Mura pounce at death to humiliate Tottenham as Antonio Conte admits squad standard is 'not so high'

·21 min read
Humilation for 10-man Tottenham as Mura pounce at the death to create Conference League upset - GETTY IMAGES
Humilation for 10-man Tottenham as Mura pounce at the death to create Conference League upset - GETTY IMAGES

Mura 2-1 Tottenham

  • The visitors are beaten by the lowest-ranked team in the Europa Conference League

  • Kane's equalises in the second half but Spurs are stunned with the final kick of the match

As Antonio Conte folded his arms against the Slovenian chill, muttering to himself while his players floundered in front of him, he might well have been wondering whether this Europa Conference League is ever going to be worth the hassle.

Midweek travels, awkward destinations and long nights do not make a manager's life any easier, and neither do performances as dreadful as this. Truly, this was a night of total embarrassment for Tottenham Hotspur, for whom the Conte-inspired momentum appears to have evaporated already. Tottenham were as poor here as they had been in this competition under Nuno Espirito Santo, except this time they had turned up with all of their star players as well as the usual fringe options.

Reduced to ten men after little more than half an hour of disjointed action, following Ryan Sessegnon’s early red card, Tottenham thought they had escaped humiliation when Harry Kane pulled them level in the second half. As it turned out, there was more pain to come. The minnows of Mura struck again with the final kick of the match, when Amadej Marosa’s deflected effort looped up into the air and down into the Tottenham net.

It was a long way from being ideal for Conte, as was the fact that he and his players were subjected to a lengthy bus journey, of almost two hours, back to the airport afterwards. The local airport in Maribor, they were told, was not available for use outside of daylight hours. Nothing could better sum up the strange demands of this new third-tier competition. The performance, the travel, the difficult pitch: none of this lends itself to proper preparation, or to Conte having meaningful time to work with his squad.

And a secondary complication here was that the defeat meant Tottenham cannot finish on top of their group. If they are to progress in second, they will have to play an extra two matches in February. This was not just humbling, then, but damaging too. It is strange to think that Tottenham’s qualification for the Conference League had originally prompted promising thoughts among their supporters, many of whom viewed it as a welcome opportunity to land that elusive first trophy since 2008.

Instead it has thus far proved to be so much more of a hindrance than a help, and there is no question that their midweek travails went some way towards Nuno losing his job. It was Nuno’s decision to split his squad between Premier League players and Conference League players which caused considerable unrest, and contributed heavily towards his dismissal. Conte was evidently in no mood to make the same mistake, as he showed by bringing all of his available senior players on this trip to Slovenia, but not even the presence of Kane could lift his team on a desperate night.

There is little glamour to be found in this competition, and especially not against the supposed whipping boys of the group. Tottenham’s ability to undermine their own cause knows no bounds, though, and they soon entered self-destruct mode in the freezing conditions. A bobbly surface did not help proceedings, with Davinson Sanchez losing his footing at the crucial moment as Tomi Horvat cut inside from the right wing. With enough time to calculate his angles, Horvat launched a superb effort into the top corner.

It was to be one of many uncomfortable moments in the first half, with Sessegnon soon following that up with his two clumsy challenges. The first was cynical, and he could not argue with the yellow. The second, lunging for a loose ball, was plain foolish. Again, he could hardly complain.

NS Mura vs Tottenham, Europa Conference League: live score and latest updates - Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Image
NS Mura vs Tottenham, Europa Conference League: live score and latest updates - Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Image

A goal down and a man down after just 31 minutes, this was not the occasion that Conte would have expected. Kane fired wide before the break but was otherwise sluggish, while Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli only offered brief moments of competence.

Such was the shortage of quality in Tottenham’s performance that Conte made four changes shortly after the break. On came Son-Heung min and Lucas Moura, bringing a much-needed shift in impetus. Mura began to sink deeper despite their numerical advantage and, before long, Kane had dinked a typically composed finish into the far corner.

Mura pounce at the death to humiliate 10-man Tottenham as woeful understudies blow their audition - GETTY IMAGES
Mura pounce at the death to humiliate 10-man Tottenham as woeful understudies blow their audition - GETTY IMAGES

A yellow card for Conte, who had been complaining about refereeing decisions, told its own story of Tottenham’s frustrations. As did the way Kane fell to his knees at missing a late chance from just a few yards out. If Kane had known what was coming next, he might not have been able to haul himself back up.

In the last seconds, Marosa broke free. Sanchez reached the shot with his leg, but could only deflect it past Pierluigi Gollini as the comparatively little club in this comparatively little stadium celebrated a night of shame for the supposed European giants.

Match details

Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-3): Gollini 6; Tanganga 5, Rodon 6 (Dier 54), Sanchez 4; Doherty 5 (Davies 54), Ndombele 5 (Hojbjerg 76), Skipp 5, Sessegnon 3; Gil 5 (Moura 54), Kane 5, Alli 4 (Son 54)

Booked: Alli

Sent off: Sessegnon

NS Mura (3-4-3): Obradovic 6; Karnicnik 7, Gorenc 7, Karamarko 6; Kous 6, Lorbek 7, Kozar 6 (Ouro 61), Sturm 6 (Lotric 78); Horvat 7 (Cipot 87), Mulahusejnovic 6 (Marosa 61), Pucko 6

Booked: Gorenc, Kozar, Mulahusejnovic, Sturm, Karamarko, Marosa, Lorbek,

Referee: Antonio Emanuel Carvalho Nobre (POR)

08:09 PM

That's all folks

Thanks for joining us on what was a desperately bad night for Tottenham. The Conte revolution has hit a stumbling block.

07:56 PM

An embarrassing night for Spurs

07:49 PM

The winning moment for Mura

07:40 PM


They've won it with the last kick of the match after a slip by Dier. Mura play it forward to Marosa who hares down the left, cuts in as Sanchez lets him get away and cut inside and shoot via a deflection past Gollini.

07:38 PM


Mura 2 Spurs 1 (Marosa)

07:37 PM

90+3 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Son whips it in and Tanganga, who had taken up a good position in front of the retreating defenders, tries a back-head flick from 15 yards that whistles over the bar.

07:36 PM

90+2 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Lucas Moura is tripped by Kous 35 yards out, left of centre.

07:35 PM

90+1 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

With Rennes and Vitesse all square at 3-3, Spurs will stay second if that pertains and will have a chance to grab the automatic spot by beating Rennes in the last round of group games.

There will be four minutes of stoppage time.

07:33 PM

89 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Lucas Moura gambols down the right, five yards in from the touchline and decides to have a shot when no better option presents itself, yet skies it into the stand.

07:32 PM

88 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Kai Cipot, a centre-forward and a proper wrong 'in by wearing the No2 shirt presumably in homage to Wilfried Bony, replaces Horvat.

07:30 PM

87 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Skipp tries to catch the keeper out when Obradovic shanks a clearance straight to him but his attempt to chip him fades beyond the right post.

07:29 PM

85 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Dier flicks the corner on at the near post and Kane sneaks between Karamarko and Pucko at the far post but he can only steer it over as he had to crane his neck back to fetch it.

07:28 PM

84 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Lorbek is booked for a lunging tackle that rips the left boot off Lucas Moura's foot. From the free-kick, Kane shimmies free and fires a right foot shot that is deflected behind for a corner.

07:25 PM

82 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Mura are using their 11 men to hang on to the ball and give Spurs the runaround in midfield. Possession as a weapon of superiority in numbers.

07:23 PM

79 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Conte is booked for a touchline blast about a decision he disputed.

07:21 PM

77 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Tottenham corner on the right. Son takes to the near post but the ball won't drop for Dier after Lucas Moura's header is blocked at close-range by his marker.

Sturm is replaced by Lotric.

07:20 PM

76 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Tottenham make their final change, sending on Hojbjerg for Ndombele.

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane scores their first goal -  REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane scores their first goal - REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

07:18 PM

74 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Lorbek is penalised for kicking Kane on the knee on halfway as they went for a bouncing ball.

07:17 PM

72 min Mura 1 Spurs 1

Lovely finish and a wonderful pass from Lucas Moura, slid down the inside-right. Kane takes a touch to shift the ball into the six-yard box and then dinks the ball over the keeper with the silkiest of stabs and in at the far post.

07:15 PM


Mura 1-1 Spurs (Kane)

07:12 PM

69 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

He wraps his instep around it and bends it over the bar. No dip and several Mura fans make the high-pitched 'woooooo' and wave their hands in his general direction.

07:11 PM

66 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Tottenham free-kick about 25 yards out after Gorenc shoves Kane over after Kane protects the bouncing ball. Kane fancies it himself.

07:09 PM

64 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Marosa and Sturm combine to send the latter into the box to shoot ... straight at Tanganga who goes down when struck in the goolies. Sturm, in his frustration, hauls back Lucas Moura who was aboit to hare off with the ball from the rebound and goes into the book.

07:06 PM

61 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Marosa and Oura replace Kozar and Mulahusejnovic.

07:04 PM

59 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Free header from Kane from the corner after unusually salck marking by Karnicnik but the captain (for the night) sends it down the keeper's throat.

The substitutions have injected spark and class into Tottenham.

07:03 PM

57 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Clever pass from the D by Son, round the corner was just beyond Ndombele who had started the move then Son glides into he area, tacking from left to right, looking for a gap for a shot until he finds one from an angle of about 45 degrees and thumps it. The keeper dives to his left to batter it behind.

07:01 PM

55 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Tottenham have reverted to a back three with Son and Moura as wide players, Skipp and Dier sitting and Ndombele pushed up.

06:57 PM

54 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Davies, Son, Lucas Moura and Dier replace Alli, Doherty, Gil and Rodon who have all been garbage.

06:56 PM

52 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Eric Dier, Spurs' one warrior according to Jose Mourinho, is about to come on. Karamarko has a shoving match with Dele Alli after the latter seemed to hit the keeper late with a challenge and both are booked.

06:55 PM

50 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Tanganga passes straight to Lorbek and Mura mount another attack. Mulahusejnovic receives the pass to feet in the box from Pucko and tries to hold it up to wait for Horvat's third-man run but Sanchez is strong enough to keep him off balance and ruin his efforts.

06:51 PM

48 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Gil goes down in the box but didn't seem to be much help from Karnicnik then Mulahusejnovic is late on Sanchez but escapes a second yellow card that would gave evened it up.

06:49 PM

46 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

No changes at the start if the half though Ben Davies, Son and Hojbjerg have been warming up at the break

06:35 PM

Half-time Mura 1 Spurs 0

About as poor a Spurs performance as one will ever experience. No poise, no precision, no purpose, no leadership, no intensity. Conte turned it around on Sunday. He'll have to do it all over again with his Janus-faced team.

06:32 PM

44 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Gil loses the ball and Tottenham have to weather another Mura attack of their own devising then Kane is robbed and Mura head off down the right.

He has a massive job on his hands with these players, Conte. The refusal to send Alli out on loan to PSG last year which may have preserved his value looks a terrible mistake. He doesn't skip anymore. He plods.

06:29 PM

42 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Tottenham are all over the place at the back and allow Lorbek to shift the ball without a challenge across his body on to his left foot and get away a shot from 20 yards that whistled past the left post.

Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli reacts - REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic
Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli reacts - REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

06:26 PM

39 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Cute pass from Skipp, opening his body to feed Kane on the right of the 18-yard line. He cushions the pass, twists inside and drags a left-foot shot wide of the right post.

06:22 PM

37 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Doherty whips a cross through a crowded Mura box moments after Kane was put through down the right and works the keeper from a tight angle. There's no one to meet Doherty's cross at the far post.

06:20 PM

35 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Tanganga goes to left back in a rejigged back four.

06:19 PM

33 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Ryan Sessegnon is sent off for a second bookable. He was late, having miscontrolled the ball he slid in to try to retrieve it and floored his opponent. He is quibbling but can have no complaints as he sits in the bath. Siberia beckons for young Mr Sessegnon after that daft performance.

06:17 PM

31 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Alli plays an extraordinarily bad pass from the inside-left channel, looking for Kane, smashing it out for a goalkick.

06:15 PM

28 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Alli makes a clever run between Karamarko and Gorenc on the right of Spurs' attack and the ball in from the right once more isn't up to snuff. Conte is going to have to insert a chisel-toed Ferragamo in several backsides at half-time.

06:13 PM

26 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Sessegnong hits a right-foot shot from the 18-yard line into Karnicnik and the ball bobbles tamely into Obradovic's grasp. The move began with Dele's through ball down the inside-left for Kane who took a touch towards goal as if to hit it with his left but then double-backed on himself. Clive Allen on commentary says Sessegnon wasn't quick enough to meet Kane's pass but methinks St Harry's pass wasn't the right pace.

06:10 PM

23 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Better from Gil, slipping a left-foot pass from the right down the inside-right channel for Kane who seems to have been impeded by Gorenc's tug of his shirt but the ref waves play on.

06:08 PM

21 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Gollini has to race out of his area to make a headed clearance to stop Kous sneaking in from the left. When SPurs move the ball up the left, Kane is fouled but they make nothing of the free-kick and the ball is back in their own penalty area within 20 seconds. They can't hang on to possession for any respectable length of time.

06:06 PM

19 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Another misplaced Totteham pass, this one from Rodon I think, almost puts Kous through down the right. They've been terrible so far. Perhaps Conte is the anti-Eriksson, second half always good, first half 'not so good'.

NS Mura's Tomi Horvat celebrates scoring their first goal  - REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic
NS Mura's Tomi Horvat celebrates scoring their first goal - REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

06:03 PM

17 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Doherty again ruins a decent attacking opportunity with a pass behind Kane which he fails to control. He's getting into good positions down the right but passing so far has been woeful.

06:01 PM

15 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Sessegnon is booked deserveddly for a daft trip on Karnicnik.

06:00 PM

14 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

There is a decided absence of intensity about Spurs' midfield and defence so far. Nodombele tries to spark something when he receives it in the centre-circle and plays a gorgeous pass with the outside of his right boot, curling away down the inside-right channel. Gil latches on to it and slices his volley towards the corner flag from 15 yards. Hard ball to control given the spin Nodombele had to put on it.

05:58 PM

12 min Mura 1 Spurs 0

Third time lucky for the Mura playmaker. Poor work from Sanchez , allowing him to cut inside from the right on to his left and thrash a rising shot into the top left corner. Sanchez may have slipped but that's no excuse.

05:56 PM


Mura 1-0 Spurs (Horvat)

05:55 PM

9 min Mura 0 Spurs 0

Good tackle by Sessegnon thwarts Horvat but a few seconds later Lorbek feeds the Mura No10 again in the inside-right channel and he takes on a 30-yard volley which would have needed a goal-of-the-season fiish to beat Gollini. Instead he gets under it and spoons it high over the bar.

05:53 PM

8 min Mura 0 Spurs 0

Neat triangular move, Kane drops deep, turns away from goal to receive and spread it out to Doherty bombing down the right. Gil glides away from Karamarko in expectation of the pass into the box but Doherty knocks it behind him.

05:51 PM

6 min Mura 0 Spurs 0

It's not very Rangnick so far. No intensity in Spurs' pressing.

05:50 PM

5 min Mura 0 Spurs 0

Kaus gets down the right and plays the ball inside Sanchez but Tanganga has read it and comes across to take the ball away before Mulahusejnovic had chance to pounce.

05:49 PM

4 min Mura 0 Spurs 0

Doherty stretches his stride a couple pf times with bursts down the right that come to naught. Not a bad player by any means, quite the opposite. But a less Spurs-like signing I could hardly conceive, Michael Brown notwithstanding.

05:47 PM

2 min Mura 0 Spurs 0

Kane takes the ball, back to goal 25 yards out, and tries to spin and play a pass down the inside-left as Dele cuts in but Karnicik steps out to intercept.

05:46 PM

1 min Mura 0 Spurs 0

Tottenham kick off, attacking from left to right and play it back to the defensive trio who sweep it from left to right and up that flank.

05:45 PM

The teams are out

Mura haven't played for 18 days because of a Covid outbreak. They're wearing black and white stripes and black shorts. Spurs are wearing their technicolor yawn, purple and green kit.

05:32 PM

Antonio Conte on the Ndombele enigma

As I said, I need to make my evaluations about evrey single player. This is a good opportunity for me to see players who have never played. Tanguy has a good opportunity to show me he deserves to play. We have a squad and it's very important for me to be able to make these evaluations in games and I need time to do it.

05:21 PM

And now for those of you watching in black and white

Mura Obradovic; Karnicnik, Gorenc, Karamarko; Kous, Lorbek, Kozar, Sturm; Horvat, Pucko; Mulahusejnovic.
Substitutes Kai Cipot, Bobicanec, Erjavec, Marosa, Tio Cipot, Bucek, Ouro, Mahimi, Klepac, Mandic, Zalokar.

Tottenham Hotspur Gollini; Sanchez, Rodon, Tanganga; Doherty, Ndombele, Skipp, Sessegnon; Gil, Alli; Kane.
Substitutes Lloris, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Son, Winks, Emerson, Dier, Lucas Moura, Davies, Austin.

Referee Antonio Nobre (Portugal)

04:56 PM

Your NS Mura starters

04:52 PM

Nine changes for Spurs - everyone bar Keane and Tanganga

03:36 PM

Good evening

And welcome to live coverage of the fifth round of Group G matches in Uefa's Europa Conference League AKA the Nyon Overreach League AKA the Gazprom WGAFF? League. Tottenham, under the management of Antonio Conte for his fourth game, find themselves in second place in the group, three points behind Rennes, and facing a play-off game against a third-placed Europa League side, parachuted down to this Isthmian Cup, to get into the Round of 16. If you thought European competition could never be more debased, think again.

Tonight Tottenham take on the champions of Slovenia who have endured four defeats so far and have nowt to play for other than entertaining their fans, which, to be fair, isn't such an ignoble motive. For Tottenham, who secured their first Premier League win under Antonio Conte on Sunday when they improved beyond measure in the second-half having been given the runaround by Leeds' reserves, it offers a chance for the new manager to look at some alternatives, particularly at wing-back, a crucial play-making role in any Conte side, where Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon, despite his winner against Leeds, did not impress.

To that end, Conte is looking to one of the great talents f English football whose potential and promise, like Jack Clarke's, has fallen off a cliff at Spurs. On Sunday Conte gave Ryan Sessegnon his first PL appearance for two years and likes what he saw:

"Now he's ready to start the game. I can't wait to see his performance because he's a talented player with space for improvement. He needs to be available for every game," Conte said. "I've seen in the past he suffered a lot of injuries. Now we're trying to work in the right way with him. It's very important with this player to push the engine at a high level and have a good training session, then you're trained to do a high-intensity performance in the game."

Sessegnon, who was even tipped as an outside bet for England's 2018 World Cup squad, said the appointment of Conte represents an opportunity to finally kickstart his career.

"The formation is perfect for me. Left wing back is where I feel comfortable. It suits me. When I started at Fulham, I was a left-back and got pushed further forward. As a wing-back it combines the two," Sessegnon said.

"Conte knows the history I have at the club. He wants me to be positive and express myself."

A trophy is a trophy for Conte and he has taken his full squad out for the match. "All the players available will come with us," he said. "They must be ready to play. I need to rotate because there are players who are a bit tired as they've played many games and other players need game time.

"But this competition is important, we want to take this fixture seriously, we want to go through to the next step."

Victory here and beating Rennes at home should put them top of the group which would take the unattractive play-off route off the table.