Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Rubin Kazan 0 Europa League

Tottenham had Roman Pavlyuchenko to thank for the goal which was enough to earn the three points to take them to the top of Group A in the Europa League.  With seven points they are clear of PAOK who have five with Rubin on four.  Spurs' next match is in Russia and they know that it will be a difficult task to take anything from that encounter.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Rubin Kazan 0
                                            Scorer: Pavlyuchenko

Team: Gomes; Walker, Livermore, Bassong, Rose; Lennon (Modric), Sandro (Kaboul), Carroll, Giovani Dos Santos (Assou-Ekotto); Defoe, Pavlyuchenko.  Subs (unused): Cudicini, Kane,Townsend

SuperPav Super Strike Wins it For Tottenham
Roman Pavlyuchenko
Roman Pavlyuchenko shook off his lethargy to fire an unstoppable free-kick high into the Rubin Kazan net after thirty three minutes to win this Europa League encounter against his fellow countrymen.  From the outset Pavlyuchenko was out to show his prowess, taking the every opportunity to shoot. 

As was to be expected from a team who had Champions League experience and who had defeated Barcelona in Spain two seasons ago, Rubin Kazan came to win the match and were positive throughout, having the majority of the possession and creating opportunities to strike for goal.  The only element that was missing from their game was a coolness in front of goal as Heurelho Gomes was relatively untroubled during the first forty five minutes.

Spurs with only Kyle Walker and Jake Livermore from the starting eleven at Newcastle, had Sebastien  Bassong and Livermore in central defence so depleted is Harry Redknapp for centre backs.  Danny Rose was at left back while Sandro and Tom Carroll were in midfield with Aaron Lennon, returning from injury, and Dos Santos on the wings.  Pavlyuchenko was partnered by Jermain Defoe as strikers.

Tottenham were neat and tidy in possession but didn't really threatened on goal with the two strikers rarely working as partners.  Bassong and Livermore found it difficult to develop any understanding and were grateful for the lack of firepower from the visitors.  Lennon and Dos Santos offered little as they mostly ran themselves into trouble with Rose and Walker being left to do much of the forward running.  Carroll and Sandro worked hard in midfield to contain the quick passing Russian team.

It was from a Rose foray towards the penalty area that Spurs won a free-kick.  Centre of goal, on the edge of the 'D' Roman Pavlyuchenko hammered the ball into the top corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance.  Spurs were ahead but hardly deserving of the advantage which they held comfortably to half-time with Pavlyuchenko having another drive well saved.

In the second half Rubin Kazan increased the pressure and Spurs were reduced to defending to try to stop the flow.  Gomes was coming in to play more often and he dealt with most situations easily with only the occasional anxious moment.  As the half wore, in recognition of the threat being presented by Rubin Kazan, Harry Redknapp opted to strengthen his team to ensure the victory.  He introduced Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto to defence and brought on Luka Modric in central midfield beside Carroll. 

The changes enables Spurs to see out the game to claim their three points.  Gomes has played three games this year without conceding a goal, Carroll played well and is benefiting from these Europa League games,  Rose had a good game at full-back and then moved forward to left midfield and was dangerous on the break late in the game, earning corners for his endeavours.

Mission accomplished for Harry Redknapp and the Tottenham Europa League squad.  After three games they are on target for qualification to the knock-out stages in the new year.


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