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Anorthosis Famagusta v Spurs, 04.10.07

(Spurs win on aggregate 7-2)

Anorthosis Scorer:-
Fabinho, 54

Spurs scorer:-
Keane, 78

Attendance: - 8,000

Referee: - Mr. Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic)

Anorthosis Famagusta (4-1-4-1):- Nagy; Tripotseris, Constantinou, Nicolaou (Capt.), Ndikumana; Panagi; Fabinho (sub Pahars, 61), Zlogar (sub Skopelitis, 46), Laban (sub Deyanov, 82), Boaventura; Frousos

Subs not used: - Beqaj; Katsavakis, Belic, Sosin

No bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson (Capt.); Stalteri, Dawson, Gardner, Lee (sub Keane, 74); Malbranque, Huddlestone, Zokora, Boateng (sub Bale, 68); Bent (sub Taarabt, 84), Defoe

Subs not used: - Cerny; Kaboul, Mills; Dawkins

Booked: - Robinson (Dissent)

Jol gets his subs right!

With a comfortable five goal cushion from the first leg, Martin Jol was able to field a weakened side, leaving Jenas, Berbatov, Chimbonda and Lennon at home, and holding back Kaboul, Bale and Robbie Keane on the bench. As a result, the Spurs performance was rarely convincing, and Jol had to rely upon two of his substitutes (Bale and Keane) to conjure up an equaliser in the 78th minute, after Fabihno had taken advantage of Frousos’s blatant and un-punished handball to give the home side the lead early in the second half.

Rather than playing Radek Cerny (who played in the first leg), Martin Jol chose to give Paul Robinson the chance to rebuild his confidence after his nightmares on Monday night against Aston Villa. To be honest, I saw nothing tonight to make me feel any more confident in Robinson as a result. Anorthosis had several pops at goal, and two of those passed close to the post without Robinson seeming too much aware of their whereabouts.

Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent had the chance to convince their manager that they should be given a chance this Sunday at Anfield. In the first half they looked quite lively, with Bent not getting the benefit of the assistant referee’s flag, and Defoe either missing the target or hitting the goalkeeper throughout the game. Kevin-Prince Boateng made his Spurs debut, but was asked to play the “Tainio role” on the right flank, which is not his natural position. Boateng got a few crosses in, one of which was into the danger zone, but on the whole did not impress enough to warrant a further appearance just yet. Adel Taarabt, who got six minutes at the end of the game provided more excitement, and might have been a better choice to start.

Clearly Spurs were in Cyprus to hold on to their advantage, not suffer any injuries that would hamper their Premier League recovery, and were not intending to over-commit players forward. As a result the early part of the game was somewhat tentative, but Spurs were hogging the chances. Boateng did get a 4th minute cross in that earnt a corner, taken by Huddlestone and headed over by Anthony Gardner – possibly impeded by the defender. Bent rolled a pass to Defoe after 6 minutes, and Jermain fired this one over the bar. A minute later we saw that the home side fancied their chances as they were always ready to put men forward in support of Frousos. Right back Ndikumana (who did not play in the first leg) got round Boateng, passed to Laban, whose shot went just wide, with Robinson unsighted and not reacting.

After 17 minutes, Huddlestone got the ball to Bent at the second attempt. Bent might have shot, but chose to pass inside from his position on the left of the box. The ball was cleared without reaching Defoe. Defoe received a good ball from Zokora, but fired over again, this time from the edge of the box. After 34 minutes, Spurs took time to build their attack, enjoying good possession. Malbranque found Defoe just 8 yards out, but the shot went into the hands of Nagy.

At times the home side kept giving the ball back to Spurs, whose passing was not always at its best, but Huddlestone found Stalteri on the right in space, and his cross went to Malbranque at the back post, who tried a spectacular over head kick that went wide. Malbranque then set up Defoe just before the half-time whistle, but this time Defoe’s shot which was always going just wide, hit the outside of the post.

Huddlestone fed Defoe just after the break, and this time, Defoe tried and failed to pass to Bent, who by now was being controlled by the home centre-backs. Boaventura hit a rising shot over the bar, before he crossed high from the left, and with Gardner and Dawson failing to claim the ball, Frousos virtually caught the ball with his hands to his chest, fed the ball back to Fabinho, who shot past the despairing Robinson. Dawson, Gardner and their keeper had been slightly too busy with hands aloft claiming the handball, rather than concentrating on the play. Robinson got booked by the Czech referee for his protests.

Malbranque had a shot blocked inside the box, after a clever little run, and after 67 minutes, Huddlestone sent a great ball to Boateng who crossed for Defoe, whose shot went wide from 20 yards. Bale replaced Boateng, taking up a position in front of Lee, with Malbranque shifting to the right. Dawson nearly rued a poor clearance which Laban hit just outside the post with his left foot. Now Robbie Keane replaced Lee, and Bale fell back, but that didn’t stop the star signing from making a great run to the line, cutting the ball back which was dummied by Bent and hit high into the net by Keane for his fourth goal in five games.

Defoe and Taarabt had further efforts on goal, but most of the run-in was about Spurs defending quite deeply to save face, preserve their five goal lead, and at least finish with a degree of satisfaction.

Sunday’s game at Anfield will demand more pace, and much more effective application to duty!

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