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Hapoel Tel-Aviv v Spurs, 08.11.07


Keane, 26
Berbatov, 31

Attendance: - 10,000

Referee: - Mr Grzegorz Gilewski (Poland)
Assistants: - Mr. Rafael Rostkowski (Poland), Mr. Tomasz Smolinski (Poland)
Fourth Official: - Mr. Marek Mikolajewski (Poland)

Hapoel Tel-Aviv (4-4-1-1):- Enyeama; Bakshi (sub Manzor, 46), Dos Santos, Tal Chen, Shish; Natcho, Nsumbu, Abutbul (sub Abedi, 46), Dego (sub Antebi, 57); Badir (Capt.); Fabio Junior

Subs not used: - Ben Shanan; Doani; Oved, Srur

Booked: - Shish, Dos Santos

Sent off: - (Second yellow, 49) Shish

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, Chimbonda, Lee; Lennon, Jenas (sub Boateng, 67), Zokora, Malbranque (sub Defoe, 55); Berbatov, Keane (Capt.) (sub Bent, 67)
(Armband to Robinson)

Subs not used: - Cerny; Kaboul; Huddlestone, Tainio

Booked: - Berbatov, Defoe, Boateng

In a mundane game, and almost at half-pace, Spurs eased their way past this poor opposition, which has lost its last 6 games, and only managed to score in one of those matches. It was a welcome win of course, and has put Spurs back on track to qualify from this mini-league phase with a home game against Alborg to follow on November 29th. Skipper Robbie Keane and “The Incredible Sulk” – Dimitar Berbatov – scored the goals in the first half, and when the home side lost their left back for a second yellow early in the second half, Spurs could have capitalised, but opted to take a steady path.

Juande Ramos played Pascal Chimbonda beside Dawson, as he had at the end of last Wednesday’s Carling Cup tie, with Paul Stalteri doing a competent job at right back tonight. Otherwise the line-up was as expected with Robbie Keane and Berbatov returning to action. Despite scoring, Berbatov’s body language was too often discouraging, and his application was not always good enough to justify his regular carping at team-mates for what he deemed to be poor delivery or movement.

The home side have an important Derby game against Maccabi Tel-Aviv this Sunday, and their 29 year old coach Guy Luzon was the subject of much disharmony from the home fans. His side had the better chances in the opening stages, with Chimbonda’s poor clearance being picked up by Natcho, and fed to Fabio Junior, whose half-hit chipped shot was easily held by Paul Robinson, who had a competent game tonight. After 7 minutes, Nsumbu played a clever ball to Natcho entering the area on the right side, who put his shot a yard outside the post.

Berbatov had Spurs first decent chance after 16 minutes, having started the build up when controlling Robinson’s ball, then receiving a lay-off by Keane. The shot was way off target. Hapoel responded immediately and Robinson had to hold an on-target effort by Natcho – one of the brightest sparks in the home side.

After 19 minutes, Jenas took a free kick awarded for a foul on Zokora. It was a poor free kick, and up to that point, not one of Jenas’s dead balls had caused a problem. His strength during the game was defending from the front though, and he did play some decent passes in the second half.

Spurs started to impose themselves mid-way through the first half, and Robbie Keane fired us into the lead with a well-placed right footed effort, receiving the short cross from Malbranque, to whom Keane had fed the ball in the first place. Five minutes later, Spurs got their second. Keane and Lennon had combined on the right of the area, passing to Berbatov, whose shot was saved by the keeper. The ball ran to Malbranque, who chipped back from the left for Berbatov to casually head home. Berbatov didn’t get over-excited by the goal either, but he did look enthusiastic after 38 minutes, using pace and strength to carry the ball into the area, hitting a shot that goalkeeper Enyeama saved. Keane followed up and wanted handball for the deflection on his shot, but only got a corner from the Polish referee.

There was a bit of a spat between Berbatov and Shish following the award of a free kick in Spurs’ favour, and Dos Santos also saw yellow for shoving Berbatov in the area, before the kick was taken. From a later free kick, taken by Jenas, Chimbonda headed just over the bar.

As the game progressed, Chimbonda looked more comfortable in the middle, but he had taken a while to settle next to Dawson.

Hapoel made two half-time substitutions, one of which was for the 18 year old right back – Bakshi. Barukh Dego worried Robinson with his cross from the left, which the Spurs keeper seemed to touch, but got away with a goal kick. Shish’s second yellow came after 49 minutes, when he fouled Aaron Lennon, and with a left back missing, the home side were surely there for the taking. Hapoel over-compensated for the absence when Spurs played the ball from right to left, and Malbranque was in space and should have done better with his shot across the goal mouth.

Jenas then tried a shot from distance, which passed over the bar, before Malbranque was replaced by Defoe. Lennon switched to the left, and Defoe started on the right, with Berbatov in support of Keane. There was a good move after 65 minutes, featuring Berbatov and Defoe, before Jenas made a good pass inside the area to Keane, who pushed his shot wide of the keeper’s right post. Jenas was then replaced by Boateng, who is clearly going to get plenty of chances from Ramos – who prowled the technical area throughout the game. Bent replaced Keane at the same time, but saw little of the ball.

Boateng and Lennon worked the ball well into the right of the box, and Lennon’s low cross was held by the keeper in a mini-scramble of legs, mostly in red. The home side had been packing their own half until now, but in a show of defiance they did venture out towards the end of the game, leading to a good save by Robinson at close range from Fabio Junior, receiving the ball from the left. Hapoel’s stand-in Captain Badir headed over a cross by Antebi, and Robinson later had to hold Dos Santos’s header from a late corner.

Either side of that chance, Defoe had fed the ball to Zokora of all people, who did hit a decent low shot just outside the post. Bent should have made it three for Spurs in the closing minutes, carrying Defoe’s pass past the keeper, but then half-hitting a shot that ran onto the post and was cleared.

All in all, it will be heralded as a satisfactory result for Spurs, but they surely could and should have taken the home side by the throat and scored more goals. Juande Ramos of course remains unbeaten, and will hope to extend that record on Sunday, when Spurs host Wigan for vital Premier League points.

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