What turned out to be nothing more than a training exercise ended
embarrassingly for Tottenham, who had to bring on Gareth Bale and Robbie
Keane to earn a late equaliser as Spurs went through against Anorthosis.
There were enough chances created, but
failure to capitalise on them left Spurs chasing the game when a blatant
handball was missed by the poor match officials and the home team's
resulting shot got a deflection off Gardner to beat Robinson.
The team was set up with Zokora playing
in front of the back four and Huddlestone taking a more forward role,
with Boateng and Malbranque wide in midfield. Bent partnered Defoe
up front, while Lee and Stalteri flanked Gardner and Dawson in defence.
There was little urgency until we went behind, but the side had lots of
possession, although struggled to break down a tough tackling and
Spurs fans have been waiting to see
Kevin-Prince Boateng and his first involvement did not disappoint, as he
played an early cross to the near post and a defender hit it just over
his own bar as he tried to stop it reaching Bent. A similar move
saw Malbranque on the left play the ball in, but Defoe just failed to
Tottenham's first chance came in the
seventh minute, with a good link between Lee and Bent on the left, with
the striker playing the ball square to leave Jermain a clear shot on
goal, but with only the keeper to beat, he struck the effort too high
and missed the target. Almost straight away, Anorthosis broke and
the ball somewhat fortuitously found it's way to Laban on the edge of
the box and his scuffed shot went about two feet wide, through a packed
Throughout the game, Huddlestone and
Malbranque were responsible for giving the ball away in promising areas,
but Hud picked out a lofted pass through the middle of the Cypriot
defence and Defoe was just beaten to it by Nagy, the home goalie.
Then Steed made a similar pas and the keeper repeated his sharpness off
his line. Jermain did better in the 21st minute, when he shifted
the ball onto his right foot and lashed a quick shot off, which went
wide of the goal. The little Tottenham forward had the best chance
of the half in the 35th minute, when Steed picked him out with a ball
onto his chest. The ball dropped and Defoe hit it at goal straight
away, but with his back to the goal, he did not realise where the keeper
was, hitting him, when a yard either side would have seen the net
Just before the half-time whistle (one
thing the ref got right), Tottenham came closer and closer to adding to
their aggregate score. Stalteri's deep cross was met by Malbranque
on the overhead, his acrobatic effort going over the bar. Then
Boateng, who had been slowing down as the half went on, found Steed in
the area with a neat pass. The French midfielder made a yard and
played a low ball back to Defoe, who pulled his shot wide of Nagy, but
saw the ball bounce back off the post for the second game running.
Darren Bent was getting frustrated with
the Anorthosis defence, as they blocked him off every time he went for
the ball, while they were trying to strong-arm Defoe out of it, with
Nicolau almost punching him in the face in one "challenge".
Laban started the second half pushing
little passes round the Spurs players and his shot after four minutes of
the second period went close once more. At the other end, Boateng
hit a left foot shot wide, Huddlestone tried a shot from long range and
Defoe from closer in had shots fly wide, but then a real shocker
occurred. A high ball was played into the Tottenham area, with
neither Gardner and Dawson attacking the ball. As it dropped,
Frousas tried to control the ball, but it cradled in his arm before it
fell to the feet of Fabinho Periera, who hit it first time, getting a
touch off Anthony Gardner as it went past Robinson's dive. So
outraged was Robinson, that he received a yellow card for his dissent at
the lack of a decision.
Catching Spurs offside had been a
dangerous game for Anorthosis, but the first half linesman helped them
out with some more questionable decisions. Fouls when Famagusta players
flopped to the turf, funnily didn't earn the same result when Tottenham
players were tumbled over on a regular basis.
Ten minutes after the break, Malbranque
was played in inside well the area, but he delayed getting a shot on
goal and by the time he did, Nagy saved his effort with his legs.
An early shot would have caught the keeper and his defence by surprise.
As in the last two Spurs games, Martin
Jol has had to call on players from the bench to change the game and
once more, he took Gareth Bale and Robbie Keane from the dug-out and
brought them on for Lee and Boateng, as the time was slipping away.
Immediately, it became noticeable that
Anorthosis could not cope with Bale's pace on the left, as Constantinou
made a well-timed last ditch tackle. When play went to the Spurs
end, Dawson put a poor header out and Laban hit it back straight away,
missing the foot of the goal post by a narrow margin.
With 12 minutes left, Keane put the ball
in front of Bale on the left wing and his speed took him past his
marker. Drilling the ball back from the byline, Darren bent
stepped over it and Keane swept it into the roof of the net to make it
1-1. It was a well-worked goal, with it finally being finished as
Parhars flashed a low ball across the
Spurs six yard area, with nobody getting a touch and Defoe had one last
chance that Nagy saved at the end.
So, a big chance to try and work things
out, but it was much more of the same, with chances missed, the midfield
stuttering and not yet in full flow. The defence still worryingly
troubled even against the weakest opposition.
Next up is one of the permutations of the
Liverpool squad and having lost to Marseille, it will be a tough task.
Could we even hope for the same result on Sunday ??