SC Braga (Home)
UEFA Cup - Round of 16

Wednesday 14th March 2007

With a sudden spate of injuries, Tottenham's squad will be tested to the limit with this second leg against Braga.  Luckily a three goal haul away from home will help and hopefully, Tottenham will not tug on our heartstrings too hard as they are at breaking point after the last few weeks.

Braga showed little attacking intent in the first hour of the game last week, but know they have to come out to get through and it will leave space for Spurs to exploit.  Using the pace of Lennon and the finishing of Berbatov and Defoe, with perhaps Keane tucked in behind them, it could leave Braga rueing their performance in Portugal.

It is a game Spurs must approach as if they are level and they must not be too confident, even though they ran the game in the first leg.  They should be able to hold the ball and run Braga around, but they should be careful, as the Arsenalistas showed a more typical approach in the latter stages when they left their studs in and were late with their tackles.

We have had a great deal of trouble keeping a clean sheet and without wanting to prime everyone for a trip to the cardiac unit I think Spurs will progress, but it will be close ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    SC Braga  1


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Anthony Gardner (broken leg);  Paul Robinson (thigh); Jermaine Jenas (groin); Ledley King (foot); Danny Murphy (Achilles); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Ricardo Rocha (ineligible); - (-); - (-); 

SC Braga :  -  - (-); - (-); - (-); 


ITV 1 - (live coverage)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   3    SC Braga   2      (Half-time score : 2-1)

UEFA Cup - Round of 16 - Second Leg
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Wednesday 14th March 2007
Kick Off :  8.15 p.m.
Crowd :   33,761
Referee :  Laurent Duhamel (France)
Weather :  -  Dry, mild
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


YP Lee

Lennon (Ghaly 81)

Keane (c) (Defoe 66)

Unused subs
Charlie Lee 

SC Braga :

Paulo Santos

Luis Filipe
Paulo Jorge (c)
Rodriguez (Nem 40)
Carlos Fernandes


Joao Pinto (Cesinha 74)
Ze Carlos (Maciel 74)

Unused subs
Dani Mallo
Ricardo Chaves
Bruno Gama

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  SC Braga
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 28
Berbatov 42
Malbranque 76

SC Braga

Huddlestone (o.g.) 24
Andrade 61

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Berbatov (kicking ball away)
Malbranque (simulation)   


SC Braga

Luis Filipe (dissent)
Joao Pinto(foul)
Andrade (dissent)  


Match Report : -  
Spurs made heavy weather of progressing to the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup despite looking comfortable in the early stages of the second leg against Sporting Braga, but the match ended in another entertaining goal-laden affair.

3-2 does not properly reflect the balance of play with Radek Cerny wondering what he has done wrong in a previous life to be on the end of three goals last Sunday and two tonight, all of which he could do little about.  For all the chances Spurs carved out early on, they failed to capitalise on them to put the aggregate score beyond Braga and thus there was always a way open for the Portuguese side to get into the game.

There was a confident air about Tottenham, as they stroked the ball about for long periods in the first half, while Braga seemed to be running around in a vain pursuit of the ball.  Perhaps Tottenham should have had a penalty in the 13th minute, when Keane's jinking run to the line saw him pull the ball back and Braga captain Jorge slid in to block, but the ball appeared to come off his hand inside the area.  Unfortunately, neither referee M. Dumahel, nor his linesman brother failed to spot it.

Following the two soft awards Braga that led to goals were handed in the first leg, it was therefore galling that the first goal of the evening came from another cheap free-kick the referee gifted to the Portuguese.  The free-kick was whipped in fast and although Huddlestone was on the front edge of the penalty area, the ball skidded off his head and flew into the top corner out of the reach of Cerny's despairing dive.  Going a goal down was not the worse thing, but at 3-3 on aggregate, it would only take a slip in defence for the visitors to go ahead.

Robbie Keane's movement was causing Braga problems and he manoeuvred the ball to make a yard for himself in the box, but went for power and his shot flew over the top.  It was only a brief respite, as when the Irish striker broke forward, he was faced by five Braga defenders on the edge of their area.  Holding the ball up and seeking support, Berbatov made an intelligent run on the left behind the line of defenders and a shrewd ball through allowed his to take his shot first time.  Not only that but it was expertly delivered past Paulo Santos with the outside of the right foot to pass the ball into the back of the net in a true class forward's way.  But that was nothing compared to what was to come.

The only blot on Berbatov's copybook came when he tried to stop a free-kick being taken quickly and toe poked the ball away, earning his second yellow card of the competition, but meaning he was on the brink of a ban with one more caution.  A mysterious move involving a low cross by Lee, some messing about with the ball by Keane and Malbranque and it finding itself at the feet of Berbatov with only the keeper to beat in the six yard box still failed to result in a goal.  The Bulgarian tried to dig the ball out over the prone keeper, but it was blocked away and the chance evaporated.  This pre-empted another goalmouth scramble with Lennon's low cross finding Keane, who hit a cross-shot that Steed tried to back-heel in from in front of the goal, but once more Santos managed to get behind the ball.

With Malbranque and Andrade exchanging long range efforts at each end, play was quite open, but none more so than three minutes before the break when Hud took a quick free-kick from 30 yards and found Berbatov on his own on the edge of the 18 yard box.  Surely we would see him given offside, but not this time.  So, he took the ball on his chest and without waiting for a whistle, he thumped the ball on the volley past the keeper, who stood no chance.  It was another goal of class and supreme finishing ability, but more than that it was a goal that literally left the crowd gasping.  When he hit it there was an audible intake of breath from the supporters, who could not believe what they were seeing.

At half-time, Tony Parks, the hero of the 1984 UEFA Cup final penalty shoot-out was introduced to the crowd and he recounted the following morning's appearance, worse for wear on the TV-AM show that drew a disapproving look from Anne Diamond !!  Now there's a seal of approval if ever there was one !!

Although Cerny had conceded he looked solid in goal, coming for crosses and making good decisions on whether to catch or punch.  He took a couple of dipping free-kicks well, which bounced right in front of him at his feet, but was left grasping air when another soft free-kick 30 yards out was drilled with great power through the wall by Andrade.  Having a player falling back into the wall and taking them with him helped make the gap to shoot through though.  So we were now at 5-4 to Tottenham, but just one goal away from seeing the thirty minutes extra time be playable.  It was something Spurs did not need with all the fixtures they have played lately, so something had to be done.

With Spurs being forced to play Chimbonda in the middle, where he had a good game, but looked like Clive Dunn in his white grand-dad long johns.  Stalteri had another good match at right back in Pascal's place and Lee enjoyed some space up the left too.  Chimbonda had a header early in the second half that went wide across the goal, when it looked like he should have done better with it and when he went forward for corners, he caused panic in the area.  One such set-piece saw the ball drop in front of the Braga goal and two Spurs players were sent sprawling with it looking like a penalty was a certainty.  But once more, the ref ignored claims.

A double sub by the side from Portugal was made to put some fresh legs into the team, but Tottenham dealt with it well.  In fact, they went on to restore their lead in the game with a finely worked goal.  Lee knocked a pass inside to Malbranque who laid it off to Berbatov in the centre of the box.  Steed continued his run and took a deft flick from Dimitar's foot to knock the ball past Santos as he tried to close him down to net a neat finish.  Berbatov's importance, not only with his goals, but with his assists show that he has been a fine buy.

When the referee ruled out Huddlestone's firm finish because he hand-balled in the build up to his "goal". it looked like Braga might get a let off, but the big midfielder almost wrapped up the inw with a fine low half-volley that ripped a foot off the floor and missed by a yard with the keeper rooted to the spot.  He had been having some fun with the Park Lane fans, who were wolf-whistling him in his tight fitting shirt and shorts.  I am sure his toe-touching stretched with his back to the supporters was not designed to stretch his hamstrings !!

One more weak refereeing decisions saw a 30 yard free-kick being lined up by Andrade, but this time, he perhaps showed the earlier effort was a fluke, as this one ended up not in the net, but in row L of the top tier in the Paxton Road stand.  The final goal might have gone to Spurs, as Malbranque broke into the box and was wiped out by Filipe, but the wonderful match official decided that the Frenchman had thrown himself, so booked him for simulation !!  Replays showed that we should have had a spot-kick.

With the minutes running out and Braga dunning after the ball, Spurs made one more chance, with Zokora breaking forward and playing it to Defoe, who was on for Keano.  Stalteri moved wide and took the pass before playing it neatly into Berbatov, but he was under pressure and he could only poke it wide, when it looked an easier chance than the two he had scored.

With the final whistle, a tired Spurs side celebrated, while Braga realised that one the night, they had fresher legs all round, but could not match the hunger and ability this Tottenham team demonstrated.  When few players put in a bad performance, it is tough to take anything against them and Braga only got the shirts they exchanged at the end of the match to take back home with them.

For Tottenham, another quarter final awaits and another chapter in the European history of the club is to be written.



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