Another defeat and one which can't really be attributed to Juande Ramos
despite the media piling pressure on him. Two individual mistakes
cost Spurs, although the result was about right in terms of the share of
play and the chances created. Gomes and Giovani put Tottenham in a
position where they were chasing the game and then got caught out at the
end to lose 0-2.
To often the decisions on what to do with
the ball were poor, leaving Udinese in possession or wasting some good
possession of our own. Free-kicks were blasted too long or off
target when shooting at goal, the movement was not good and the support
of Darren Bent, playing alone up front, was not good enough.
Udinese were as guilty in conceding possession at times, but Spurs were
not capable of taking advantage.
It was a bit of a surprise that Spurs
started brightly and while Udinese had a chance with a header by
Quagliarella that went just wide, the way Spurs approached the game with
just one striker was a refreshing relief. It was one that did not
last long though. Assou-Ekotto lost the ball too easily on the
left and the ball had to be headed away by a diving Ledley King.
it did spark Spurs into attack and Jenas worked space for Lennon, but
his cross only reached Handanovic at the near post, while O'Hara's
perceptive diagonal ball picked out Bale, who took it on his chest, but
could not beat the defender who went with him.
Tottenham's best opening came when Jenas
drove into the right hand side of the penalty area and picked out a
cross to Darren Bent at the far post. Instead of taking time when
he could have steadied himself for a shot on goal, he took the header
early, but could not get any power behind it. Then just
before 20 minutes, a corner was cleared out and Jamie O'Hara hooked it
back towards goal and it went just over the top, but the Udinese keeper
was worried it might drop on target. In the next attack, Lennon
hit the keeper with a shot when he might have better dragged a square
ball across the six yard box. The ball was cleared out, but
luckily for the Italian side, it dropped to Zokora, who hit his shot
with his usual inaccuracy.
With the pressure building up on the home
goal, the whole game turned when Assou-Ekotto played a back-pass to
Gomes and he took a touch and then slipped as he went to start his
approach to the ball. This allowed Quagliarella to get in front of
him and without considering the consequences, the Brazilian keeper
dragged him down and a penalty was given. As the striker was going
away from goal, it was only a yellow for Gomes, but the same fate was
handed to Lukovic, who obviously wanted a red for the Spurs goalie, by
the imploring waving of an imaginary card he mimed. The penalty
went in and Spurs were on their way to another defeat.
While Gomes was at fault for the goal
which put Spurs into the position of chasing the game, he did keep some
out. He made a good stretch to push aside a low drive from
D'Agostino on the half hour and had a bit of luck when he half-punched a
corner and the two follow-up shots were blocked by Spurs bodies in the
area. Five minutes before the break, it was time for Tottenham to
attack and Bale put in a corner that the keeper missed completely,
leaving the ball to drop at the feet of Alan Hutton at the far post.
Well, actually, it dropped between the feet of Alan Hutton, who could
only lay it back for O'Hara, who blazed it over with his right foot.
Half time saw Ramos put Assou-Ekotto out
of his misery and substituted him with Modric coming on in midfield,
while O'Hara dropped to left back. it didn't take the youngster
too long (well, ten minutes and 65 seconds) to make an impact, with the
65 seconds being the time between his two yellow cards and a red to go
with them. Down to ten men again - this is getting to be a habit,
as is picking up yellow cards with the frustration the players are
experiencing - we all hoped that they would come back the same way they
did on Sunday. Not so.
Quagliarella brought out a low save from
Gomes as the ball seemed to be creeping inside the post in the 50th
minute and after the sending off, the keeper got his body in the way
when Bent missed his kick in the area from a free-kick, leaving Domizzi
with the chance, but he could not beat Heurelho. Then he showed
his good footwork, when Di Natale was left in the clear and he initially
came out, but then was lobbed, so moved his feet well to get him going
backwards and diving perilously near to the post, he managed to flap a
hand at the ball to keep it out as it tried to sneak in at the far post.
Woodgate suffered a knock and was
substituted as a precaution, but it showed that Sunday is much more
important than this game, even though Spurs still strove to get
something from the match.
And they almost did so in the 84th
minute, as Giovani made a penetrating run up the right wing and pulled a
cross back from the by-line to find Bent's had in the centre of the goal
and his effort was inches under the bar with power behind it.
However, Handanovic rose and pushed the ball over with a very good save
and he enjoyed a little bit of luck as the ball was straight at him.
With the sniff of a point in the offing, Tottenham continued to go
forward and Giovani was too easily dispossessed this time, giving
Udinese the chance to break with a 4v3 situation. Quagliarella
just about managed to play the ballto his right and Pepe stepped around
Modric and then Gomes to knock the ball in past Jenas on the line, via
And that was that. In what will be
a group with this as the toughest game, Spurs really have to step up
their game to go through, but they also have to do that in the league
and do it without Dawson and Bale and now without O'Hara in the UEFA
Cup. Injuries and suspensions usually hit in the spring, but they
are coming now, when Spurs least need them.
While I want Tottenham to win every game,
this was one we could sacrifice if it means we will add league points to
a meagre tally. If only that could be guaranteed.