Errors from centre-backs Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen helped Fiorentina beat Tottenham 2-0 in Florence on Thursday night, sending the Italians into the next round of the Europa League 3-1 on aggregate.
After the first leg had been drawn, both clubs had a chance of moving into the round of 16, but chances were at a premium to begin with as Tottenham controlled possession but lacked any real threat. Milan Badelj had the first chance for the hosts but lashed over, but the decisive moment of the tie came just before half-time.
Spurs launched a rare counter-attack and Erik Lamela played a ball through the Fiorentina defence for Roberto Soldado to run clear in goal. The Spaniard striker has flopped since joining Tottenham in 2013 but looked to have the chance to put the visitors ahead in the match and the tie, and with Nacer Chadli supporting him as they ran at Neto in net, a goal seemed certain.
However, Soldado undercooked his pass and Neto easily collected. From that moment, Spurs fell apart.
Slow and easy
Mauricio Pochettino's side was laboured on the ball, with wingmen Chadli and Lamela offering very little; the Argentine in particular was brushed off the ball far too easily. However, it was compatriot Fazio that would make the next costly error.
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With Vertonghen in comfortable possession on the halfway line, Fazio received the ball but mishit his pass straight to Badelj, who played in Mario Gomez to run through on goal and show Soldado how to finish, hitting the ball through Hugo Lloris' legs.
Tottenham had always needed a goal so little had changed in reality, but Vertonghen made sure the Lilywhites faced an insurmountable deficit after he dallied on the ball in the penalty area, allowing on-loan Chelsea forward Mohamed Salah to nip in and score.
Vertonghen was subbed off soon after, but even the introductions of Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend and Harry Kane did little to change the game. Kane had the ball in the net but Ben Davies was clearly offside, and Pochettino's lack of a Plan B was utterly exposed.
After a recent run of good results, Spurs look to have fallen into their old bad habits, and with the Capital One Cup final against Chelsea coming on Sunday, Pochettino has a challenge picking up his players and finding some fluidity and confidence again.
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