Tottenham were knocked out of the Europa League last night by a strong Benfica side. They also ended their run of consecutive defeats by drawing in the Estadio da Luz.
Spurs fell 1-0 behind and looked likely to lose again and concede more but Tim Sherwood changed the system around with a couple of substitutions. Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane were thrown on in the second half and Spurs immediately scored twice in quick succession.
Nacer Chadli scored both of Tottenham’s goal. One was a piledriver, low into the corner from 25-yards out and the other was a quick swivel and a turn inside the penalty area, rifling the ball into the top corner.
It gave Spurs hope. The two quick goals meant they needed just one more to force extra-time which was quite inconceivable prior to kick-off given the form of both sides.
Chadli has had his critics this season – and rightfully so – but maybe, just maybe, he turned a corner last night. The winger was one of the club’s first summer signings last season in a busy transfer window for the club. He’s had to deal with poor form, inconsistent fitness, criticism, a new country and turmoil surrounding the club. His form was not really expected to be excellent, but still, a lot more has been expected from the Belgian.
Chadli was lively last night, as you can tell by his Heat Map. He was everywhere, it seems. Naturally a left winger, it was strange to see Chadli roaming the field to collect the ball. Has Sherwood figured out how to utilise his talents?
It was such a surprise to see as dominant a performance as this from the Belgian, who has so often gone missing this season. Last night as one of the biggest games of their season and Spurs were shackled with injuries, forcing a central midfielder and a young defender to occupy the central defensive positions.
On a huge night for the club, Chadli shone and dragged his team by the scruff of the neck, almost earning extra-time in Portugal.
He completed 86% of his passes – a fantastic 32/37 – which is almost unheard of for an attacking player – especially Chadli.
Chadli also helped out off the ball, contesting 9 headed duels and winning five of them. He also entered five tackles but only came out on top in one of them. His performance also featured one clearances and one take-on.
If the Belgian can continue the form shown during Benfica for the rest of the season, his critics will slowly start to dissipate. It has been a tough season for him and everyone at Spurs but that performance last night showed what Chadli is capable of. It is down to him now to carry that on, starting at the weekend.