OPPONENTS Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)
DATE Thursday 27th November 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






With the first game between the two sides in this group finishing 0-0, Spurs have played a little better in the competition since then.  Partizan are already out of the Europa League and have not won a game in 16 attempts at this stage of the competition, so I fully expect Spurs to go on to win.

A victory will see Tottenham through to the knock-out stages and while this represents a step in the right direction, the side still have failed to fully gel under Pochettino and there is a need to put in a convincing performance to get the fans onside with a tough match against Everton coming up on Sunday.

Individually, as well as a collective team display, is required, with goals a desperate commodity for the likes of Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and Aaron Lennon.  The way the side take the game to Partizan will be important, as the higher tempo approach employed against Hull when they went down to ten men was more effective than the patient passing game, which allowed the Tigers to press on our men all over the pitch.

Winning at home will be a boost and will allow players top be rested for the trip to Besiktas, who may also be through by the time that game comes around in a  fortnight's time.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    3         Partizan Belgrade    0
Nabil Bentaleb returns to the side, but Spurs will be missing Emmanuel Adebayor (back), Etienne Capoue (knee) and Younes Kaboul, with Federico Fazio suspended for this match.

ITV 4 - 20:00 (live)

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Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)                                                       Partizan Belgrade  1 (0)
Europa League Group C
Thursday 27th November 2014                                                                                  Kick off 20:05
White Hart Lane
Stambouli 49m s None
Stambouli (foul on Lazovic)  51


Grbic (dissent)   72
Ilic (dissent)  86 


Crowd :  28,362 Weather :  Mild, dry
Referee :  Yevhen Aranovskiy (UKR) Assistant Referees :  Oleksandr Voytyuk; Oleksandr Korniyko (UKR)
Fourth Official :  Serhiy Bekker (UKR) Additional Assistants : Serhiy Boiko; Anatoliy Abdula (UKR)
UEFA Delegate :  Claude Runavot (FRA) UEFA Referee Observer : Cyril Zimmermann (SUI)
- kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Partizan Belgrade : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS (c)

33  Ben DAVIES

19  Mousa DEMBELE  (42  Nabil BENTALEB 56)
25  Benjamin STAMBOULI      

  7  Aaron LENNON
  8  PAULINHO  (44  Harry WINKS 87)
11  Erik LAMELA

  9  Roberto SOLDADO (18  Harry KANE 66)

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM
Dominic BALL
15  Eric DIER
23  Christian ERIKSEN

  25  Milan LUKAC

30  Branko ILIC     
13  Lazar CIRCOVIC
  6  Vojislav STANKOVIC
  3  Vladimir VOLKOV

11  Nikola NINKOVIC (17  Andrija ZIVKOVIC 62)
  Sasa ILIC (c)  (29  Nenad MARINKOVIC 74)
32  Petar SKULETIC  (  9  Nemanja KOJIC 78)

14  Petar GRBIC     

27  Danko LAZOVIC

Unused subs: 
  1  Zivko ZIVKOVIC
  5  Nemanja PETROVIC
  7  Predrag LUKA
10  Ismael Beko FOFANA

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Marko Nikolic
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  None
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

With a draw needed for progression to the knock-out stages of the Europa League, Spurs didn't exactly shine on a night when a 1-0 win against Partizan Belgrade was over-taken by events of a non-footballing nature.

It was what turned out to be a mild night and Tottenham's Europa League team took the field with Hugo Lloris as captain and some of the fringe players given their chance to show what they could do.  At the start, it looked like they would show little of note, with Partizan having good early chances to go ahead.  For the first few minutes after kick off, Spurs pressured the Partizan defence with some high tempo passing and movement, but there was only Soldado's shot wide and another blocked to show for the possession.  Kyle Naughton blazed a drive over and then it was the Belgrade club's turn to attack.  When Grbic broke down our left, his cross at head high across the face of goal only needed a touch from Skuletic, but the black-shirted man could not get close enough to head it in. 

Paulinho looked a little more (not a lot) like the player who played well enough for us to break our transfer record for, getting forward to have a shot fly off a defender and over the bar, with another chance just escaping him, when Lamela's pass ran away from him.  But Partizan were finding space, as Spurs backed off them with Grabic eventually being brought down by Stambouli on a rare start, but the free-kick came close to making a good chance, with Lazovic volleying just wide of Lloris' goal.  Skuletic turned provider with a ball in similar to the one he couldn't reach, thus putting it too far ahead of Lazovic this time.  There was a neat lift over Chirches in the box to allow a forward to run onto it and Lloris did well to close him down without committing to a challenge in the area.

Just before this, there was a fat man running on the pitch taking selfies with the Spurs players.  It was raising a lot of hilarity from the StubHubbers who thought it as nothing to cheer every failed attempt from stewards to stop him.  It was like watching our defence against an opposition forward, but in the back of my mind was possible UEFA action against the club.  When the second happened and then the third, the fans booed and the unfortunate idiot who was the last to go on the pitch got a knee in the groin from Mousa Dembele.

The referee took the players off, as his prime focus is their safety and while they seemed mostly harmless (and brainless), you weren't quite sure what was going on or what they might do.  Off the pitch during the stoppage, there were Kosovan and Serbian flags and banners unfurled, which may yet see UEFA take action against the visiting club. 

Straight after the re-start, the Partizan number 11 - Ninkovic - appeared to have taken the stoppage as a personal insult and in one move he had crude challenges on three Spurs players, with the referee obviously un-nerved by the invasions.  During the first half, the ref had seemed to be shadowing Stambouli, as he was always close to him when he got the ball and in the second half, nearly slide tackled Lennon.  To try and even things up he turned without seeing the Belgrade player Marinkovic and almost smacked him in the face as he pointed for a throw-in.

Too often, Spurs were getting into good wide positions and not delivering a ball into the box.  Allowing crosses to be blocked or not picking out a Tottenham man allowed Partizan to play a solid defensive game.  The half ended with Lamela smacking a drive into the advertising hoardings just wide of the goal.

At the break, there was an interview with Micky Hazard, which always goes down well, as he loves the club, but when asked if he loved coming back, he said it was better now than then, as the time gets closer to us passing away ...  As if the first half hadn't been bad enough, there was no need to bring us down any further Micky !!

The Tottenham crossing didn't improve in the second half, with Naughton making a good run up the right, but lifting the ball behind the goal when not under pressure.  I can't help but think that the failure to put decent balls into the box has not helped Roberto Soldado since he joined.  The team seemed to be trying to set him up with a goal and it while didn't come for him, but it did for Spurs just four minutes after half time.  Benjamin Stambouli had pushed forward from his defensive midfield role and played a ball to Robbie into the area just to the right side of centre.  As the keeper dived low, Soldado lifted the ball over him and the crowd willed it to go in.  It seemed to be heading for the far side of the goal, but hit the post and came out.  He was crestfallen, but Benji had followed his run into the box and drove the loose ball into the net.  He was mobbed by team-mates and joined by the personally disappointed Soldado as the Frenchman celebrated his first Tottenham goal.

Stambouli showed the other side of his game just moments afterwards when Lazovic looked like he might break down the left wing and was scythed down, earning Benji a booking.  Spurs upped the pace of their passing and their movement was much better, with Paulinho pushing further forward and looking  a better player for it.  He got a shot that made Lukac dive to save after Stambouli had played him in and then when Soldado found himself directly in front  of goal, the keeper was on him like a flash and while the striker got his shot away, it was smothered by the keeper.

Bentaleb returned to first team action as a sub for Mousa Dembele, who got better in the second half, with his major contribution to the first half being the best tackle he made in a Spurs shirt.  Bentaleb quickened the pace of the passing a bit more and added some industry to the midfield, with Lennon coming more into the play and setting up Lamela's shot that flashed just wide.  Nabil almost put Aaron in with a chop over the defence, butt he keeper was out quickly to catch it on the edge of the box.  Lamela struck a rising shot that went just over the top, after Kane had replaced Soldado, but then the Belgrade side showed they were still a threat, when a cross from Grbic was met by Zivkovic, but he didn't get enough on it and the ball went wide. 

Spurs pressed on with Kane pulling  a low save out of Lukac from a free-kick and the keeper did well to almost turn in the air to tip over a heavily deflected effort by Bentaleb.  With about ten minutes left, Partizan looked to grab something from the game and only good interceptions from Vertonghen and Chirches stopped them getting through, but in between, Kane had a goal disallowed for offside when he was put in by Lennon.  Spurs were once more grateful to their captain Hugo Lloris, who kept Partizan out with a full length dive to push wide a header from Petar Grbic with five minutes left.

Pochettino gave Harry Winks his first taste of first team action with four minutes to go, coming on in place of Paulinho and Spurs could have doubled moments later.   A neat move saw Kane flick the ball through to Stambouli running into the area.  As the keeper came out to close him down, Benji squared the ball to his right where Erik Lamela was, but his pass pushed him too wide and he wasn't able to get a shot on goal, but flashed it across the six yard box at head height.  Unfortunately, Stambouli was just not far enough advanced to get his head on it.

Lamela came closer to scoring in injury time, when he struck a shot destined for the top right hand corner of the keeper's goal, but Lukac got up to fingertip the ball over the bar with a very good save.

Once again, it wasn't a great performance or even a very good one, but Spurs won and did what was necessary.  I can't help but think that these games should be used to try and instil the Poch philosophy into the side, because when we play better teams, there will not be the lack of finishing which Partizan displayed.

So, the remaining game against Besiktas in a fortnight will decide who tops the group, as the Turkish side could only draw in Greece against Asteras tonight.  Whether Pochettino will play a shadow side with the busy Christmas period coming up or go for top spot, only he will know, but a win against a decent side will help going into the knock-out stages of this competition.

Phil Graham




Partizan Belgrade were formed of a group of young men who were from Belgrade and were partial to a dabble with difficult poetry or abstract painting, but thought that this was being partizan instead of being artisan.

With football equipment being difficult to come by between 1967 and 1974, the Partizan players made do with deserters from the military take-over in Greece known as "The Regime of the Colonels".  They made them stand 8 yards apart and thus the football saying "Juntas for goalposts" came into use.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this round :
Group A
FC Zurich (SWI) 3 Apollon Limassol (CYP) 1 Thursday
Villarreal (SPA) 2 Borussia Moenchengladbach (GER) 2 Thursday
Group B
Torino (ITA) 0 Club Brugge (BEL) 0 Thursday
HJK Helsinki (ICE) 2 FC Kobenhavn (DEN) 1 Thursday
Group C
Asteras Triplois (GRE) 2 Besiktas (TUR) 2 Thursday
Group D
Glasgow Celtic 1 Red Bull Salzburg (AUS) 3 Thursday
Astra (ROM) 1 Dinamo Belgrade (SER) 0 Thursday
Group E
Dinamo Moscow (RUS) 2 Panathinaikos (GRE) 1 Thursday
Estoril (POR) P PSV Eindhoven (HOL) P Thursday
Group F
St. Etienne (FRA) 1 Qarabag (AZE) 1 Thursday
Internazionale (ITA) 2 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) 1 Thursday
Group G
HNK Rijeka (CRO) 2 Standard Liege (BEL) 0 Thursday
Feyenoord (HOL) 2 Sevilla (SPA) 0 Thursday
Group H
Wolfsburg (GER) 0 Everton 2 Thursday
Krasnodar (RUS) 1 Lille (FRA) 1 Thursday
Group I
Sparta Prague (CZE) 0 Napoli (ITA) 0 Thursday
Slovan Bratislava (SLK) 1 Young Boys Bern (SWI) 3 Thursday
Group J
Aalborg (DEN) 1 Steaua Bucaresti (ROM) 0 Thursday
Dinamo Kiev (UKR) 2 Rio Ave (POR) 0 Thursday
Group K
Guingamp (FRA) 1 Fiorentina (ITA) 2 Thursday
Dinamo Minsk (BLR) 0 PAOK (GRE) 2 Thursday
Group L
Trabsonspor (TUR) 3 Metalist Kharkiv (UKR) 1 Thursday
Lokeren (BEL) 1 Legia Warsaw (POL) 0 Thursday



Group C League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Tottenham Hotspur 5 3 2 0 9 3 11 +6
2 Besiktas 5 2 3 0 10 5 9 +5
3 Asteras Tripolis 5 1 2 2 8 10 5 -2
4 Partizan Belgrade 5 0 1 4 2 11 1 -9


Position before match :  2nd
Position after match :  1st


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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