Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino insists teenage midfielder Dele Alli must learn to curb his devilish streak after escaping with a yellow card following a petulant kick at defender Nenad Tomovic during his side’s draw with Fiorentina last night.
Spurs will take a potentially critical away goal into next week’s second leg after midfielder Nacer Chadli netted a first-half penalty before Fiorentina levelled through Federico Bernardeschi’s deflected effort.
Ali again showcased the talent which has projected him onto England’s radar ahead of the summer’s European Championships, although his first-half indiscretion could have de-railed Tottenham’s multi-pronged assault on silverware this term.
“We need to look at the video and try to teach him, he is a young player and he has a lot to learn about elite football,” said Pochettino. “It’s his first season in the Premier League with Tottenham, he came from League One and he still needs to learn a lot.”
Pochettino made six changes to the team that started Sunday’s victory at Premier League title rivals Manchester City but managed a creditable draw against a side that has won 10 of the 13 home Serie A matches this season.
“It was a tough game but Fiorentina are a very good team,” added Pochettino. “History says it is difficult to score here for English teams so that was important for us.
“The tie is still open and we are confident but we know they have good players. There is big motivation from the side and although we made changes we have a strong squad who want to fight for every competition.”
After a sedate opening, Tottenham were the first to threaten on 25 minutes as playmaker Christian Eriksen’s dipping effort from range was turned over the crossbar by Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
The Viola squandered a glorious opportunity shortly after the half-hour mark as unmarked winger Bernardeschi fluffed a volleyed attempt from close range before ex-West Ham attacker Mauro Zarate fired the rebound wide of the post.
Tottenham made Fiorentina pay for their wastefulness moments later as full-back Ben Davies was checked in the penalty area by Serbia’s Tomovic and Chadli nonchalantly rolled home the resulting spot-kick.
Chadli forced Tatarusanu into a low save having hared onto half-time substitute Mousa Dembele’s pass and wrong-footed centre-half Gonzalo Rodriguez, although Fiorentina were level before the hour mark.
The hosts looked bereft of ideas before equalising on 59 minutes when Bernardeschi’s 25-yard strike took a deflection off midfielder Ryan Mason and looped beyond the reach of stand-in stopper Michel Vorm and nestled under his crossbar.