Spartak Moscow (Russia) (Home)
UEFA Cup Group D

Thursday 18th December 2008

Although Spartak finished their season a month ago, the match should pose a tough assignment for the young team that Harry Redknapp will field for this UEFA Cup match.

The Russians have to win by at least two goals and hope that Nijmegen win by an equally big margin against Udinese for Spurs to be knocked out of the competition.  At the moment, Harry Redknapp sees it as a bit of a hindrance, with his priority being league points, but it is a cup that Spurs have traditionally done well in and could get a way in again.  The teams in the UEFA Cup this year include some big names from European football and more are likely to join them in the next stage when the Champions League drop-outs get a second bite at the cherry.  However, I am sure that Redknapp would relish the opportunity to pit his wits against some of the big names of continental football.

With only one fit and eligible player to play up front, Fraizer Campbell will no doubt be our lone striker.  Modric will play in the hole behind him and with Bentley and Lennon giving width to the midfield, it will be important for whoever gets a midfield berth alongside these three to get up and support Campbell in the area.

There are a number of younger players in the squad for the game, as Juande Ramos was so sure that Ghaly, Stalteri, Taarabt and Rocha would not be part of his plans, that he left them off the squad list submitted to UEFA, meaning any addition to that list has to come from our youth team.  It is a great opportunity for those players to get some first team experience and to show what they can do against a decent side.  Michael Laudrup has previous at the Lane, winning last season with Getafe, on the day when Martin Jol lost his job as Head Coach.

However, he might find it tougher this season, despite Tottenham's lack of options.  The side will be up against one who hasn't played a meaningful game in weeks and last season dropped back in the top division, as they finished back in eighth position and will not have European football next season.  Of the players in their squad you might recognise, Croatian keeper Stipe Pletikosa was once on Tottenham's transfer wish list and will be well known to Modric and Corluka, while Gabriel Tamas courted interest from English clubs after he played well in defence for Romania and in the Champions League for Galatasaray.  Somewhat ironically, in view of our current lack of strikers, Spurs bought Roman Pavlyuchenko from Spartak and are also interested in Bordeaux's Argentinian forward Fernando Cavenaghi, who was on loan at the Russian club last season.  Martin Stranzl is an Austrian international defender and Dimitri Torbinsky might be best remembered for his part in Russia's progress in the European Championships as a darting, dark-haired midfielder.  You might have known another of their players, Dutch born Quincy Owosu-Abeyie, but he is now on loan at Birmingham City after previously playing in England for Arsenal.

Spartak lost to Udinese and NEC Nijmegen, with their sole win coming in a 1-0 away win at Zagreb, so they need to win.  Tottenham need the draw to go through and it will be in second or third place if the result goes that way ... but if you are going to win things you have to beat the best teams sometime ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Spartak Moscow  1


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (broken foot);  Giovani Dos Santos (ankle); Paul Stalteri (ankle); Vedran Corluka (cup-tied); Roman Pavlyuchenko (cup-tied); Jonathan Woodgate (back); Ledley King (knee); Darren Bent (tonsillitis); Jermaine Jenas (calf); - (-); - (-); 

SPARTAK MOSCOW :  - (-); - (-); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   2    Spartak Moscow   2      (Half-time score : 0-2)

UEFA Cup Group D
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Thursday 18th December 2008
Kick Off :  7.45 p.m.
Crowd :   28,905
Referee :  Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
Spartak kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Mild, with some rain showers
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1 Gomes

16  Gunter
  4  Zokora
20  Dawson (c)
11  Gilberto (  7  Lennon 46)

  5  Bentley
  6  Huddlestone
24  O'Hara
  3  Bale

14  Modric

18  Campbell

Unused subs: 
21  Cesar
32  Assou-Ekotto
51  Bostock
52  Parrett
63  Dervite
80  Obika

Spartak Moscow :

- Pletikosa


Shishkin (Bazhenov 85)
Ryzhkov (Grigorev 60)
Maloyan (Zotov 73)


Unused subs: 
- Dzanaev

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Spartak Moscow
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Modric 67
Huddlestone 74

Spartak Moscow

Dzjuba 23
Dzjuba 33

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  



Spartak Moscow



Match Report : -  
With an injury and absentee hit squad, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp may have gone into the game with less than his usual enthusiasm, but a second half fight back recovered a 0-2 situation to gain the draw that Tottenham needed to progress to the UEFA Cup round of 32.

Surreally enough, as the game went on and the result came in from the NEC Nijmegen game, one more goal for Tottenham would have left Spurs top of the group and facing a third place team from another group in the next stage of the competition.  As it was we now have to play a drop out from the Champions League repercharge.

With Spartak not having played for a few weeks, It was hoped that Spurs would get a quick start to catch the Russians on the hop.  While Tottenham moved the ball around well, they failed top produce a killer pass in the last third of the pitch, with crosses not finding a Tottenham head on most occasions.  Spartak were starting to get into the game and Mayolan put a dangerous ball into the area along the six yard line, but Gomes came out to grab the ball before if got through to a red shirted player and then caught Dzuba's shot from inside the area, which was directed straight at him.

While the ball was being passed well, Spartak were starting to close Spurs down and when Bale hit a pass back to Gilberto, the Brazilian left it for his compatriot in goal, even though Gomes was further away from the ball than him.  With the two caught in no-man's land, Dzuba nipped in to prod the ball through the keeper's legs to give Moscow the lead in the 23rd minute.  This gave the visitors some confidence to push forward, with manager Michael Laudrup having inspired his side to victory at White Hart Lane last season, when he was coach of Getafe.

After the restart, Spartak tested Gomes with a 20-yarder from Rizhkov, forcing Gomes to tip it wide and then had to save from a Fathi volley.  Spurs at last caused some consternation in the Russian penalty area when O'Hara played a low ball across the face of goal, with no white shirt there to turn it in.  Spurs went closer in the 31st minute, as Fraizer Campbell did well to retrieve possession from a seemingly lost position and draw the ball back for Tom Huddlestone to drive a shot at goal that Pletikosa fisted out double-handed, but looked less than secure.  However, a couple of minutes later, a moment of skill by lanky striker Dzuba left Zokora standing as the ball was nicked around him, with Tottenham holding a defensive line trying to play offside.  The forward ran past the Spurs defence and Gomes came out as far as he could, but Dzuba slid the ball past the keeper to make it 2-0.  It had suddenly become a position that Spurs did not want to find themselves in.

With the ball moving upfield from the kick off, Tottenham had a good opening, when Bale put in a deep cross to Bentley at the far post, but he was caught in two minds about whether to get a header on goal or to head it across goal for a colleague.  This left it floating and being picked out of the air by the Spartak keeper.  Another header, this time by Dawson from Bentley'#s right wing free-kick, beat Pletikosa, but also the bar, as it flew over the top.

With Gilberto looking like he did not want the ball and not being the fans favourite after the first Spartak goal, Harry brought on Lennon in his place, with Bentley swapping to the left, which gave Tottenham a more potent attacking force on the right wing.  It also allowed space for others, as the Russians doubled up on the speedy winger.  O'Hara made the most of it and put in a far post cross that Campbell got on the end of and his header was well beaten out at full length by Pletikosa in the 50th minute.  The two linked up again three minutes later, when O'Hara almost set up the on loan striker, who took the pass, but slipped as he was about to shoot and the effort went wide.  Bentley almost found Dawson at the near post, but the ball flashed past him and across goal, then Huddlestone hit two long range shots too high.  It looked like Spurs were pushing for a goal to get back in the game, but Zokora's clearance dropped kindly for Dzuba, who hit a shot straight at Gomes thankfully.  The Peter Crouch look-a-like almost grabbed another when he had a free header, but put it well wide.

It was the stroke of luck Spurs needed, as they broke on the right wing, where Aaron Lennon beat his man and got tight to the dead ball line and pulled a low cross into the near post, where Luka Modric made the sort of run the midfielders need to do with only one man up front.  The Croatian tucked away the volley to pull the score back to 1-2.

The first goal for the club from the midfielder sparked Tottenham into some decent attacking play at last.  And the equaliser came six minutes later.  Bentley received the ball from Gareth Bale, who took the return and put in a pacy cross that Tom Huddlestone met at the near post to thump a header past the goalie to level the score to 2-2.  Tom had one of those games, where he does all that is expected of him and hopefully he will be able to take this form into the Premier League and dominate games.

Michael Dawson stayed up front following a set-piece and when Lennon's cross was won by the captain's head, he was unlucky to see his effort flick off a defender and go just wide, as Pletikosa went the other way.  The keeper was also in action as he managed to awkwardly smuggle the ball wide for a corner as Bentley stepped inside his opponent into the box and struck as shot in low to the near post.

Bale had had an uncertain first half, with his touch lacking, but now he had a taste for getting forward and found new energy.  Another low ball into the near post from the left saw Fraizer Campbell slide in with Fathi, but the Spurs man got there first and his effort hit Pletikosa and was kept out.  There was still one last opportunity, when O'Hara hit a hopeful 30-yarder straight at the keeper, who took it comfortably.

I am not sure if Spartak knew of their fate with the score tied, but they failed to make much progress towards the Spurs goal after the equaliser.  As it was, a good second half performance proved enough to go through to the knock-out stage of the UEFA Cup, but with a tie against a Champions League side, the team will need to be more on guard than they were in the first half.  Our cup-tied players may be available by the time the next round comes around, with some more players available if we have made further improvement in our league position.  It is not inconceivable that we could go further in the competition, if the draw is kind to us and if Harry decides it is a necessary evil ... being one of the ways we might get European football next season.



Reaction : -



Thank goodness the players decided to put a bit more into their second half performance in the last third.  And that Aaron Lennon made a half chance for Modric with a great cross and similarly Bale for the fourth goal, which Hud powered a header in to grab the draw we needed.

The tournament so far has seen us just do enough to beat Wisla Krakow to get into the group and the put in a lacklustre performance against Udinese, in which we nearly went to 1-1 before losing 0-2; a straightforward 4-0 win over a poor Dinamo Zagreb side; a lacklustre 1-0 win over a poor side in NEC Nijmegen, who somehow beat Spartak and Udinese and then this draw.  With some big names in the knock-out rounds from this competition and the Champions League, it will take something to get through to the latter stages.


The less than capacity crowd and the number of them who are not regulars, saw the team give Spartak two goals and then come back for a draw.  Just imagine how good we could be if we didn't hand out early Christmas presents. 

I was glad to hear Harry Redknapp come out and say that Gilberto is finished at Spurs.  I do not relish the fact that our players are rubbish, but when one is so obviously not fit to be in the team, then it is only fair that the manager comes out and says so.  How this bloke ever played in the Brazil side, I don't know and it makes Gomes look bad, when really, the outfield player was the one who was responsible.

I know the back four weren't used to playing together, which might have contributed to the two goals, but going forward, we looked hesitant in the first half and when Campbell had chances in the second half, he looked to lack the stamina and the legs when they took him into scoring positions.

With a stronger side out, we might not have found ourselves in that position, but at least we showed that some of the players who do not play regularly are capable of turning in decent performances, with Gunter and O'Hara coming out of it particularly well.









Other scores this round of matches :
Group A
Racing Santander (SPA) 3 Manchester City 1 Thursday
Paris St. Germain (FRA) 4 Twente Enschede (HOL) 0 Thursday
Group B
Benfica (POR) 0 Metalist (RUS) 1 Thursday
Olympiakos (GRE) 4 Hertha Berlin (GER) 0 Thursday
Group C
Sampdoria (ITA) 1 Seville (SPA) 0 Thursday
VfB Stuttgart (GER) 3 Standard Liege (BEL) 0 Thursday
Group D
NEC Nijmegen (HOL) 2 Udinese (ITA) 0 Thursday
Group E
Portsmouth 3 Heerenveen (HOL) 0 Wednesday
AC Milan (ITA) 2 Wolfsburg (GER) 2 Wednesday
Group F
Ajax (HOL) 2 Slavia Prague (CZE) 2 Wednesday
Hamburg SV (GER) 3 Aston Villa 1 Wednesday
Group G
St. Etienne (FRA) 2 Valencia (SPA) 2 Wednesday
Club Brugge (BEL) 0 FC Copenhagen (NOR) 1 Wednesday
Group H
Feyenoord (HOL) 0 Lech Poznan (POL) 1 Wednesday
Deportivo La Coruna (SpA) 1 Nancy (FRA) 0 Wednesday



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