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Tottenham 1-1 Sporting: 5 things learned as late VAR drama denies Spurs crucial winner

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Tottenham’s chances of progressing into the knockout stages of the Champions League are still alive after drawing 1-1 with Sporting CP at home. The performance left a lot to be desired, though the point could prove crucial following Frankfurt’s 2-1 win over Marseille.

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Marcus Edwards came back to haunt his former club in north London, scoring the opening goal on the night in the 22nd minute. The 23-year-old weaved past several Spurs defenders before drilling a fierce strike past Hugo Lloris and into the far corner. Rodrigo Bentacur then rose the highest from a corner to head home a crucial equaliser in the 80th minute, just minutes after Sporting wasted several chances to double their lead.

Antonio Conte cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines throughout the match, though his side lacked the aggression that their manager had. Spurs thought they had managed to secure a historic win late on after Harry Kane smashed home from close-range in the 94th minute, but an extended VAR review saw the winner chalked off due to the England international being offisde – with Conte being shown a red card after appealing the decision.

The draw means that Tottenham remain top of the group, thanks to results elsewhere, heading into the final round of group stage fixtures and Conte must spark a reaction from his side if they are to do well in the competition. But what else did we learn on the night?

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Conte still trusts his 3-4-3

Conte’s team selection against Sporting certainly suggested that he is not entirely sold on the 3-5-2 that system that he has deployed recently. The Italian opted to return back to his tried and tested 3-4-3, mainly at the expense of Yves Bissouma – who dropped to the bench in place of Lucas Moura.

Tottenham 1-1 Sporting: Five Things Learned As Late Var Drama Denies Spurs Crucial Winner

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With a three-man attack, Tottenham looked more threatening going forward and their attacks had more purpose compared to when Kane and Son led the line. However, it did come at the expense of their dominance in the centre of the park, with Edwards’ goal showing why having a holding midfielder, such as Bissouma, to mop up loose balls still must be considered an option.

Marcus Edwards puts himself in the shop window

The storyline was prepared, and Marcus Edwards certainly did his bit for Sporting. The winger was electric, once more, against Tottenham and proved that his former side made a significant mistake in letting him leave in 2019.

Tottenham 1-1 Sporting: Five Things Learned As Late Var Drama Denies Spurs Crucial Winner

The England under-20 international has been linked with a return to the Premier League on several occasions, and his display on Wednesday night evidenced why clubs would be interested. Edwards’ pace and close control make him a defensive nightmare and he could prove a valuable asset to any team competing on the European stage if he does leave Sporting.

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Ruben Amorim justifies interest

Sporting manager Ruben Amorim has been linked with several vacancies so far this season, including Brighton and Wolves, and his tactical setup against Spurs showed why. His team were solid defensively but also versatile in how they would attack, being willing to slowly build attacks as well as race forward on the counter.

Chelsea reportedly held talks with Amorim before appointing Graham Potter, sounding him out as a long-term option, and his potential as a coach makes it clear to see why. If Amorim can continue to impress as Sporting then he will certainly have a good chance of landing a top role in one of Europe’s top leagues.

Eric Dier wasteful

Central defender Eric Dier missed two golden opportunities late on to secure all three points for his side. The 28-year-old struggled to guide his header into the far corner after a sensational delivery from Son Heung-min, with many questioning why he didn’t leave it given that Bentancur was waiting at the back post to prod home.

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Dier then managed to skew a header wide from five yards after some neat interplay down the left, with footage showing Conte celebrating having believed it was impossible for his player to miss.

Lucas Moura still deemed an option

Towards the latter stages of the transfer window, reports emerged that clubs were eying Lucas Moura. Though the Brazil international does appear to have a future in north London and could prove a rotational option for Conte going forward considering he started over Bryan Gil on Wednesday night

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