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Spurs v Shakhtar Donetsk, 26.02.09


Spurs scorer:-
Giovani, 55

Shakhtar scorer:-
Fernandinho, 86

Referee: - Mr. P. Tagliavento (Italy)

Attendance: - 30,595

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Gunter, Chimbonda, Huddlestone (Capt.), Gilberto (sub Bostock, 76); Giovani, Palacios, O’Hara (sub Parrett, 70), Bale; Obika, Campbell

Subs not used: - Jansson; Smith, Butcher; Mason, Townsend

Booked: - O’Hara, Palacios

Shakhtar (4-2-3-1):- Pyatov; Srna (Capt.), Ishchenko, Chygrynskyy, Rat; Fernandinho, Lewandowski; Ilsinho (sub Gai, 79), Jadson, Willian (sub Hubschman, 46); Gladkyy (sub Moreno, 60)

Subs not used: - Khudzhahmov; Duljaj, Kucher; Seleznov

Booked: - Lewandowski, Hubschman

Hope and Pride

Those that had the honour of representing Spurs in Europe last night took their opportunity with gusto and purpose. They played with pride and not a little skill, which was sufficient to not only stay level with a former Champions League side, but to take a 55th minute lead and actually give the 30,000 crowd genuine hope that just maybe there was a result to be had last night. It was not to be though, as Shakhtar snatched an 86th minute equaliser that secured their two goal aggregate advantage and their passage to the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. A different Spurs team will just have to win the Carling Cup on Sunday!

Only Gomes can be sure of his place in Sunday’s line-up, whilst Jamie O’Hara made his return from hip injury just in time to play himself into the reckoning for at least a place on the bench. Tom Huddlestone became the sixth player to Captain Spurs this season, and led his team with skilful passing and determined defending at centre back. 18 year old Jonathan Obika made his full debut for the club and will be disappointed not to have scored a debut goal too! Obika had several very good chances and tested Pyatov in the Ukrainians’ goal more than once. Obika was not over-shadowed, and linked up effectively with the energetic Campbell who gave his all to the Tottenham cause, knowing he will have to be a spectator on Sunday as we play his home club.

If anything it was the old heads that were at times a little under par for Spurs. Palacios did not dominate the midfield as we had hoped he might, and did not have the success rate we have seen in his few games for the club so far. Chimbonda gave all in an unfamiliar position but there were occasional lapses of concentration.

That said, the team deserves credit for more than holding their own against a strong Shakhtar team, who gave the Spurs midfield plenty to worry about throughout, with Fernandinho and Lewandowski probing from behind the front runners of Ilsinho, Jadson and Willian, acting as a dangerous supply line to Gladkyy. Jadson, who had scored last week’s second goal, threatened with an early shot, after the ball ran for the visitors when the Italian referee got in the way of an attempted clearance by Gunter. Immediately, Jamie O’Hara responded with a good 25 yarder that was held by Pyatov in the Shakhtar goal. Gomes only parried a cross that came from the right and the ball ran to Willian, who took too much time and allowed the Spurs defence to clear. Fraizer Campbell had a half-chance at the other end but had been adjudged offside.

After 16 minutes, Lewandowski got the first booking of the game for a late challenge on Giovani, as he raced down the Spurs right flank. However, it was the visitors who continued attacking, with Gomes doing well to dive to his right and save Fernandinho’s shot. The momentum carried Gomes over the line to concede a corner. Gladkyy had s shot go wide from the left side of the Spurs box after 23 minutes. Then Fernandinho’s glanced header was cleared by Campbell guarding the near post, before Fernandinho tried the same trick from the corner, hitting his header wide across the goalmouth this time. At this stage, you had to think that the inexperienced Spurs side would succumb under the relative onslaught.

The home crowd of over 30,000 got behind the team, and Spurs had a decent penalty claim after Campbell seemed to be brought down in the area after Obika had put in a good ball through the middle. Palacios fed Obika for a wonderful chance from the left of the area. Obika hit a left footed shot that troubled the keeper, but curled wide. Campbell seemed to have his legs taken from him again, as Palacios threaded a ball through, but the referee waved away penalty appeals by team and crowd. At the other end Razvan Rat got forward and drilled a low shot that Gomes saved for a corner.

After 38 minutes, Obika had his second excellent chance and effort. This time he hit a right foot shot that should have hit the target, after O’Hara’s ball, but the shot went outside the keeper’s right post. Huddlestone hit a wonderful long ball from deep in his own half on the right to Bale making moves down the left flank. Bale’s attempt ran to the goalkeeper. Gomes parried an Ilsinho cross/shot, and Spurs managed to clear. Palacios hit a shot that went for a corner and then Gunter’s ball from deep on the right was headed down by Chimbonda but cleared.

Shakhtar showed respect for Spurs by replacing Willian with a defender at half time. Bale got the ball deep down the left flank and put in a low cross which just eluded Obika. After 53 minutes, Campbell touched back a cross to Obika who again tested the keeper with a shot. Spurs took a 55th minute lead with a great first senior goal for Giovani Dos Santos. The ball was crossed from the left by Bale, and Campbell battled to win a determined touch that allowed the ball to reach Giovani who took a touch then hit a great rising left footer into the roof of the net! Did Spurs dare to get back on level terms in the tie?

Gilberto got forward on occasions and hit a good looking low ball across the area that Campbell and Giovani tried to meet but failed. Campbell appeared to have been pushed in the back again in the box, but there was no penalty. Shakhtar replaced their lone striker Gladkyy with Bolivian Moreno, but it was Fernandinho who first tested Gomes with the next shot for the visitors. Gomes had a good chance though after 68 minutes, when he was in too much space on the left, hitting a shot held by Gomes.

O’Hara was replaced by Dean Parrett for his first home appearance, and John Bostock came on for Gilberto with a quarter of an hour left. Bale reverted to left back, as Gilberto went off and put over a free kick after Obika had been fouled 23 yards out. Spurs failed to make headway in the late stages though, as Gomes saved from Jadson after 81 minutes, but was then beaten when Fernandinho was given too much room on the left, before scoring the equaliser which was celebrated with gusto in front of the respectable number of Shakhtar fans in the corner of the Park Lane stand.

Spurs’ fixture list for the remainder of the season is thus radically reduced, and it is frustrating to wonder what a full strength side could have done against Shakhtar. Spurs must win on Sunday to qualify for a fourth successive season in Europe, but I suspect that even if we lose on Sunday, Premier League survival will exonerate Harry Redknapp from the criticism being levelled at him from some quarters over team selection for this European tie.

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