Substitute Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s equalizing goal enabled Tottenham Hotspur to get away with a 2-2 draw from their trip to France to play Rennes in the new Europa Conference League on Thursday.
An own goal by Loic Bade had given Spurs the lead in an entertaining game in Brittany, but Flavien Tait equalized and Gaetan Laborde gave Rennes the lead in the 72nd minute.
That lead was quickly nullified by Hojbjerg and given the circumstances it is a good result for Nuno Espirito Santo’s Tottenham side, who rebounded from their 3-0 drubbing at Crystal Palace last weekend.
The result also pleased Rennes’ supporters who, frustrated by recent performances, had rolled out a giant banner before kick-off with the message in English: “Are you ready to fight?”
While finishing in the top four of the Premier League and returning to the Champions League should be a priority for Spurs, they would be wise not to neglect a competition that offers a realistic path to silverware for a club that has been out since the League Cup. in 2008.
Their next match in Group G is against Slovenian champions Mura, the weakest team in the group on paper and who lost 2-0 at home to Dutch Vitesse Arnhem on Thursday.
However, this was hardly a smooth trip to France for Tottenham before taking on Chelsea for the weekend.
They had to spend 100 kilometers away in the town of Saint-Brieuc on Wednesday night because an international agricultural exhibition in Rennes this week meant a shortage of hotel rooms.
Nuno then lost both of his starting wingers, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura, to punches during the match.
– Quiet night for Kane –
The coach had made seven substitutions since the Crystal Palace debacle, with Son Heung-min being one of the players left behind in England, while Hugo Lloris was one of the players sitting on the bench.
Harry Kane, whose only goal so far this season came against Portugal’s Pacos de Ferreira in the play-off round, did play and wore the captain’s armband.
The visitors took the lead within 11 minutes when Kane released Lucas on the right wing and the Brazilian’s low ball in front of goal was converted into his own net by the hapless Bade.
Rennes is an ambitious club, however, having spent some 80 million euros ($94 million) on new signings over the summer period.
They tied the score midway through the first half as Tait knocked the ball down beautifully, playing a one-two with Serhou Guirassy and curling a nice low shot past Pierluigi Gollini into goal.
Kane had a quiet evening, although he forced a save from Rennes’ keeper Romain Salin late in the first half. He was sent away not long after the break to make way for 17-year-old Dane Scarlett.
The 21,500 Rennes fans then saw their team move forward when Laborde tapped in after Gollini fired off Kamaldeen Sulemana’s shot. It was Rennes’ first goal for the striker, a recent 15 million euro purchase from Montpellier.
However, the Spurs were tied four minutes later when Tait could only help Matt Doherty’s cross from the right to Hojbjerg, and the Danish midfielder remembered to score.
The Conference League is the new third tier of European club competition and consists of just one team from each of the continent’s major leagues.
Roma are representatives of Italy and Jose Mourinho’s side will play CSKA Sofia later on Thursday.
Union Berlin, the only German team, will face Slavia Prague, while there is no Spanish team at all because candidate representative Villarreal won the Europa League and thereby qualified for the Champions League.