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Spurs v Sevilla, 12.04.07

UEFA CUP QUARTER-FINAL (2ND LEG)
THURSDAY 12TH APRIL, 2007
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) SEVILLA 2 (2)
Sevilla win 4-3 on aggregate

Spurs scorers:-
Defoe, 65
Lennon, 67

Seville scorers:-
Malbranque (o.g.), 3
Kanoute, 8

Referee: - Konrad Plautz (Austria)

Attendance: - 35,284

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Tainio, Dawson, King (Capt.), Chimbonda; Lennon, Jenas, Zokora (sub Defoe, 64), Malbranque; Berbatov, Keane

Subs not used: - Cerny; Ifil; Ghaly, Murphy, Taarabt; Barnard

Booked: - Dawson, Malbranque, Defoe

Sent off (90 – dangerous play), Tainio

Sevilla (4-4-2):- Cobeno; Hinkel, Navarro (Capt.), Escude, Puerta; Alves (sub Renato, 54) Poulsen, Marti, Adriano (sub Ocio, 69); Kerzhakov (sub Maresca, 81), Kanoute

Subs not used: - Varas; Castedo, Navas; Fabiano

No bookings

Spurs dreams of European glory were dashed after only 7 minutes at White Hart lane tonight. Such was the state of shock of the team and the crowd, that neither really got going till the second half, when to their credit, the crowd did their utmost to lift the team, and the team played far better, giving hope all around with two quick goals mid-way through the second half. The mountain they had given themselves to climb was too much though against a team that displayed pedigree, particularly in the first 45 minutes.

Whilst we welcomed back skipper Ledley King to the fray for his first appearance of 2007, it wasn’t long before we wondered if he was fit enough, as he did not seem to get into the pace of the game until a much improved second half. We also queried Martin Jol’s decision to play not just one, but two players out of position in the back four. Teemu Tainio did not play on the left, as had been telegraphed, but played in Chimbonda’s spot, whilst Pascal carried on where he had left off (not too effectively) at Stamford Bridge last Saturday. What with Steed Malbranque playing well below par tonight, it was no surprise to hear that some people left for home at half time.

Martin Jol had another surprise up his sleeve for us in the second half, when Didier Zokora was replaced by Defoe. It was right to bring on Defoe, who scored with his first touch, but Zokora had at least been making a few runs into dangerous areas, whereas some of his colleagues looked ineffective on the night.

The first dent to Spurs confidence came after just two minutes from a corner in the North-east section of the ground. When the cross was headed towards goal, Steed Malbranque’s attempted clearance simply diverted the ball across Robinson into the net, despite desperate attempts to prevent the bulge of the net. This early gift to Sevilla was not what we needed. Five minutes later, former Spur Fredi Kanoute aggravated the pain when he was allowed to enter the area from the right far too easily, had a gentle one-two with Kerzhakov, then simply passed the ball into the net.

Spurs did have a half chance when Berbatov fed Keane, who took the ball almost to the bye-line, then chipped into the area, where the keeper picked up. Spurs troubles were not yet over as firstly Daniel Alves crossed for Kanoute, who headed wide, then Kanoute teed up Adriano, who fired across the goal, but also wide. Alves had already received the ire of the home crowd for making a meal of an injury, and referee Konrad Plautz was no more of a friend than Mr Hamer last week.

After 29 minutes, Alves had made headway down the middle, and passed to Adriano on the left who got inside the struggling Tainio. Adriano passed inside to Kanoute, who thankfully shot straight at Paul Robinson. Now the referee started flaunting his yellow cards, as Michael Dawson got in the book for a foul beyond the half way line, and then Malbranque also saw yellow, when it looked as if the referee was waving at Ledley too.

Towards the interval, Spurs got a couple of chances. Firstly Chimbonda sent Zokora away, and the ball was fed to Berbatov, whose shot across the keeper got a slight touch for a corner. A minute before half time, Chimbonda’s high ball was punched clear by reserve keeper Cobeno, and Berbatov hit a low shot from the edge of the box, that ricocheted of the outside of the post. A goal at this stage would have been a blessing of course, but the home fans knew that we need 4 goals in the second half, because of Sevilla’s already superior away goals.

Zokora got into the area with another run and seemed to be well and truly taken out, and floored. The referee was having none of the appeal, deeming I suppose that Zokora had already lost the ball, as if that mattered. Lennon had played on the right (without much service) in the first half, and became more effective in the second half on the left flank. After 56 minutes, Aaron made an exciting run from left to right, and this move ended with the ball being passed back to the advancing Zokora who drew sighs with a weak shot to the goalkeeper. Zokora didn’t deserve to be the one to make way for Jermain Defoe, but the substitution did work, with a goal for Defoe from his first touch. The goal followed a free kick taken just inside the Sevilla half, a touch from Keane and a deft finish from Defoe.

There were no celebrations of note of this first goal, but more excitement two minutes later, when Berbatov’s high ball reached Lennon and Aaron was able to strike the ball past Cobeno’s left hand.

Now Puerta got forward more and more for the visitors, and created several problems for the Spurs defence. Puerta won a corner with one shot that Robbo must have touched wide, and was generally a difficult opponent for Tainio. In the last ten minutes, Spurs did create a few chances, and really should have at least got a third goal to make the ending a potential classic. Malbranque worked the ball in the middle to the feet of Berbatov, whose shot was deflected for a corner, at which time, Spurs had another failed penalty appeal – this one for a handball.

Robinson had another save to make from Puerta, before Defoe teed up Berbatov. Sadly our star striker hit a tame shot at the keeper. And that was about it. Spurs huffed and puffed, Sevilla used all the (allowed) tricks in the book to run down the clock, and their contingent of 1200 exuberant fans bounced up and down in the away section. Tainio got a straight red in added time for a dangerous tackle on Puerta.

The hope and anticipation of an exciting night was stolen from us in those opening minutes. Sadly, despite the second half fight-back, real hope never returned, and our focus for the rest of the season is on ensuring we are back in Europe next season. The trouble is, even that will be difficult without a return or two from injury.

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