Luckily for Spurs ... and I
mean luckily ... two players who contributed to the side going 0-3
behind in 30 first half minutes contrived to get Tottenham back into the
game with a 2-3 defeat that doesn't look too bad over the 90 minutes
that had gone before.
It was a shocking start on a
plastic pitch that saw the Tottenham players unsure of their grip
underfoot. In some ways it was depressingly reminiscent of the
Wembley FA Cup semi against Portsmouth.
Young Boys started
playing the game at a high tempo that Spurs found it hard to cope with.
Short, sharp passing in and around the box soon lead to Lulic turning on
the edge of the area to strike a low shot that bounced away off the
upright with Gomes static. That was just about two minutes in and
even then, it looked like it might be a long night. The
impressive David Degen lured Benoit Assou-Ekotto into a challenge, which
looked no more than a tangle of legs, but the Belgian ref saw things
differently and awarded the Cameroon defender a yellow card. Not
an ideal situation to be in with only three minutes on the clock.
The free kick was swung
in and cleared, but Doubai hit a shot from 23 yards out, which struck
Jemal on the back and rolled kindly off Bassong into the path of Lulic
on the left and the Bosnian stroked a calm shot past Gomes into the
opposite corner for a fourth minute lead. Considering how long
Spurs fans have been waiting for this, it was a horrible way for the
experience to begin.
Spurs created an opening
with Pav playing in Giovani, but his final touch took the ball a little
too close to the keeper and his attempted dink over Wolfli only found
his midriff as he spread himself at the Mexican's feet. Then Bale
played a low pass back to Jermain Defoe on the edge of the box and he
hit a shot that flew inches over Wolfli's crossbar.
But then things got
worse. Pavlyuchenko gave the ball away in the Young Boys half and
they broke through the middle, where Bienvenu turned away from Dawson on
the edge of the centre circle and ran away from him, as the England
centre-half struggled to turn on the artificial turf, leaving the
Cameroon striker a clear run on goal and he side-footed the ball past
Gomes as he came towards him. 0-2 and only 13 minutes gone !
Harry had set the team up
for our strengths, which was to attack, but we were being taken apart at
the back, where the home team had the advantage of knowing how the ball
ran on the astroturf. Spurs' passes ran too long, while theirs
found the space in behind defenders, as they were more aware of what
weight to put on the ball. But Tottenham settled down a little,
building some attacks and getting some efforts on goal, although not
forcing the keeper to make a save. Pavlyuchenko put a low ball
across the face of goal that Defoe could not reach and then both dos
Santos and Modric shot wildly over from the edge of the area.
The good work was all
undone when a good move saw Bassong get caught too square and he
couldn't turn to cut out the through pass from Costanzo that superbly
played in Hochstrasser to shoot powerfully past Gomes to make it 3-0
after 28 minutes. It looked like the Champions League campaign was
virtually dead in the water before it had even faced the Swiss Navy.
Tottenham were all at
sea. The body language of the players looked like they would much
rather be somewhere else and the confidence that had battered Manchester
City on Saturday remained in left luggage. A fourth looked on the
cards and Jemal struck a powerful free-kick that dipped just over the
bar, but Gomes had it covered, but Harry had decided something had to be
done. he removed Assou-Ekotto, who's usefulness was somewhat
reduced by the early booking and a sending off would definitely not have
helped the cause. Instead, he brought Tom Huddlestone into
midfield and with him, his array of passing that was a mystery why he
had left him out in the first place. Bale dropped back to left
back and Spurs set about trying to repair some of the damage already
With seven minutes to
half time, Corluka dropped a pass over the back four and Defoe got onto
it, but he was wide on the right and when he got to the dead ball line,
there were few viable options in the box and in the end, his low firm
cross ended up in the keeper's arms. But then, out of nothing,
Spurs were offered a slim lifeline. A sliced clearance gave
Tottenham a corner and Bale floated it into an area near the centre of
the goal, about ten yards out and Sebastien Bassong climbed high, hung
in the air and then powered a header past Wolfli and Sutter on the line
to make it 1-3. The score-line looked a bit healthier and almost
got another before the break, when Defoe showed good movement to escape
his marker, but he was leaning back and could not guide Bale's cross on
The half-time whistle
came at the wrong time for Spurs, as they were at last pressing on the
Young Boys goal. What the Swiss side had done well in the first
half was close Spurs down, giving them no time on the ball to play, to
use the ball quickly when they had possession and to take their
opportunities. Four shots and three goals. It was what
Tottenham would have to try to emulate in the second period.
It was something they
were going to have to do without the presence of midfielder Luka Modric,
who failed to appear after half-time, having shown a bit of a limp
during the latter stages of the first half. Replaced by Niko
Kranjcar, perhaps his fellow Croatian's more direct running might
trouble the Swiss side more.
That particular aspect
did not prove that effective, although Niko worked hard and passed well,
he rarely threatened to un-nerve the Young Boys defence. He did
find an early ball in just after the restart, but Defoe was thwarted by
Wolfli getting to the low cross just ahead of him. Spurs worked a
Bale long-throw well and Hud smashed the ball across the six yard box
with Defoe unable to reach it and then Roman was crowded out, when he
tried to turn in the box on 53 minutes. Pav then got on the end of
a low Bale special, with the ball gathering just a bit too much pace off
the turf, he could not keep his effort down and the ball went high into
the crowd behind the goal.
Again, it had been a good
spell of possession and pressure from Tottenham, but they allowed Young
Boys to push them back, with Sutter heading across goal from a corner on
the hour and then Bienvenu going even closer when he got above Bale, but
he could not control his header and it flew over Gomes' hand and bar,
when he should have hit the target.
In between, Pavlyuchenko
struck a shot rising over the bar from 20 yards out after he ran at
their defence and then Bassong tried the same, but his shot was always
well wide of the goal. The game was now going end to end and Degen
broke away down their left from our set-piece and Dawson almost brought
him down, risking a card of some colour. However, the Swiss front
man took the ball to the by-line and pulled it back for substitute
Christian Schneuwly to run on and hit it powerfully, but too high with
the goal gaping in front of him.
When play broke up the
other end, Spurs won a corner when Pav headed powerfully, but without
great direction and the goalie tipped it over in the centre of his goal.
Bassong had a free header from the corner, but failed to keep the ball
down too. It was soon soaring over the top once more, as Palacios
played a god awful back pass to Gomes without looking and Bienvenu
rescued it to allow Degen to reproduce his run and cross, but this time
Gomes knocked the ball away from goal straight to Schenuewly and this
time he met the ball on the volley, but could not hit the target in
front of him and Spurs escaped going further behind again.
With time running out, it looked like a 1-3 defeat was
what Spurs fans would have to accept from this "easy" draw against Young
Boys. But then, Vedran Corluka played a pass into Roman
Pavlyuchenko from the right touchline and he stepped over the ball, let
it run to Robbie Keane, on for the injured Defoe and the Irishman turned
the ball round the corner on the right hand corner of the box to allow
the Russian to get in behind his marker and smash a first time shot into
the top near post corner. The keeper will feel disappointed to let
the goal in at his near post, but Roman hit the ball so cleanly that it
would have been hard to stop it ... as it proved.
Both sides were knocking
the ball about, waiting for the final whistle without seeking another
vital goal, leaving both sides relatively satisfied after the game.
Young Boys had beaten the fourth best team in the Premier League last
season and Tottenham had stuck to holding possession and believing in
themselves, which was hard for the fans to do with the first half hour
too painfully fresh in the memory.
Having had a bit of a
shocker of a game, Pav came up with the goal which might make a lot of
difference in the tie. What is sure is that Tottenham must learn
that this is only the qualifying and IF they make it through, they will
face the cream of Europe. The Swiss may make good chocolate, but
Spurs will need to rise to the top of their game if they are to go