The unlikely Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg salvaged Tottenham Hotspur a point at Rennes as the Premier League outfit got off to a drab start in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League group stage on Thursday night.
Nuno Santo rang the changes and looked to be heading for a defeat at Roazhon Park before the Denmark international popped up with an equaliser in the 76th minute.
Spurs had taken an early lead when home defender Loic Bade turned the ball past his own goalkeeper off a Lucas Moura cross but it was soon back at all square after Flavien Tait fired home from the edge of the box midway through the first half.
The Ligue 1 outfit then retook the lead with less than 20 minutes on the clock, with Gaetan Laborde curling a shot past a helpless Pierluigi Gollini.
It was another disappointing outing from the Lilywhites but there was one rare positive, one which will give Nuno plenty to ponder heading into this weekend’s London derby against Chelsea.
Tanguy Ndombele excelled in his first start of the season.
“Pretty good outing for Ndombele overall I thought,” explained The Athletic’s Jack Pitt-Brooke after the French midfielder was withdrawn in the 79th minute. “Great backheel to start the move for the first, and pass out to [Matt] Doherty for the second. Some other good moments like that burst forward early on in the second half.”
Ndombele was a massive influence in the heart of midfield, playing alongside the youthful Oliver Skipp.
As per SofaScore, the 24-year-old midfielder made 88% of his 34 passing attempts, in which one was a key chance created, whilst he also pulled off 100% of his four dribbles and even made two interceptions.
This shows that he can contribute at either end of the pitch, making him a potential solution to Nuno’s attacking problems. That link between their own half and the final third has been a big issue in recent games and Ndombele just dropped one hell of a statement right in front of the Portuguese’s eyes.
Alasdair Gold at football.london was equally impressed, grading him a 7/10 – the best starter on the pitch.
‘He was the one Spurs player who looked like he might make something happen and combined well with Kane before being denied by the keeper after a run into the box,’ the reporter wrote.
Once lauded as a “world-beater” by former Spurs goalkeeper Joe Hart, we could be about to witness a massive comeback from Ndombele. His undoubted ability and talent is certainly going to be needed after back-to-back disappointments.
Nuno will have one huge headache on his hands now.
AND in other news, Nuno receives huge Spurs boost as Harry Kane update emerges…