lamela wasn’t spectacular, but he was getting on the ball and trying to make things happen. He should have had a penalty when one run saw him fouled in the box and he proved himself to be the anti-Ashley Young, by actually trying and succeeding to stay upright.

Some might say that this was a mistake, considering Spurs need to take any opportunity to score right now, but it demonstrated some desire from Lamela.

In the second half that desire paid off, as Lamela gave me something to write about and the crowd a couple of moments to really cheer.

An hour into the game, Lamela scored his first goal for Tottenham. He played the ball into Christian Eriksen and continued his run into the box. Eriksen tried to ping it towards Paulinho, only for the ball to deflect off the Brazilian’s back and then off a Sheriff defender, into the path of the on-running Lamela.

For a player who has looked short of confidence, it was probably a blessing Lamela had no time to think about his finish. He struck it first time into the net to give his team the lead and to get a monkey off his back.

Sometimes, it can take something as simple to launch a career at a club. The second goal could not have happened if Lamela wasn’t full of confidence from scoring the first.

Coming in off the left, Lamela drove into the penalty area with his feet pulling off moves normally seen when you button-bash randomly while playing FIFA. As a clumsy tackle came in, this time Lamela couldn’t stay on his feet and a penalty was given.

Jermain Defoe confidently drove the ball home to become the club’s record scorer in Europe. From having looked like as if was going to be another long match, Spurs were now 2-0 up.

When you play against opposition that has put men behind the ball, then you need a player such as Lamela to produce something special and break them down with a moment of magic.

Tactics are suddenly irrelevant. It’s all about running with the ball just like you did when you were a kid and wanting to prove that you were the best player among your friends.

Gareth Bale did it for Tottenham. He produced moments where the opposition simply couldn’t stop him.

I’m guessing that most Spurs fans were like me and watched lots of YouTube videos of Lamela in action for Roma last season. Thursday night was the first real glimpse of him achieving something similar in a Spurs shirt.

It’s clear he needs time and patience, so nobody should expect Lamela to start producing the goods every week, but sooner or later it’s going to happen.

Thursday, we saw the dawning of a new era.


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