A poor display by Spurs ended with a 0-2 deficit left to overturn when
the second leg is played at White Hart Lane next week. While the
defence did well to hold out for nearly 80 minutes, we have all seen
this sort of game before to know that Tottenham cannot keep the
opposition out for the whole 90 minutes and an opening goal from a
set-piece laid the way for a second once Gomes was injured.
Spurs had looked reasonably comfortable
during the first half, although opened up on the flanks a couple of
times. They did little attacking, but there was an early scare
when a ball in from the left was missed by Gladkyy and then on ten
minutes, a great cross-field ball from right to left found Willian
running in to hit a first time volley, but it went over the top.
With Pascal Chimbonda starting his first
game since his return, wearing the 97 shirt for some reason, he showed
why sometimes, he can be good - with a well times tackle, just as a
Shakhtar player was about to shoot from ten yards out - and what
frustrates about him - when he runs with the ball towards his own
dead-ball line and then plays team-mates into trouble. Dawson was
blocking and tackling well, with Huddlestone tidying up alongside and
behind him. Chimbonda got caught coming infield and Chigrynskyy
found space behind the full back when he received a well weighted pass.
Fortunately for Tottenham, he tried to hit it first time and instead of
going on target, the ball went sideways and ended up going off for a
throw-in on the other side of the pitch, at a point behind where the
player took the shot from.
It took 30 minutes for Tottenham to
trouble the Donetsk goal. Dean Parrett, making a debut which
promises a lot more from the 17 year old, passed to Giovani on the left
wing and as he tried to get past the defender, he hit a left foot cross
that ended up as a shot and almost caught Pyatov out at his near post,
but the effort just missed the post and hit the side netting.
I thought the Austrian referee was quite
lenient towards the Shakhtar players all night, with some cynical and
crude challenges going by without a yellow card, just because they were
not anywhere near goal. The only player to receive a caution was
Rat five minutes before half-time. Two minutes before half-time
came Shakhtar's direct first shot on goal, but Gomes was right behind
It was a particularly uninspiring first
half and in truth the second half was little better. Watching on
TV it was possible to tell it was cold, but not how hard the pitch was.
Players didn't seem to be sprinting flat out and turning appeared more
difficult than normal, so conditions might have played their part.
It certainly looked like it might cause a goal when Willian's low left
wing cross went across the six yard box, but it evaded everyone and
Chimbonda could not stop, so touched it out for a corner.
With so many regular players out, it was
never going to be a fluent performance from Spurs, but the team seemed
solid enough, although Fernandinho got to a free-kick before anyone else
to glance his header off target. With just over 50 minutes on the
clock, Jermaine Jenas ran through onot Giovani's ball over the top and
the ball bounced just too high for it to come down for him to get a
decent shot off, as Pyatov came outside the box to meet him. JJ
got a toe on the ball to put it past the keeper, but Ishenko swept up
behind his goalie.
Darren Bent came on for Giovani and while
his running into space wasn't great, he did almost get through on
Parrett's through ball, but Chigrynskyy got in his way to stop him
getting into the box. Parrett himself had nearly got behind the
Shakhtar defence when a shot on goal was deflected wide, but the keeper
just beat him to the ball in the area.
Chris Gunter had produced a good block in
the box, before Didier Zokora was penalised for a foul 25 yards out.
As substitute Sereznov ran into the box, Spurs had to sort out who would
be marking him and it appears that it wasn't fully resolved, as
Fernandinho's free-kick into the centre of the six yard box saw him run
in and flick a header past Gomes, who was behind him and in no-man's
land. The Spurs keeper went down and required lengthy treatment,
for what was claimed to be a knock in the face, but the longer the
treatment went on, the more it seemed likely that Tottenham would
concede a second goal if Gomes stayed on.
Not that he was to blame for the second
goal, but recent history of not replacing a keeper who is not 100% has
cost Spurs in the past. It came two minutes from time and not in
the last minute as usually is the case. Jadson started on the
right hand corner of the penalty box, played a one-two with Willian and
ran across the face of the penalty area, before hitting a left foot shot
back the way he came to send Gomes the wrong way. Maybe Dawson
should not have run away from Jadson and Gunter might have shut him down
closer, but the second goal is the one which might knock Spurs out of
Over-coming a two goal margin might be
difficult, especially when the players available to the manager mean
that it is difficult to pick a settled side in all competitions.
Today Harry gambled and lost. In recent games, we have done well
when taking the game to the opposition. When we sit back and let
them dictate the game, we are always on the back foot, without a player
who can spark a goal out of nothing. To win 3-0 at home will be
marvellous if we can achieve it, but I am not too confident that it will