OPPONENTS Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia)
DATE Thursday 22nd August 2013
VENUE Boris Paichadze Stadium






All I know about the opposition for this Europa League play off is that they are the current Georgian champions, they lost to Steaua Buchresti in the Champions League qualifier and I remember that when we beat them 5-1 at home in the second leg of the UEFA Cup tie in 1973, all our goals were scored with headers.

They might be better in the air these days, but I know little about their current team. 

So there is little that I can say to shed light on what the match might hols, other than to cast a word of caution, with Glasgow Celtic having lost to Shakthar Karagandy (Who are they ?  Exactly !) this week after a long trek East.  Spurs will no doubt put a reasonably strong side out, as they are fresh and keen to get accustomed to the new players who have been brought in, so there should be a professional approach that might see us bring a slim lead back to the Lane.

PREDICTION Dinamo Tbilisi    1         Tottenham Hotspur    2
Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Aaron Lennon (foot), Sandro (knee), Lewis Holtby (knee) and Emmanul Adebayor (bereavement) are all left out of the squad that travelled to Georgia and Younes Kaboul might start in the team for the first time in a year.

ITV 4 - 19:00 (live)

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If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
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South Africa 
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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)

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Dinamo Tbilisi  0 (0)                                                                                     Tottenham Hotspur  5 (2)
Europa League Play-off First leg
Thursday 22nd August 2013                               Kick off 17:00 (UK time)
Boris Paichadze Stadium
Townsend  11
Paulinho  43
Soldado  57
Rose  64
Soldado  66
Khurtsilava (foul on )  20
Gvelesiani (foul on )  29


Dembele (foul on )  37
Rose (foul on )  59


Crowd :   22,500 Weather :  Warm
Referee :  Pol van Boekel (Holland) Assistant Referees :  Davie Goossens (Holland), Bas van Dongen (Holland)
Fourth Official :  Ed Janssen (Holland) -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the South Stand (Tsabadze Street) end in the first half.
Dinamo Tbilisi : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
77  Giorgi LLORIA

30  Giorgi GVELESIANI     
  David KHURTSILAVA      

  Darko GLISIC (15  Giorgi PAPAVA 46)
88  Irakli DZARIA (21  Dorin GOGA 82)

  9  Jaba DVALI
28  XISCO Munoz  (99  VOUHO 42)

Unused subs: 
25  Tornike ZARKUA

  25  Hugo LLORIS

20  Michael DAWSON
  4  Younes KABOUL (c)
  3  Danny ROSE        

  8  PAULINHO    (28  Tom CARROLL 71)
15  Etienne CAPOUE

17  Andros TOWNSEND 
19  Mousa DEMBELE     
22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON  (21  Nacer CHADLI 61)

  9  Roberto SOLDADO      (37  Harry KANE 72)

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

  2  Kyle WALKER
35  Zeki FRYERS
41  Shaquile COULTHIRST

Manager :  Dusan Uhrin Jr. Manager :  Andre Villas-Boas
Sponsor :   None Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Spurs eased through this Europa League play-off, without even having to go through the gears, as they raced into a 5-0 first leg lead to take back to White Hart Lane next week, when we can expect to see a range of our younger players given a starting role against a Dinamo Tbilisi side that looks as thought they had given up the ghost by the hour mark.

Putting out a strong side, AVB sent a message that he was taking this competition seriously and wanted to gain a big enough margin not to have to risk too many first teamers in the second leg, just before we face Arsenal.  So, Tottenham kicked off first half in stadium that saw England's 2-0 World Cup qualifier win in November 1996, with Teddy Sheringham and Les Ferdinand scoring the goals.  In our traditional European kit of all white, Spurs faced Tbilisi in all dark blue.

It took seven minutes for Spurs to threaten the Tbilisi goal, when a defensive slip by a  defender in the area as Soldado ran at goal, produced a loose ball, but it couldn't be collected by Gylfi Sigurdsson and ball was cleared straight to the other end for Tbilisi to break, but it was snuffed out by Kyle Naughton, getting a start in place of Kyle Walker.  A minute later, Paulinho fired a 25 yarder way over the bar.

The home team were nippy on the flanks and when Grigalashvili broke  between two defenders into the right hand corner of box, captain Younes Kaboul came across and conceded a corner to stop the threat.  From that corner, Dawson's head cleared the cross and Naughton won the ball with it reaching  Townsend halfway inside his own half.  Running directly at the heart of the Dinamo defence and moving to his left as he reached  20 yards out at the other end, he shot low to the right to beat the keeper who couldn't react.

An away goal 11 minutes into the match gave Spurs confidence and the freedom to play.  With some neat one touch football, playing little triangles, Spurs were comfortable on the ball, but a little to comfortable sometimes, as when Capoue was robbed of the ball outside his own penalty area in the 15th minute by Dvali, who then shot wide with only Lloris to beat, but it had been a foul to gain possession and Spurs had a free-kick.  A couple of minutes later, Soldado fired a low shot on goal at the near post, after  Townsend tried to cross from right, but two defenders cut it out and then tried to keep it in, only to gift the ball to the Spaniard.  Although only a couple of yards out, Lloria got down low to beat it out the shot.  Townsend was causing havoc down the right and  one run brought a yellow card for Gvelesiani who fouled Andros as he cut inside to edge of D and was fouled by the Tbilisi defender.  From the free-kick, Gylfi Sigurdsson bent the ball around the right side of the wall, but could not get it to come back enough and it hit the outside of the side-netting.

Tbilisi brought a save out of Hugo Lloris after 25 minutes, when a low cross in from the left saw Dvali stoop low ahead of the near post, about eight yards out, to head across goal.  Our keeper had to be on his toes to dive to his left to push the ball wide of goal.  When Spurs broke forward next, Khurtsilava was booked for bad tackle on Sigurdsson and it was the Icelander who played a neat one-two with Soldado on the half hour on the edge of the Dinamo box, but was stopped by two defenders in front him, with Rose free outside him on left.

Tbilisi got a bit more of the ball in this period of the game and Lloris had to rush out to volley ball away from edge of box as diagonal ball came in on 35 minutes, then Dembele was booked for a foul on Merebashvili from behind in the centre circle, just prior to Grigalashvili lashing a shot over the bar from outside box.  The hosts lost Xisco about five minutes before the break, with the more muscular, but equally ineffective, Vuoho coming on.  With two minutes remaining in the first half, Naughton played a nice chip over the left back for Townsend to run in on the right wing.  He got to the line, checked back, selling full back and allowing him to dink a cross to the middle of goal for the unmarked Paulinho to head in past the exposed goalkeeper from five yards out.  At 2-0, the game was almost sealed.

In injury time at the end of the first half, a free-kick was cleared out to Rose, 40 yards out and he hit a first time shot low but straight at keeper.  No repeat of the Arsenal goal this time !!

Spurs had controlled play during the first 45 and were only under any pressure when Tbilisi broke, but that was as a result of Tottenham committing men forward. They held onto possession well and worked space for chances to be created, scoring two very good goals and Andros Townsend had given them a torrid time on the right side.

There were no changes at the break, with the opening to second half being slightly scrappy.  It took ten minutes for the first chance and it came from a Spurs corner.  Tbilisi broke with Gregalashvili crossing low from the right and Naughton cutting it out before it got to Dinamo player at the far post.  Dvali then turned on a shot to hit the target, but it was low and straight at Lloris.

In the 58th minute, Townsend was again the maker of a goal and this did wrap the game up.  Townsend raced away from his marker and got to the dead ball line, from where he pulled the ball back low from the right for Soldado to finish low at the near post on the corner of the six yard box to make it 3-0.  It was all becoming a bit too easy.

Danny Rose picked up a yellow card for a foul on Khurtsilava, which was rich as at this stage the home players starting grappling Tottenham's as they went past them.  Chadli came on for Sigurdsson, as Spurs started to rest players for Sunday's match with Swansea City and on the other flank Townsend was till tearing it up, this time dinking a cross for Paulinho to try an outrageous overhead kick that was way off target.  Rose was the outlet for Chadli's left wing run, pulling the ball back  to the full back 20 yards out on left of D, hitting a first time shot across keeper to pick out the top right hand corner of the net for Tottenham's fourth goal.  That was in the 64th minute and then three minutes later, it was five, when Chadli got away on the left and put in low cross in corridor of uncertainty and Soldado volleyed in from the edge of the six yard box in the middle of the goal.
Tbilisi tried to make a fight of it, with Merebashvili cutting onto his left foot centrally placed, but his low shot was straight at Lloris.  Paulinho and Soldado were withdrawn, giving Kane and Carroll the chance to stretch their legs, both of whom will now probably start on the second leg.  Chadli was doing well on the left wing, with his strong build making him look like Martin Chivers playing on the wing !!

Tottenham's most worrying moment came with 15 minutes left, as Khurtsilava crossed low to the near post for Dvali, who hit a low shot that Lloris kept out with legs before Dawson cleared.  Another chance for Tbilisi came courtesy of Kaboul and Dawson getting in a mix-up, with the former kicking the ball against the latter in the middle of our penalty area, leaving Dvali with a clear shot that he pt across Lloris, but the French international dived to his right to push the ball wide.  Then out of nowhere, there was a kid running onto the pitch.  I hope that he was signed up by the home team, as he showed more movement off the ball than a lot of their players.  I am sure UEFA will look into this and they should also look at the use of laser pens, as Chadli had one shone on him as he went to take a throw-in.  Things could have got even worse for Dinamo, as the Belgian winger stood up a great cross from the left for Kane on the other side of the box.  The striker headed the ball back the way it had come and left the goalkeeper stranded, but he was saved by the post, with the ball rebounding out to safety.

The last chance of the match came with four minutes of normal time left, as Grigalashvili crossed low from the right and Vuoho shot wide from about 10 yards out.   The remainder of the time was spent with Spurs keeping the ball and Kane nearly getting away but he was stopped by a good tackle and then it was all over.

Spurs had rendered the second leg almost meaningless with this comprehensive victory.  In doing so, they have the chance to leave players out for other games and give the youngsters a go, as well as showing the world that even without Bale, they can put in a professional showing to see off the opposition.  Dinamo weren't the greatest team, but you can only beat what is put in front of you and we have struggled against teams of this type in Europe before, so to win this convincingly is satisfying.

The group stage looks a reality unless something happens to Tbilisi in the next week, so it means more games, more travelling and with a little bit of luck ... more goals !!

Mick Stevenson


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What you thought
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Other play-off scores :
Swansea City 5 Petrolul Ploiesti (ROM) 1 Thursday
Udinese (ITA) 1 Liberec (CZE) 3 Thursday
Salzburg (AUS) 5 Zaligris (LIT) 0 Thursday
Appollon (CYP) 2 Nice (FRA) 0 Thursday
Aktobe (KAZ) 2 Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) 3 Thursday
Jablonec (CZE) 1 Real Betis (SPA) 2 Thursday
Kuban (RUS) 1 Feyenoord (HOL) 0 Thursday
Qarabag (AZE) 0 Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) 1 Thursday
Macabbi Haifa (ISR) 2 Astra (ROM) 0 Thursday
Atrimitros (GRE) 1 AZ Alkmaar (HOL) 3 Thursday
FC Minsk (BLR) 0 Standard Liege (BEL) 2 Thursday
St. Gallen (SWI) 2 Spartak Moscow (RUS) 2 Thursday
Molde (NOR) 0 Rubin Kazan (RUS) 2 Thursday
Esjberg (DEN) 4 St. Etienne (FRA) 3 Thursday
Kalju (EST) 1 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) 3 Thursday
Kukes (ALB) 0 Trabzonspor 2 Thursday
FH Hafnarffjordur (ICE) 0 Genk (BEL) 2 Thursday
Tromso (NOR) 2 Besiktas (TUR) 0 Thursday
Elfsborg (SWE) 1 Nordslaelland (DEN) 1 Thursday
Sevilla (SPA) 4 Slask Wroclaw (POL) 1 Thursday
Pandurii (ROM) 0 Sporting Braga (POR) 1 Thursday
Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR) P PAOK (GRE) P Thursday
Chernomorets Odesa (UKR) 1 Skenderbeu (ALB) 0 Thursday
Partizan Belgrade (SER) 1 FC Thun  (SWI) 0 Thursday
Rijeka (CRO) 2 VfB Stuttgart (GER) 1 Thursday
Vojvodina (SER) 1 Sherrif (MOL) 1 Thursday
Zulte Waregem (BEL) 1 APOEL Nicosia (CYP) 1 Thursday
Grasshoppers  (SWI) 1 Fiorentina (ITA) 2 Thursday
Rapid Wien (AUS) 1 Dila (GEO) 0 Thursday
Estoril (POR) 2 Pashing () 0 Thursday
- - - - Thursday


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