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Shalhtar Donetsk v Spurs, 19.02.09

UEFA CUP ROUND OF 32 (1st Leg)

Seleznov, 78
Jadson, 88

Attendance: - 25,000

Referee: - Mr. T. Einwaller (Austria)

Shakhtar (4-3-2-1):- Pyatov; Srna (Capt.), Ischenko, Chygrinsiy, Rat; Fernandinho, Jadson, Lewandowski; Ilsinho (sub Luis Adriano, 68), Willian; Gladkyy (sub Seleznov, 77)

Subs not used: - Khudzamov; Fedetskiy, Shevchuk, Duljaj, Chyzhov

Booked: - Rat

Spurs (4-5-1); Gomes; Gunter, Dawson, Huddlestone, Chimbonda; Bentley, Zokora, Jenas (Capt.), Parrett (sub Bostock, 88), Giovani (sub Bent, 68); Campbell

Subs not used: - Jansson; Gilberto, A. Smith; Mason; Obika

No Bookings

Late surrender by weak side

There were some 200 Spurs fans who did make a determined effort to reach south-east Ukraine in freezing cold conditions who no doubt hoped for a reward for their efforts from the team they love. In fairness, Harry Redknapp had clearly telegraphed several weeks ago his feelings towards the UEFA cup whilst Spurs faced a relegation battle. Hence he fielded a much weakened side in the hope of holding out for a draw to give the team hope in the second leg next week. Spurs were over-run for much of the first half, but made a better fist of the second. However, late lapses in concentration and ability led to the home side seizing a two goal advantage that looks to be unassailable for Spurs. I was one of those who made the decision not to travel, thus missing my first game of the season, and these comments are based upon Channel Five’s coverage.

Seventeen year old Dean Parrett made his debut for the club, in a five man midfield where Zokora was the most defensive; Bentley and Giovani were to be the twin prongs on the flanks; and Parrett and Jenas were to patrol up and down the channels. Parrett can be more than satisfied with his performance against a side which was the best third placed Champions League side, and which did play with verve and determination to qualify for the next round of this tournament. It was a side that included 4 exciting Brazilians who ran at and threatened Spurs constantly. Michael Dawson was clearly Spurs best player, often coming to the rescue of his fellow defenders which included Pascal Chimbonda at left back wearing number 97. (One assumes that Cesar Sanchez’s number 21 remains reserved in his name under UEFA rules). Chimbonda struggled at times against the pace of Ilsinho, and Huddlestone’s forte is not pace anyway.

Frazier Campbell was preferred to Darren Bent and was full of intelligent running, but Spurs struggled to gain and retain possession in that first half, where the experienced players such as Jenas, Zokora and Bentley failed to assert themselves sufficiently.

There was a little bright play from Spurs though, and Parrett was linking with both Bentley and Giovani at times. Campbell sometimes struggled to keep his feet upon the coarse pitch, which meant that all the pace was taken out of the ball, making smooth play difficult. For Shakhtar, Jadson got the first opening, with a snatched shot hooked wide across Gomes’ goal. Jenas conceded a free kick after some desperate defending by Spurs, and the kick – taken by skipper Srna – was blocked by the Spurs wall. Srna is a compatriot of our own Luka Modric, but he was one of those left in England. Srna was often the dead ball man for the home side, and caused more panic in the Spurs defence with a free kick on the quarter hour.

Parrett found Giovani on the left with a good ball, and Giovani’s cross was cleared by a defensive header which led to a wave of Brazilian runners into the Spurs half. Michael Dawson rescued tom Huddlestone as he was beaten on the edge of the box, and Chimbonda was beaten too often down his flank. Shakhtar striker Gladkyy wasted a good chance from a long ball, and skewed his effort across the area. Gladkyy then received a good ball from Ilsinho, before a Srna cross into the 6 yard box had to be cleared.

Another Parrett – Giovani combination led to the little Mexican hitting the side netting with his cross/shot. Spurs got a free kick about 25 yards out, but sadly Bentley loomed large over the ball. Rat was booked for coming out too quickly, but Bentley hit this one straight at the keeper, before hitting his second effort into the wall. Gomes comfortably held a shot by Willian after 42 minutes. Willian was best placed to take advantage just after the break when the ball rebounded to his feet, but his effort past the back post was put out for a corner by Chimbonda.

Zokora started to impose himself, winning and carrying the ball successfully into the opposition half. Jenas had a good chance after 50 minutes, chasing a long ball towards goal. Pyatov came out of his area and did enough to put Jenas off his stroke, which meant his half-hit effort was easily cleared by Chygrinsiy.

Dawson was harshly called for an alleged foul and Srna’s free kick took a touch to go out for a corner. From this corner, Gomes could only punch weakly, but the ball was cleared when it came back into the area. Dawson was alert again to take the ball off Ilsinho’s feet on the edge of the 6 yard area. Darren Bent replaced Giovani and took over the main front running role, with Campbell moving to the right and Bentley switching to the left. It was young Parrett though who showed the most determination to chase down a long ball, come away with a rebound and try a shot from a sharp angle, which the keeper smothered at his feet. Parrett and Bent led a good break for Spurs after 76 minutes, and whilst they were ultimately blocked, at this stage you were fancying their chances of holding out for a draw.

However, Zokora conceded the next in a line of dangerous free kick situations, and Seleznov was brought on for Gladkyy Seleznov scored with his first touch, as he (and others) was allowed to ghost in and head home Jadson’s delicate chipped kick. Gomes came for the ball but failed to collect and then seemed to make a meal of a resulting injury. He stayed on the pitch, but could not be held to blame for Shakhtar’s second goal which was a fine solo effort by Jadson, taking a wall pass as he crossed the Spurs area from right to left. Gunter over-committed for a challenge and failed, leaving Jadson to beat Gomes with a left foot shot.

Bostock replaced Parrett for the last few minutes, but Spurs failed to close the gap, and I suspect are hardly likely to field a significantly stronger side next Thursday with Hull and the Carling Cup Final on either side of the fixture.

Personally, I cannot get too upset by this result, and the likelihood of a lack of progress in Europe. I personally crave some mid-table mediocrity at this time, and the fact is that Harry’s side did nearly hold out for what would have been a great result.

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