Thursday, September 15, 2011

Europa League PAOK Salonika 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Tottenham's  Young Team Earn a Point

Spurs managed to gain a point in their first Europa League Group game against PAOK Salonika in Greece.  Numerous injuries and an important Premier League game against Liverpool on Sunday meant Harry Redknapp used a number of young players for this game.

Team: Cudicini; Walker, Corluka, Bassong, Townsend; Falque (Fredericks), Livermore, Carroll, Giovani (Parrett), Kane; PavlycchenkoSubs: Gomes, Nicholson, Stewart, Barthram, Prichard

Tottenham's young players aided by a number of senior players acquitted themselves very well in the intimidating atmosphere in Greece.  They played with confidence and effort against a team with considerable European experience and thoroughly deserved their point.  It was only in the last ten minutes that they started to come under pressure from the home side and Carlo Cudicini came to their rescue with three magnificent saves.

Only Kyle Walker played from the team which won at Wolves on Saturday while Tottenham had international experience from Vedran Corluka, Sebastien Bassong, Giovani Dos Santos and Roman Pavlyuchenko to support the young players.  Yago Falque, on loan from Juventus, made his debut for Spurs while the other young players had experienced European football against Hearts in the Qualifying Round.

Tottenham started well and passed the ball about with some style and composure.  The home team gave then room to play and Spurs made the most of it.  Their best moment came when Dos Santos had a shot cleared off the line but shortly after this they were denied a clear penalty for a trip on Harry Kane who was incorrectly booked for diving.  Almost immediately PAOK were awarded a penalty when Cudicini rushed out  and dived at the incoming forward's feet and tripped him.  Lino scored from the penalty high into the net but as he celebrated the referee ordered a retake as a home player had encroached into the penalty area.  This time he tried to deceive Cudicini by putting it low to his left but hit the ball wide.  Justice was done, even if two wrongs don't make a right.

Harry Kane had a header from a Falque cross saved easily by the goalkeeper.  Tottenham were dealing well with any home pressure and causing some problems as they moved forward.

The second half was similar to the first with Spurs quite comfortable although as the younger players tired the passing of the team wasn't so accurate.  In the final fifteen minutes the home team increased the pressure but Cudicini was up to the task and made three good saves - a double save followed by a vital save in added time.

All of the young players played well, they worked hard and will have gained valuable experience.  Harry Kane did well in the first half but having been moved wide after half-time was less effective although he worked very hard.  Falque had good control but needs to get that final pass in as does Townsend who often lost the ball by running into a dead end.  Carroll was composed on the ball but tired late on and Jake Livermore worked very hard in midfield.  Dos Santos had little opportunity to show the skills he displays when with Mexico but the experienced players worked to support the youngsters.

Harry Redknapp's insistence on playing a young team in this Europa League group game brought its due reward so let's hope that the rested senior players can earn three points at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Tottenham's next Europa League game is at home to Shamrock Rovers on Thursday, 29th September.  Rovers lost their opening game to Rubin Kazan by three goals to nil in Dublin.


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