Tottenham: 3 takeaways from victory vs. Shkendija in Europa League

Tottenham Hotspur, Tanguy Ndombele (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur, Tanguy Ndombele (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images) /
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Tottenham Hotspur, Serge Aurier
Tottenham Hotspur, Serge Aurier (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur triumphed over Shkendija in Europa League qualifying and there were some key takeaways from the match for Spurs to consider moving forward.

Tottenham Hotspur were dominant but not deadly in Macedonia on Thursday evening, leading to a 1-3 victory over Shkendija and a date with Maccabi Haifa in the playoffs of the Europa League.

Despite not quite being at the top of their game in terms of finishing off a lesser opponent, there were a few things that stood out during the match that we should keep an eye on for Spurs moving forward.

The play of a couple of Spurs along with some of the tactics caught the eye.

Serge Aurier: Not done yet

Serge Aurier had seemed to be a forgotten man early this season, after being one of the few mainstays under the initial reign of Jose Mourinho. With the addition of Matt Doherty, it appeared Serge had fallen in the pecking order. However, based on the play of both thus far, Aurier should probably be seeing more minutes at right back.

Considered a defensive liability at times, Aurier played only one bad ball all night and worked hard to backtrack and play his part in the defense. Having avoided any stupid fouls or bad decisions based on poor positioning, Aurier seems to have grown as a defender under Mourinho and was probably the best defender on the pitch last night, which is not something Doherty can say thus far.

Even more impressive last night were the crosses coming from the right-back. Doherty was brought in to help add some drive to the attack, but last night it was Aurier who was consistently putting the ball in the box. Unfortunately for Serge and Spurs, the boys were just not finishing the moves.

Aurier had five crosses that on a different day may have led to five goals in a demolishing of Shkendija. Instead, Dele had a first-time effort saved by the keeper, on another occasion a little mistiming by Son Heung-min and Dele left the ball whizzing between the two like the bad news bears. On the third occasion in the first half, Dele was seemingly alone at the back post, only to be thwarted by a terrific defensive effort. Three great crosses, three poor finishes, zero goals for Spurs.

In the second half, Serge found new targets, but still found the same results. At 65 minutes, Aurier pinged Lamela on the head only for the Argentine to redirect the ball and see it bounce wide of the net. Just two minutes later, Aurier played a wonderful left-footed cross into the box after cutting back to his weaker foot.

This time Serge found Harry Kane, who could only slap his palm to his forehead after missing what for Kane was a sitter. Of course, Erik Lamela had already scored and Kane would head home for Son later, but on a different day Aurier would have been the star as a clinical Spurs put five or six past Shkendija. Instead, it was a day of poor finishing and Aurier will have to live with knowing he did his part. Seeing those crosses and the effort from Serge is a positive sign for Spurs.