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Conte laments ‘simple game’ as Spurs held to goalless draw in Frankfurt

Tottenham coach Antonio Conte lamented his side’s lack of firepower up front after Spurs played out a goalless Champions League draw away at Frankfurt on Tuesday.

Tottenham’s strike duo of Harry Kane and Son Hueng-min, who scored a combined 40 goals in the 2021-22 Premier League season, failed to take advantage of several clear chances and were frequently lambasted by the hostile home crowd.

While Conte credited his side’s performance in front of the Frankfurt fans, he regretted his side’s wasteful performance up front. 

“We need to be more clinical,” Conte said. 

“Football is simple, to win, you have to score.”

Just before kick-off, word filtered around the arena that unbeaten group leader Sporting Lisbon had lost 4-1 against Marseille, meaning either side could go equal top with a victory. 

Frankfurt dominated the early stages of the match, with Japanese midfielder Daichi Kamada pulling the strings up front while deputising for the injured Mario Goetze. 

Captain Sebastian Rode had the home side’s best chance of the opening half and was set up just to the right of the penalty spot in the 18th minute, only for Spurs midfielder Ivan Perisic to get his head to a goalbound shot. 

As the half went on, Tottenham looked more comfortable, appearing to shake themselves out of the funk remaining from their disappointing 3-1 derby defeat against Arsenal on the weekend – their first of the Premier League campaign. 

The visitors’ best chances of the opening half fell to Kane, but the England captain was unable to connect, scuffing a shot when presented with an open goal in the 39th minute. 

Kane’s usual strike partner Son took matters into his own hands just one minute later, but he skied his shot over the bar. 

Frankfurt roared out of the blocks after halftime, with Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff attempting an acrobatic finish when one-on-one with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Loris but going unrewarded in the early stages of the second half.

Lindstrom had another golden chance to open the scoring in the 60th minute, but smashed the ball over the crossbar despite little pressure from the Tottenham defence. 

Frustration crept in during the closing stages, Kane picking up a yellow card with five minutes to go for a charge on Makoto Hasebe. 

Frankfurt manager Oliver Glasner credited “world-class” goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and said his side “could live with a point” after a challenging week where they defeated the previously unbeaten Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin 2-0. 

“Tottenham is of course the favourite (in the group), this offense is probably one of the best in Europe,” Glasner said, looking forward to next week’s rematch in London. 

“It is important to control them and the few spaces that Antonio’s side gives you effectively.”

‘Work is our only secret’

Both sides finished with a point and are now equal in the group, with the return fixture in London on October 12 looking ever more crucial. 

Conte said his side, who played the Europa Conference League last season, needed to remember how far they had come. 

“Last season we had a great achievement, to (qualify for) the Champions League.

“We need to take time to build, to go step by step, to improve and become stronger as a squad. 

“We are competitive because we work a lot… This is our only secret.”

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