With Scotland’s capital hosting the world to the delights of the Edinburgh Festival, Tottenham were treating the people of Tynecastle to a festival of football, not seen in these parts for a long, long time.
Before the game, Harry Redknapp had said he expected a hostile atmosphere and a tough game. It was a shame that nobody had told the generous hosts, as goals from Van Dar Vaart, Defoe, Livermore, Bale and Lennon put to sword the game as well as the tie.
Considering it was Tottenham’s first competitive game of the season, they looked leaner, meaner and keener than their Scottish counterparts. Neat quick passing football, with Kranjcar and Van Dar Vaart being the main orchestrators, the North London club got in their stride from the off and the gulf in class was clearly evident.
It was reported that Tottenham only having one central midfielder available, but Kranjcar was excellent. Some off his passing, long and short was superb, showing against lesser opposition he can fill that void. Time will tell if he can do it against more illustrious teams.
The inevitable first goal came after quick interplay from Spurs and a fortunate ricochet off a Hearts defender which fell into the path of Van der Vaart, who provided an assured finish.
One goal became two shortly afterwards, with Defoe controlling and side footing past a bemused goalkeeper after an excellent pass from Aaron Lennon.
Defoe, looked sharper than he has done long a long time, held the ball up well, tracked back and showed the rewards of the extra training he had done during the summer break. There were times when he would shoot rather than play the ball to better positioned team-mate, but that’s what you get from a player with his predatory instincts.
Personally I would like Defoe to score 15 goals and have 15 assists, rather than score 20, but it was very encouraging from the ex-West Ham hit-man.
It then started to get embarrassing for the Scottish hosts, as Jake Livermore, making his European debut for the club, exchanged passes with Defoe and finished with aplomb. Livermore played well, especially in the first half, though less so in the second half.
It was the most one-sided game I had seen for a long time, and if it was a boxing match, then the Edinburgh based team wouldn’t have been allowed out for the second half.
To their credit, the Scots did come out in the second half and made a fight off it. For a twenty minute spell they played as they should have started, in the faces of Tottenham and camping inside the Tottenham half.
Our midfield lost the authority it had in the first, with Livermore not producing the same intensity he had in the first. Losing his positioning and composure at times, but they are lessons to be learned by the youngster.
A few scary moments passed, with Gomes being his own worst enemy, coming out for corners and crosses which he wasn’t entitled too. Tottenham defended well, with Walker and Benoit Assou Eketto showing a measure of calm when needed.
Walker was superb, offering an attacking outlet and more importantly showing people he can also defend. One incident captured it perfectly, when Templeton was clean through and he showed the pace and poise to first recover and secondly nick the ball away from the Hearts winger.
After the early second half storm, Tottenham began to get into their rhythm and the introduction of Tom Huddlestone for the tiring Van Dar Vaart, brought calm to the proceedings.
After nearly scoring himself, he fed a beautiful pass past a tiring flat back four for Bale to run on too, the Welshman making no mistake against the onrushing keeper.
Tottenham pulled the curtains on a fine show with a goal which belonged to an X-Box game. Breaking with such pace and guile, Andros Townsend, who was impressive in his short cameo, sliced the Hearts defence with a pass to find Defoe, who in turn crossed for Lennon to finish. It didn’t take more than 5 seconds to get from end of the pitch to the other and the clinical fashion in which it was done, was highly impressive.