Maribor 1 (1)
Thursday 25th October 2012
Venue : Ljudski vrt Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (0)
Kick off 18:00 (UK time)
|Beric 42||Sigurdsson 58|
Mezga (foul on Walker) 48
Naughton (simulation) 73
|Crowd : 13,000||Weather : - Dry, warm|
|Referee : Sergei Karasev (Russia)||Assistant Referees : Anton Averianov; Tikhon Kalugin (Russia)|
|Fourth Official : Dmitri Mosyakin (Russia)||Additional Assistant referees : Maksim Layushkin; Aleksei Nikolaev (Russia)|
|Maribor :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
Aaron LENNON (c)
18 Jermain DEFOE
|Manager : Darko Milanic||Manager : Andre Villas-Boas|
|Sponsor : -||Shirt sponsor : Investec|
|Kit Supplier : adidas||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
Spurs put in a sloppy display to earn their third Europa League draw in three matches this season that belies their claims that they are taking the competition seriously. The 1-1 result left opponents Maribor in second place, but with Lazio being held to a 1-1 draw by a late Panathinaikos goal, the group is tight, leaving Spurs needing to win their two home games to have a chance of going through to the next stage.
There was a lot of wasteful passing going on and the players first touch often allowed Maribor to have the ball when it looked as though Tottenham might be about to threaten. With the starting line-up missing Bale, Dembele, Adebayor and Gallas, Spurs relied on Huddlestone, Sigurdsson, Townsend and Naughton to come in and replace them. While Spurs looked comfortable in the first half, there was little cutting edge and they failed to penetrate the shaky Maribor defence.
Early on a weak header straight out to the edge of the area from a Kyle Walker cross fell to Gylfi, but he could not bring the ball under control with his first cross and he ballooned his shot way off target, then Maribor broke away and when Ibraimi pulled the ball back to Mertelj on the edge of the area, only a fine tackle back by Sigurdsson stopped him getting a shot away. In truth, the Slovenian side were pretty awful and Tottenham should have put them to the sword, with the lack of a second striker again hampering the attacking pressure that would have cracked the home team.
Too often Spurs ran the ball into Maribor players and they were happy enough to go down holding their heads and faces to try and con a red card out of the referee. It not only broke up play, but was a prime example of referees not having played the game, as they escaped scot-free, while Kyle Naughton was given a yellow card for simulation when he had a defenders' leg put across his run in the box in the second half.
Just after the half hour, Sandro first fired a powerful shot a yard wide, then headed down for Defoe to shoot, but he could not control the effort to get it on target. A massive scramble failed to see as Spurs player get a decent contact on the ball, but within three minutes of the break, the home time went into the lead. When Townsend lost the ball in a tackle near the halfway line (not for the first time), the Violets broke away and with an almost unhindered run down the left, Mezga ghosted past Sigurdsson to take the ball and then Huddlestone in the box, pausing to slip a short cross in to the near post, for Beric to bundle the ball over the line before Caulker and Vertonghen could deprive him of the scoring opportunity.
It was just punishment for the lax approach the side had taken, perhaps thinking the Slovenians would not score against them, but the goal meant Spurs had to score twice to take the three points they needed and that didn't look likely. So, when Townsend was replaced by Falque at half-time, it looked as though AVB was going with like for like, but without the pace. As it happens, the switch worked to Tottenham's advantage, as they started moving the ball quicker and found more space down the flanks.
Tavares had gone close once, twice, three times ... well, no he didn't, but he did get through within minutes of the restart and fired a shot in, but it went straight at Hugo Lloris. When Spurs attacked, Falque had a good run on the left wing and his low ball in was cut out for a corner, much to Defoe's disgust, as he wanted the ball played straight to him. In fact, there was quite a bit of sniping going on between the Spurs players as things weren't coming off.
13 minutes after half-time, a long ball in from the right was taken down by Sigurdsson and he slipped the ball outside him to the left to Falque, who drilled in a low cross shot. Handanovic got behind it, but couldn't hold it and it ran kindly to Defoe eight yards out and he must have seen goal 201 of his career flash before him. He made a good contact, smacking the ball hard at goal, but Mejac got in the way, with his hand over his face, but the ball dropped down and Gyfli was quickest to react and bundle the ball over the line at the left hand post to make the score 1-1.
However, five minutes later, Maribor could have gone back in front and probably should have. Ibraimi was put away down the right by Cvijanovic, where Naughton was left exposed and with nobody in front of him and just Lloris to beat, the midfielder shot into the side netting. It was a let off for Spurs, but they still didn't learn, because Mertelj looped a 25 yard volley at Lloris, which was easily saved and in the 77th minute, Milec crossed in low from the right to the penalty spot and Beric only had to direct the ball past Lloris, but he strayed offside and Spurs were let off again.
Trying to get the winner, Spurs were more or less confined to long shots, with Walker having a 20 yard shot blocked on the edge of the area, substitute Dempsey hit a 25 yard shot straight at Handanovic, while Walker shot wide again and Falque had a rush of blood with one that went over. It was left to Jan Vertonghen coming in from the left to go closest, with a 30 yard shot almost catching the keeper out, but luckily for Maribor, the ball skipped in front of Handanovic and went a ball's width outside the post.
Not the most convincing point Spurs have ever won in Europe and while it keeps them within touching distance of Lazio and Maribor, they will have to get more out of the games remaining than they have done already. With Dembele and Bale back, that might be more plausible, but there is still much work to be done and not much time in Europa League terms to do it in.
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Position before match :
Position after match : 2nd
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