|OPPONENTS||PAOK Salonika (Greece)|
|DATE||Wednesday 30th November 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
With PAOK sneaking to the top of the Group A table following the
last round of matches, Tottenham's first defeat has left them
needing a win to definitely qualify and if it comes against PAOK,
then it will virtually assure Spurs progress to the knock out
stages, with just a visit to Shamrock Rovers to come. PAOK's
last game will be against Rubin Kazan, a tougher game than
Having gained a pint over in Greece with a 0-0 draw thanks to Carlo Cudicini's penalty save and some other good stops, the Italian will be hoping for another clean sheet as the visitors try to take something from the game, knowing a win will also see them through.
With a mixture of Greek players and South Americans, the Salonika side try to take opponents by surprise with fast breaks, but with Tottenham using the same tactics away from home, they should be used to coping with the counter-attacking style. If Spurs field Bassong and Gallas at the back, with Sandro, Livermore, Pienaar and Townsend or Falque in midfield, with Defoe and Kane up front, there are enough players there who could get the result Spurs need. Without a number of players out injured and rested, the team might make unfamiliar reading, but with a focussed approach and some hard work, they should be able to match the Greek's first XI and finish with the points, but they will need to be clinical with their efforts on goal.
It will be a difficult task for the team, but after narrowly beating Rubin at home, I am confident that they will be able to repeat the outcome in terms of points.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 PAOK Salonika (Greece) 0|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Roman Pavlyuchenko (knee) and Giovani dos Santos (groin) are both doubts for the game, while Michael Dawson (Achilles), Danny Rose (ankle), Niko Kranjcar (thigh) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) are all long term injuries who are not available. With players being rested, there will be opportunities for young players to be given appearances.
|PAOK SALONIKA TEAM NEWS :|
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
1 (1) PAOK Salonika (Greece) 2 (2)
Wednesday 30th November 2011 Kick off 20:05
White Hart Lane
|Modric (p) 39||
Athanasiadis (kicking ball away)
|Crowd : 26,229||Weather : Mild, dry|
|Referee : Hendrikus Nijhuis (Holland)||Assistant Referees : A. Boonman; R. van der Ven (Holland)|
|Fourth Official : J. Sanders (Holland)||Additional Assistants : P. Janssen; R. Wiedermeijer (Holland)|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||PAOK Salonika (Greece) :||kit|
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : - Laszlo Boloni|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : -|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Puma|
Rarely can Tottenham have made a worse start in a European home tie, going 0-2 down in 13 minutes to PAOK Salonika and leaving their Europa League campaign all but at an end. The fact that they battled back to get a goal before half time and then struggle against ten men for 50 minutes did not help matters, but the side were much changed form the one that is doing so well in the Premier League this season.
They should still have been able to match the Greek side, but with a passionate (and unsightly and undressed) support behind them and with Tottenham's returning senior players looking less than in touch with match fitness, they exploited that with some good passing and movement. PAOK were well worth their lead against A Spurs side that saw Harry bring in Defoe, Modric and Lennon to bolster the ranks of the fringe players and some youngsters. It was a team that looked as if they didn't play together regularly, as that was what they were.
The first goal came after six minutes and when Gallas brought the ball up to the halfway line, he put a heavy touch on the ball and over-ran it, leaving a midfielder to pick it off him, send Georgiadis away on the left and his cross found Salpingidis unmarked by Galls or Bassong. He didn't even have to jump and headed down past Gomes, who had no chance ... meaning it was the first goal Heurelho had let in this season.
In the 13th minute it was 2-0. Georgiadis played a pass inside Corluka, who was unaware where his man was, but he slipped in behind him and played a square ball across the box into the path of Athanasiadis, who had the simple task of sliding into knock the ball in ... again with Gomes having no chance to save.
With a two goal cushion and Spurs all over the place, PAOK passed the ball confidently and Tottenham were reduced to throwing themselves in the way of shots form the edge of the box, as the Greek team made chances with ease. In contrast, Spurs' first opportunity came in the 32nd minute when Harry Kane stuck out a leg to divert a wild shot from Pienaar that flew across the box. The young striker reacted instinctively, but his effort went a good few feet wide. The Kane set up Defoe to fire a shot at goal from outside the box, which Chalkias did well to slap around the post with a diving stop.
From the corner Corluka tried to make up for his part in the second goal with a header that was bundled off the line, but back into the middle of the goal, where Kane volleyed on target but hit the man on the line. One of the assistants behind the goal indicated to the ref that there had been an infringement and a penalty was given for handball, so a red card was pulled out for left back Stafylidis. After an amount of gamesmanship from Croatian Brazilian Etto, trying to put Modric off, the little midfielder stepped up to calmly send the keeper to the right, while his shot nestle din the bottom left corner of the goal.
Reduced to ten men, you fancied Spurs would press hard for the equaliser and then go on for a winner, but with a left back missing, the obvious move to shift Lennon to that side of the pitch did not come and Tottenham laboured without forcing too many saves from the Greek keeper. A minute after the break, Modric's free kick was knocked in by Gallas, but he was just offside and then five minutes in, Rose's left wing cross to the far post was met by Kane's head, but the striker could only head it over the bar, with Defoe looking for the nod back across goal. Another five minutes and another chance, with Corluka's pull back shot wide by Pienaar from inside the area, which was followed by a similar result from Livermore from 25 yards out.
Bringing on Bale and Walker, Harry was going for it, but neither saw the ball in enough attacking positions, leaving the PAOK defence the relatively simple task of hacking away anything that came into the box. When Walker did get free on the right, he put a low cross in that missed Kane in the middle, but found Gareth on the far post, but he hit his shot high over the top.
When Spurs eventually got the ball in the back of the net with 15 minutes left, it looked like game on at last, but following a confusing period with no clear decision from the referee, the goal was ruled out, although nobody was quite sure why to start off with. The linesman had not flagged for offside, when Defoe had toe-poked the ball past the goalie. But in the build up, Livermore's shot from 12 yards out was kicked off the line, but when the ball was played back in, Defoe stretched out to divert it past Chalkias, only for a free-kick to be awarded to PAOK for the stricken defender on the line, who had apparently been fouled by Jermain as he tried to knock the original block into the net.
Towards the end there was a looping header from Defoe that the keeper took no chances with and pushed over, only for the corner to be headed over by Bale and then the Welshman had a chance with a 25 yard free-kick in added time, but with Walker getting an elbow in the ribs as he went on the end of the wall, all hell broke loose and by the time Gareth stepped up to shoot, he could only dip it over the wall, but straight at the keeper.
And then that was it. The final whistle brought down the curtain on our fifth ever home European defeat as PAOK joined Real Madrid twice, PSV Eindhoven and Getafe in winning at the Lane. With PAOK on 11 points and Rubin on 10 with Spurs back on 7, a draw between the two sides will conveniently see them through to the knock out stages ... even if we win against Shamrock Rovers.
While this was a poor result, from a poor start, other points have been dropped elsewhere in this campaign and while it may not have a dramatic effect on the team's season, it would have been good to keep the fringe players fit with competitive match practice and the revenue would have come in handy. But PAOK were good value for their win and Spurs must hope that other opponents don't study the video of this match too much, as failing to break down a packed defence with only ten men on the visitors' side meant that we might need more attacking options. However, a return to a more settled first XI might solve that problem.
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|What you thought|
|Sid E. Netting||3rd in the
Premier League = Good
3rd in the Europa League = Bad
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
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