|OPPONENTS||Shamrock Rovers (Republic of Ireland)|
|DATE||Thursday 29th September 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
|Apologies for no preview, but hard drive failure left no time for preparation for the match.|
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Shamrock Rovers 0|
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3 (0) Shamrock Rovers 1 (0)
Thursday 29th September 2011 Kick off 20:05
White Hart Lane
|Crowd : 33,500||Weather : - Very warm, dry|
|Referee : Gediminas Mezieka (Lithuania)||Assistant Referees : Vytautas Simkus, Saulius Dirda (both Lithuania)|
|Fourth Official : Audrius Kancleris (Lithuania)||Additional assistants : Nerijus Dunauskas, Sergejus Slyva (both Lithuania)|
|Shamrock Rovers kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Shamrock Rovers :||kit|
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : - Michael O'Neill|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : - Woodie's DIY|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : - Umbro|
While this ended up to not to be too much of a struggle, the result was almost a shocking one at one stage when Shamrock Rovers took the lead five minutes into the second half, before Spurs regained their composure and hit three goals in six minutes.
A first half of chances were not converted by Tottenham, leaving them chasing the game when Stephen Rice deflected a shot from Gary Twigg past Carlo Cudicini. It was a goal that spurred them into action and two quick goals, followed by another from Giovani a few minutes later earned Spurs the win that keeps them joint top of the group with Rubin Kazan.
There were chances to score galore in the first half, but a mixture of good defending, good goalkeeping and a certain amount of assistance from the woodwork kept Tottenham out. Passing the ball crisply and making the most of the space available with Rovers getting men back behind the ball, Spurs created enough openings to have won the game inside the first 45 minutes, but the Irish side held firm and stuck to their defensive plan.
Inside the first couple of minutes, Jake Livermore passed to Giovani dos Santos and the Mexican had a low shot gathered by Brush in the Shamrock goal, with the same player testing the keeper again with a 30 yard effort that brought a dive to keep the ball out in the 10th minute. Spurs were spreading the play across the pitch 30 yards from goal and when Walker stood up a cross to the far post, Roman Pavlyuchenko choose to try and head back for Defoe rather than go for goal himself, only to see the ball cut out before it reached his striking partner.
With 16 minutes gone, Giovani played in Jermain Defoe and he moved forward to around the penalty spot, where he shot, but Brush had advanced from his line and got a touch on the ball that took it up and against the crossbar, before the ball rebounded out. The keeper was quickly out to meet Pav and block his shot five minutes later, while on 25 minutes, the Russian got to Gio's corner at the near post to head at goal, but Finn got in the way. Shortly after, McCabe tried a curling shot from outside the box, but it went harmlessly wide.
Giovani was having a decent game and picked up a cross that had gone too high for Pav and cutting in from the far post rifled an effort over the bar from a tight angle, while his team-mates might have appreciated a pull-back across goal more. When a corner was cleared out of the Rovers goalmouth in the 33rd moinute, Spurs went close to taking the lead. Danny Rose was on the edge of the 'D' and curled a lopping shot that went over Brush and came back off the bar, but the loose ball was seized on by captain Sebastien Bassong, who hit a shot at goal from just inside the box. His opposing number in the Shamrock side, Murray, got in the way of the pile-driver with his face and was pole-axed, but he stopped the ball getting as far as the goal.
With eight minutes to go to the break, Pav had a shot deflected wide and then got on the end of Gio's corner and from the penalty spot, his header hit the man on the goal-line and the ball was cleared. Roman went close a minute later with a shot that went narrowly wide and while Spurs moved the ball around to make shooting chances before the half-time whistle, they failed to get shots in on goal.
So, the half-time break came with the woodwork hit twice and one kicked away from the line and the keeper doing well. Surely, Tottenham would ease through the second half without having to call on some of the players who were being given a break on the bench ?
Nothing is as simple with Tottenham, is it ?
With the disappointing Lennon making way for Andros Townsend and Shamrock making two half-time changes, the game seemed to be progressing in the same manner as the first half, but then a cheap[ free-kick given against Livermore for a foul on the periphery of the box gave Shamrock Rovers a good position to utilise the ball from a set-piece. Shaping up for a shot McCabe bent the ball around the wall and Cudicini should have made a routine save, but palmed it straight out in front of him to the edge of the box. Gary Twigg fired the ball back in and while Cudicini looked to have the effort covered, he was beaten when Stephen Rice touched the ball the opposite way to the Italian's dive and Shamrock's vocal support went into dreamland. The Irish contingent, who had been singing non-stop, were jumping with glee.
However, on the restart, normal service was resumed as Spurs cut through the midfield and Townsend twice and Pav once got away on the left to put the ball into the middle for nobody in particular. in the 62nd minute, Townsend got away from his marker and stood up a cross to the middle of the goal, which Pavlyuchenko met with a powerful header from eight yards out that thudded past the keeper to make it 1-1. And then within 90 seconds, a repeat performance by Andros lead to a low ball being headed in by Jermain Defoe, who deserved a goal on his performance tonight, which gave Spurs the lead in a rapid turnaround of fortunes. JD had thrown himself at the ball and put pace on the ball with a downward header that made it difficult for the goalie to get to.
Now with a lead under their belts, Spurs looked a more ruthless outfit, as Rovers had seen their moment of glory snatched away in the blink of an eye. With pace and an energy missing in the Irish legs, Spurs started to push on relentlessly. This was typified by Jermain Defoe, who won a tackle on the touchline in front of the West Stand, 10 yards inside his own half and then ran the length of the field to the edge of the Shamrock Rovers box, before slipping the ball right for Giovani dos Santos to thunder a left foot shot past Brush after he had taken a quick touch.
3-1 makes it look comfortable and by this time it was, but the away goal had rocked Tottenham into action, with some clinical finishing being the difference. The teams exchanged long shots before Brush had to be alert to tip over a cross-cum-shot from Danny Rose that might have crept in just inside the angle, then Pav almost got on the end of a Townsend cross and then put a shot close to the right hand post. In between Dennehy and Townsend both cut in from the flank to hit shots that went over the top by inches, with an injury time shot by the young winger causing Brush consternation, as the ball slipped from his grasp, but Pavlyuchenko was too far behind it to finish it off. And at the death a tumble in the box brought cries for a consolation penalty for the Irish, but Townsend had not fouled Dennehy according to the ref and the final whistle saw the shirts obtained and waved at the visiting fans, while Spurs left with the relief of a job accomplished, albeit not in the manner they thought it might have come.
The Irish team gave their all, but their legs gave out a little in the second half and even the introduction of Rohan Ricketts as a substitute could not lift them, despite a good receptions from the Tottenham fans. Better than the Hearts game, this puts Spurs in a strong position to both qualify from the group and also to carry on playing the youngsters, with a semi-first team no doubt lined up to face Rubin Kazan in the next group game at home in October.
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|Standard Liege (BEL)||3||FC Copenhagen (DEN)||0||Thursday|
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