Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League campaign hangs in the balance after a 1-1 draw in the first-leg of their last-32 tie with Fiorentina at White Hart Lane.
Mauricio Pochettino made six changes to the side which lost 3-2 at Liverpool on the weekend, and his plan seemed to have the desired effect from the offset, with Roberto Soldado firing home a sixth-minute opener from Paulinho’s corner.
Tottenham proceeded to dominate the first half-hour, but saw their advantage extinguished 10 minutes before the break when left-back Jose Maria Basanta bundled in a loose ball after Hugo Lloris had parried Matias Fernandez's free-kick.
Nacer Chadli almost restored their lead during the closing stages of the first-half after hitting the bar, but a dominant second-half performance form the visitors saw Spurs fortunate to end the match on level terms.
Nevertheless, there were some clear positives for the Premier League club to take from the contest, including the performance of Andros Townsend, who stood out as perhaps their most creative force on the night.
The winger gave opposition number Basanta a torrid time for the opening 45 minutes with his speed and darting movement, and came off for Erik Lamela with 17 minute left having recorded a respectable 84.4 percent pass completion rate, two shots, 11 crosses, seven dribbles, two key passes and 57 touches of the football.
While his end product was once again found wanting at times, it was still an encouraging outing, and Pochettino will hope for more of the same when his side travel to Florence next week for the second-leg, hoping to cancel out la Viola’s away goal.
On a somewhat frustrating evening for the Premier League club, here’s what some of their Twitter-based followers made of England international’s contribution.
Still don't understand why MP took Townsend off when he was the only player causing problems, nice to see Soldado score aswell #COYS— Ryan Evans (@Ryan_Evans_92) February 20, 2015
Would have left Townsend on he's been good tonight, looking sharp. Lamela still doesn't do anything for me #coys— Nick (@Nb224Nick) February 19, 2015
Don't understand why Andros Townsend isn't starting games, persistently a threat on the wing #THFC— The Hotspur Hub (@TheHotspurHub_) February 19, 2015