With 85 minutes to go, Spurs were cruising to a memorable win at the San Siro Stadium in their first game of the Champions League campaign.
Christian Eriksen had given Spurs a precious lead early in the 2nd half – deservedly, over the balance of play up to then – even if there was an element of good fortune in the finish.
After that goal, Spurs looked likely to extend their lead and bring home the points but then disaster struck.
With Serge Aurier nowhere to be seen, left back Kwadwo Asamoah’s cross pulled back to the edge of the box where the unmarked Mauro Icardi scored with his first shot of the game. Jan Vertonghen failed to get his body in the way and the ball flew past Michel Vorm into the bottom corner.
From then on, confidence palpably drained from the Spurs players and rather inevitably, from a corner, Matias Vecino – from a free header – won the game for Inter in the 2nd minute of injury time. Again, sloppy defending at a set piece had cost Spurs dear.
Even though the media will focus on the absence of Kieron Trippier and Toby Alderweireld or the match fitness of Harry Kane – who missed a glorious chance in the 1st half – and taunt Spurs for “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” and all that nonsense, there were positives.
Despite a poor tentative first half, Spurs dominated for long periods of the second half and certainly looked good for the three points. In fact, it looked odds on that despite playing badly, Spurs were going to win and to win ugly. However, once again, they paid the price for two glaring weaknesses.
One, the lack of a clinical finish to the chances they created and two, an awful inability to defend set pieces.
Now, I do not believe that the omissions were crucial, Trippier or Alderweireld would not have done any better than Aurier or Sanchez but there are certainly question marks over the usually dependable Vertonghen who has not been able to recapture the form that made him the player of last season.
Overall, Spurs were better than Inter but lost the match due to defensive lapses and a failure to manage the match when time was running out for Inter.
After winning the first three games of the season, Spurs have gone on to lose the last three. One imagines the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino would be immense at the moment but he did predict that this would be his toughest season and I believe that he will fix the weaknesses highlighted above sooner than later.
COME ON YOU SPURS!