Slavia Prague
(Czech Republic)
UEFA Cup - Round of 32 - Second leg

Thursday 21st February 2008

Having let slip a good lead (quite literally in Radek Cerny's case), Tottenham find this second leg a bit more problematical than they might have done had they taken all their chances in Prague.

Letting the home side back into the tie, Tottenham find themselves now having a tougher proposition as they seek to progress to the quarter-finals.  With Slavia coming out of their winter break hibernation, their play was disjointed and with a week's break, Tottenham should be fresh and ready to take them on, but they should not under-estimate the team they know a bit more about now.

Cerny looks a tricky winger and while Strihavka scored, his spell at Norwich City, where he failed to impress, might exemplify why he lacks strength to be a top striker.

The keeper Vaniak had a fine game in the first leg, but could he repeat the heroics this time ?  It is really up to our forwards to ensure that he does not get a chance to and the finishing of the strikers will inevitably lead to the finishing of the tie, but a goal for the visitors tomorrow might make the side a bit jittery.

Ramos is instilling a winning mentality and ahead of Sunday's League Cup final, the side need to keep a run going.  Two away goals will be handy, as I cannot see Slavia netting twice, but it will need a composed performance from Spurs and I can see it happening in a win to go through to a tie against PSV Eindhoven or Helsingborgs ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3     Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)  0


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Michael Dawson (hamstring); Kevin-Prince Boateng (hamstring); Gilberto (calf); Alan Hutton (ineligible); Ledley King (knee); Gareth Bale (foot); - (-); - (-); 

SLAVIA PRAGUE  :  - (-); - (-); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   1    Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)   1      (Half-time score : 1-0)

UEFA Cup Round of 32 - second leg
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Thursday 21st February 2008
Kick Off :  7.45 p.m.
Crowd :   34,224
Referee :  J. Eriksson (Sweden)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, mild at start, getting colder as the game went on
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Robinson (c)

  2  Chimbonda  (16  Malbranque 61)
39  Woodgate
  5  Kaboul
  6  Tainio

25  Lennon (  8  Jenas 69)
22  Huddlestone
  4  Zokora
24  O'Hara

23  Bent  (10  Keane 46)
  9  Berbatov

Unused subs: 
12  Radek Cerny
  3  Y P Lee
17  Taarabt

34  Rocha

Slavia Prague (Czech Republic) :

  1  Voriel

12  Drizdal (28  Volesak 80)
  6  Latka
  3  Brabec
  4  Hubacek

17 Suchy
17  Pudil      
19  Krajcek (21  Belaid 87)      
25  Kalivoda (20  Ivana 46)

22  Strihavka
34  Jaroslav Cerny      

Unused subs: 
28  Vaniak
  2  Tavares
13  Sourek

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur

  Slavia Prague
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

O'Hara  7

Slavia Prague

Krajcek 50

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

O'Hara (time wasting) 90  



Slavia Prague

Krajcek (foul) 44
Pudil (foul) 71
Ivana (foul) 86   


Match Report : -  
Jamie O'Hara's first Tottenham goal proved just enough to see Spurs through to the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup in an uninspiring performance against a sprightly Slavia Prague side, who pushed for a goal to take the tie into extra time in the second half, without succeeding.

It wasn't for the want of trying, as they hit the post, but then twice Spurs struck wood and while the panic of the Czechs getting a goal back, the fact that they would have needed two more to go through was unlikely, but one more to take the game into extra time and then penalties was perhaps a more likely outcome.

As it turned out, the changed Spurs side, with the League Cup final in mind, held out, with Zokora and Woodgate putting in good performances at the back and Paul Robinson behind them making two very good saves to keep Slavia out.

Unfortunately, it might have been the nature of the early goal for Spurs that made them relax and cede the impetus to the Czech league leaders.  Slavia were in the Champions League remember, so even though they finished third in their group, they are no mugs.

The paid back Spurs approach might have made an important mistake in considering that they would roll over for Tottenham.  With Robinson in goal, Kaboul came back into the middle of the defence and Darren Bent started up front.  Without a great deal of the service he thrives on, he played well.  He holds the ball well and even though he had trouble going past players, he twice hit the frame of the goal and won a few first headers.

The game started with one of the Slavia players making his mark ... with his studs into Tainio's thigh. It was a message that they were after Spurs and felt that a tough start might make the home players shrink into their shells, as they would not want to risk injury before the final on Sunday.  It didn't work out for them, as, even with a lenient Swede reffing the game, the Tottenham team bit back in their tackles and gave no quarter.

A throw-in out on the right wing saw Tainio launch it into the area and although Kaboul's flick on was cleared, Berbatov took the ball out of the air and knocked it to his side, where Jamie O'Hara stepped inside and rifled a shot on goal that took a touch off Latka to beat goalkeeper Variel.  It was strange that Vaniak was left out after such an outstanding goalkeeping performance, but for O'Hara, it was a great moment and for the team, it gave them a 3-1 advantage.

While there looked little chance of Slavia scoring in the first half, Tottenham once more failed to take the opportunities they created.  Luckily, O'Hara's effort was driven low on target for the goal, as a minute or so later, he tried to repeat the shot and sliced it so badly, it didn't make it off the pitch.  With 20 minutes gone, Tom Huddlestone struck one of his fierce shot son target and the keeper managed to beat it out, but it came back to Aaron Lennon, running in on goal, but he was unable to get a proper connection on the ball and scuffed it into the ground leaving no harm to the Slavia goal.  Aaron got away down the right soon after and his cross to the far post was met by O'Hara's left foot and his volley skipped across the face of the goal with no other Spurs player unable to get on the end of it.

With Darren Bent recovered from injury, but lacking confidence, he came close to adding to his goal total with a header on O'Hara's cross that looped up over the goalie and bounced back off the crossbar.  A foul on Berbatov (one of the few awarded) brought a free-kick 25 yards out and Jamie stepped up to hit a shot on goal, but landed the ball on the roof of the net.

At the other end, Paul Robinson was called upon to make his first save on 34 minutes, when he got down quickly to his right to stop a low shot from Cerny that was in a difficult position for keeper's to stop, just under his midriff as he dived.  There was little of note left in the remainder of the half and Berbatov's non-appearance saw Robbie Keane take to the field and take the captain's armband, making an immediate impact, when he got on the end of Lennon's low cross and he volleyed the ball off target.

Then, with little warning, Slavia levelled.  Pudil got away down the left wing and played the ball in along the line of the six yard box, leaving the defenders and keeper nervous about getting a touch on the ball, but Krajcek had no such qualms running in at the far post.  He bulged the net as he stretched to reach the ball and suddenly the 1-0 lead looked a bit more fragile.

Within five minutes, a twisted knee from a tackle on a Slavia player left Pascal Chimbonda limping and he soon made way for Malbranque to move into midfield and O'Hara go back to Chimbonda's slot.  The changes had not yet settled when Cerny's free-kick ended with Drizda; having an unchallenged header, but he could only direct it at Robinson, to the Spurs fans relief.  The England Number One was called upon to clutch a header from Drizdal, getting down to the ball well.  Robinson was grateful to the upright when a 68th minute cross was headed back by Pudil and former Norwich City loanee David Strihavka turned to shoot from around the penalty spot and there was a gasp as the ball struck the post and luckily for Tottenham bounce out.

Almost immediately, Ramos brought on Jermaine Jenas for Aaron Lennon and then Steed did so well in getting away on the left wing to set up Bent for a shot at the near post that he nudged just wide.  Still Slavia strove to get back in it and Ivana's 75th minute free-kick that fizzed around the wall brought a fine diving save from Robinson, who could not have had a good view of it.  The keeper then made sure he did not make the same mistake as Cerny last week, when the Slavia Cerny put a very high ball in to the far post, but Robinson took no chances and knocked the ball over the top.

The ref brought out yellow cards quite regularly, but he totally missed Volesak's elbow to Huddlestone's head right in front of him.  There were a number of odd occasions when he allowed play to continue when it would have seemed a caution might have been more appropriate.

With seven minutes left, Darren Bent popped up to get on the end of a Tainio through pass and a sharply taken shot flicked Latka's leg as it headed goalwards and it left Vareil stranded.  "Unlucky" might become Bent's nickname soon, as he watched the ball take an age to hit the bar and drop into a replacement keeper's arms.

And that was about the last chance, leaving Spurs to go through to meet PSV Eindhoven, which will be a much tougher match.  This performance was just about good enough to get Spurs through and perhaps the Cup Final might have been on their mind, leaving them less than determined to put 100% in, although some players did.

The result was the main thing tonight to get closer to winning the competition and the purpose was served by the draw.  With Chelsea on Sunday, the team will change again and that might have been a factor in the performance too.

We will just have to hope to go one better at Wembley.



Reaction : -






Other scores this round :
Panathanaikos (GRE) 1 Glasgow Rangers (SCO) (1-1 - go through on away goals) 1 Thursday
Everton (win 8-1 on agg.) 6 Brann Bergen (NOR) 1 Thursday
Getafe (SPA) 3 AEK Athens (GRE) (win 4-1 on agg.) 0 Thursday
Bordeaux (FRA) 1 Anderlecht (BEL) (win 3-2 on agg.) 1 Thursday
Bayer Leverkusen (GER) (win 5-1 on agg.) 5 Galatasaray (TUR) 1 Thursday
Spartak Moscow (RUS) 2 Marseille (FRA) (win 3-2 on agg.) 0 Thursday
Helsinborgs (NOR) 1 PSV Eindhoven (HOL) (win 4-2 on agg.) 2 Thursday
Basle (SWI) 0 Sporting Lisbon (POR) (win 5-0 on agg.) 3 Thursday
Villareal (SPA) 2 Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS) (2-2 - go through on away goals) 1 Thursday
SC Braga (POR) 0 Werder Bremen (GER) (win 4-0 on agg.) 1 Thursday
Atletico Madrid (SPA) 0 Bolton Wanderers (win 1-0 on agg.) 0 Thursday
Bayern Munich (GER) (win 7-3 on agg.) 5 Aberdeen (SCO) 1 Thursday
Nuremburg (GER) 2 Benfica (POR) (win 3-2 on agg.) 2 Thursday
Hamburg (GER) (win 3-1 on agg.) 0 FC Zurich (SWI) 0 Thursday
Fiorentina (ITA) 2 Rosenberg (NOR) (win 3-1 on agg.) 1 Thursday



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