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Spurs: Ivan Perisic let Antonio Conte down vs Sporting

Tottenham Hotspur suffered a notable setback in their bid to reach the Champions League knockout stages, having been held to a frustrating 1-1 draw with Sporting Lisbon on home soil on Wednesday evening.

That disappointing stalemate has ensured that the north Londoners’ hopes of progression are still very much in their own hands, although it is seemingly a far from ideal scenario to have to go Marseille in need of a positive result on matchday six.

The overriding feeling in the aftermath of that match will likely have been one of fury for Antonio Conte’s side, with the Lilywhites having seemingly had victory snatched away from them at the death following a typically contentious VAR decision.

It had, however, been a rather limp first-half display from the home side prior to the eventual late drama, with the Portuguese outfit perhaps deservedly taking the lead midway through the first half, as former Tottenham youth starlet Marcus Edwards almost inevitably returned to haunt his previous employers with a stunning effort from range.

A much-improved performance would follow after the break from the hosts, although it would take until the 80th minute for an equaliser to finally emerge, with Rodrigo Bentancur continuing his recent fine form to header home.

The Premier League side then looked to have completed their comeback – and secured their place in the last-16 – with almost the final kick as Harry Kane lashed home from close range, only for the goal to be controversially denied following an excruciatingly long VAR wait.

That agonising end to what was an eventful night in N17 has left Conte’s men still in need of a point heading into their final group stage game next week, with it potentially set to prove a pivotal moment in the club’s Champions League future.

For all that undoubted rage, there may well be question marks as to why Spurs could not have started the game in the same manner in which they finished it, having again looked somewhat lethargic off the back of two successive top-flight defeats.

One figure who notably underwhelmed was summer signing Ivan Perisic, with the experienced Croatian having proven particularly wasteful from his wing-back berth, losing possession 19 times from his 68 touches.

While the 34-year-old did tee up teammate Bentancur with a delightful corner for his side’s goal on the night – as well as play a role in the eventually disallowed late effort – the former Inter Milan machine was largely ineffective from his wide berth.

The £9m-rated man was found wanting with his “poor” delivery – as per journalist George Sessions – with the attacking asset having completed just five of his 19 crosses, while also proving something of a liability defensively as he was dribbled past three times and won just three of his nine total duels.

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How well do you know Spurs manager Antonio Conte? Question 1. During his playing days, in which position did Conte typically operate?

As the Evening Standard’s Dan Kilpatrick noted, the 115-cap veteran ‘could surely be doing more from open play‘, having shown a “lack of quality” since making the move to England in the recent window, according to The Athletic’s Alex Kay-Jelski.

For all the finger-pointing at that notable late refereeing decision, Conte could well be better served looking at the problems within his own ranks, with concern potentially growing over Perisic’s recent struggles.