Antonio Conte was dished up the good and the bad in his first match in charge of Tottenham who beat Vitesse Arnhem 3-2 in the Europa Conference League on Thursday in a game which also featured three red cards. Conte took his place in the dugout at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after his work permit arrived in time two days after his appointment. And after watching his side race to a three-goal lead, before being pegged back then lose a man as Vitesse ended with nine men Conte told BT, “It was a crazy game.”
“Usually I don’t like this type of game – a crazy game means anything can happen. But at the same time I think we should win and we won.
“We were winning 3-0 then conceded two goals we can avoid. After a red card we were in trouble. To win while suffering is good for this team, these players.”
Spurs had not mustered a single shot on target in the weekend defeat to Manchester United, which spelled the end for Nuno Espirito Santo after just four months in charge.
Against Vitesse they’d conjured up two within the first 90 seconds, encouraging the fans, some draped in Italian flags to make Conte feel at home.
The Italian former Inter Milan, Chelsea and Juventus boss only had to wait 14 minutes for his new side’s first goal, with Son Heung-min driving in a low angled shot from the right.
Shortly after Lucas Moura, taking receipt of an inch-perfect cross from Harry Kane, clinically converted the chance, sliding the ball past the onrushing keeper Markus Schubert.
The re-energized hosts were 3-0 up before the half hour, the goal awarded to Vitesse defender Jacob Rasmussen who in trying to keep out Kane’s close range shot dragged the ball over the line.
Rasmussen made quick amends, heading past Hugo Lloris four minutes later.
On 39 minutes a defensive error by Moura resulted in Matus Bero slotting past Lloris to give Conte plenty to talk about at his first half-time prep talk in the Spurs dressing room.
On the hour Tottenham went a man down after defender Cristian Romero received his second booking for a foul on Lois Openda.
Lloris was then kept busy as Vitesse tried to capitalise on their numerical advantage, the Spurs skipper superbly denying Riechedly Bazoer’s curling shot with his left hand.
Conte made a triple substitution, introducing Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez and Tanguy Ndomblee for Son, Moura and Oliver Skipp.
Vitesse had a man sent off of their own when captain Danilho Doekhi felled Kane in the centre circle to earn his second booking, as Tottenham held on for a much needed win.
Schubert was also sent off for handling the ball outside of his area.
Conte reflected, “We need to have a bit of patience because we need to work on many aspects – tactically and physically. I’m not afraid about the work. I know only through the work you can reach important targets.”
The win pushed Spurs up to second in Group G, three points behind leaders Rennes.
While Conte was left with plenty of food for thought in north London ahead of his Premier League return against Everton, former Spurs boss Jose Mourinho watched his Roma side earn a come-from-behind 2-2 draw against Bodo/Glimt.
The Norwegians had embarrassed Mourinho’s Serie A charges 6-1 at home in the first match between the two sides last month.
The stalemate left Roma one point adrift of Bodo/Glimt in Group C.
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