Spurs’ season is unravelling. A bitter inquest looms. Four days after flopping in the north London derby, José Mourinho’s team fell out of the Europa League in spectacular, humiliating fashion. Their trip to Dinamo was supposed to be little more than a formality after their comfortable two-goal win in last week’s first leg but Spurs produced an anaemic and disjointed display in perfect contrast to that of their hosts. Mislav Orsic’s extraordinary hat-trick crowned a famous win for the Croatian champions.
Dinamo came into this game with managerial problems of an alarming sort, with the man who took charge of them in the first leg, Zoran Mamic, sentenced to prison this week for fraud. But they performed to the best of their ability, and now Mourinho stands accused of failing to get the maximum out of the resources at his disposal. The pressure to beat Manchester City in next month’s Carabao Cup final has been cranked up.
Spurs have played more matches this season than any other team in Europe’stop five leagues and that fact might offer a hint of an excuse for their feeble showing here . On the other hand, they are a very rich club with a squad that should have been able to cope better than this. Mourinho was able to make seven changes to the lineup that started Sunday’s defeat in the north London derby. To put it another way, nine of the players who began in Zagreb had also started last week’s first leg, in which Spurs cantered to victory. But they were never in control in the second leg, starting so tentatively that it seemed to incite their limited opponents.
After a dreary start Dinamo began to bear their teeth midway through the first half. Tottenham soon looked flustered, with Davinson Sánchez having to making two good blocks to snuff out chances as the visitors reeled. At least that triggered a reaction at the other end, with Dele Alli, bright in bursts, pinging a fine ball through to Harry Kane, who failed to take it under control. Alli teed up Érik Lamela moments later but the forward did not get off his shot fast enough, allowing Kévin Théophile-Catherine to get back and block.
Inventiveness was in short supply but control and dynamism were the qualities Spurs lacked most. In the 35th minute Dinamo worked their first clear sight of goal, aided by a slip by Sánchez, but Lovro Majer drilled wide from the edge of the box. One minute later, Sánchez slid in to Spurs’ rescue, hooking the ball away from Arijan Ademi in front of goal after a cute pass by Majer.
The upside to Dinamo’s increasingly nimble attacking was that it left them open to counteroffensives. Spurs did not muster many, but Lucas Moura set Kane up for a chance just before the break. Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic rushed out to smother the striker’s shot.
If Mourinho demanded more urgency from his team at half-time, there was no evidence that his players listened. They remained sluggish after the break as Dinamo kept buzzing forward, stretching Spurs but not looking like penetrating until Ademi was left free from a corner in the 52nd minute. From 10 yards he sent a downward header bouncing into the arms of Hugo Lloris. Just before the hour, Bruno Petkovic curled high and wide from the corner of the six-yard box after another nice move provoked a scramble in the Spurs’ area.
Gareth Bale was introduced before the hour in place of Lamela, who by that stage had managed to collect another yellow card for catching an opponent with his elbow, though his guilt was not as obvious in this case as it has been against Arsenal on Sunday. That switch may have been intended to give Spurs more forward thrust but within moments they fell behind to a beautiful goal. Majer burst through Spurs’ pedestrian midfield and passed to Orsic on the left. The winger duped Serge Aurier by cutting back on to his left foot and curling a delicious shot from the corner of the box into the far corner of the net.
Mourinho threw on Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele to try to reverse the flow. But a Dinamo substitute, Iyayi Atiemwen, made a bigger impact, joining in an intricate move to feed Orsic, who darted into the box as Moussa Sissoko dawdled and then swept the equaliser into the net from 10 yards.
Now Spurs had to rally to save their campaign. They nearly did so in the 89th minute but Théophile-Catherin cleared a hKane header off the line to force extra-time. Dinamo had 30 minutes to achieve glory, Spurs half an hour to avert ignominy. Faced with such stakes, players on both sides raised their game. The game grew tense and chaotic and both sides created chances, though the hosts were still thinking more clearly and acting more sharply. Bale fired just wide for Spurs before Dinamo cut them open at the other end, Leovac skewing the ball across the face of goal after more smart work by Atiemwen.
In the first minute of the second period of extra-time, Orsic completed his magnificent hat-trick. After receiving the ball over 30 yards out, he zigzagged between Aurier, Sissoko and Ndombele and then crowned that run with an explosive finish, thrashing the ball past Lloris from 20 yards.