U.E.F.A. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
GROUP A – MATCH 6
TUESDAY 7TH DECEMBER, 2010
F.C. TWENTE 3 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1)
Landzaat (pen), 22
Wisgerhof (o.g.), 12
Defoe, 47, 60
Referee:- Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)
Assistant referees Roberto Alonso Fernández (ESP), Jesús Calvo Guadamuro (ESP)
Additional assistant referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes (ESP)
Additional assistant referee César Muñiz Fernández (ESP)
Fourth official Javier Estrada Fernandez (ESP)
FC Twente (4-1-4-1):- Boschker; Rosales, Wisgerhof (Capt.), Douglas, Tiendalli; Brama; De Jong, Landzaat, Janssen, Chadli; Janko (sub Vujicevic, 73)
Subs not used:- Mihailov; Bengtsson, Buysse, Leugers; Parker; Ola John
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Gallas (Capt.), Bassong, Ekotto; Kranjcar (sub Crouch, 86), Palacios, Jenas (sub Lennon, 34), Bale; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko (sub Keane, 73)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Hutton, Dawson; Giovani
Booked:- Jenas (time-wasting)
Pride in our Tottenham
There was so much pride on display in the FC Twente Stadium in Enschede last night. There was pride to be had in our team’s attacking intentions, displayed through their Champions League campaign; pride in the fact we took the lead in our third away game of the Group stage (three times!); pride in Jermain Defoe’s two goals that sealed Spurs’ path to the last 16, and pride in the confirmed fact that our Tottenham have topped the group that was expected to be a cake-walk for the reigning Champions of Europe, Inter. We were astounded to see Inter’s plight in Bremen, where we saw the score-line on display on the big screen in the stadium, and knew that Inter were losing from an early stage of their game. Thus with just a draw, Spurs topped the group on points, goal difference and on their better overall performance against the said Inter team!
The team news before the game had not been good, with Luka Modric out with flu. Harry Redknapp had also telegraphed that he might give Vedran Corluka a game at right back, and the ultimate selection still managed to leave Lennon and Crouch on the bench, despite the ongoing absence of key players such as Van der Vaart, Ledley King, Younes Kaboul, Tom Huddlestone in addition to Modric. It looked as if Harry was prioritising Sunday’s game against Chelsea, despite the requirement to go for a win last night with a weakened team. As it happened, Spurs took the lead three times, and despite being pegged back each time by a home side who had nothing but pride to play for, completed the task of matching or bettering Inter’s result.
Niko Kranjcar got his first Champions League start last night, and started on the right side of the midfield. Jenas partnered Palacios who is regaining some of his best form, and Pavlyuchenko started alongside Defoe. The home side played a fluid midfield, but essentially it looked like their man of the match Wout Brama playing behind an attacking midfield of Dei Jong, Landzaat (once of Wigan), Janssen and Chadli, who were supporting Janko with plenty of strong runs, shots and passes. Indeed, one of Spurs’ problems throughout the game was the amount of space they left in the midfield for Twente to find and exploit effectively. Spurs only response to this was to attack, attack, attack whenever possible, and as a spectacle the game was open and end to end, which must have been pleasing to the independent eye.
It was Gomes who had to make the first save after 4 minutes and a Twente corner, touched back by Janko for the advancing Brama to hit a testing shot, that Gomes was happy to push out for another corner. Jenas and Pavlyuchenko made nice touches to give Bale a run a minute later, which led to a corner, with no positive result for Spurs. The referee displayed an apparent preference for the home side not for the first time, when he harshly penalised Palacios just outside the Spurs area. Jenssen’s free kick passed just wide. Gomes was alert a minute later for De Jong’s effort on goal.
Spurs took a bizarre lead, and I think the softest goal I have ever seen scored in our favour when, under pressure from Pavlyuchenko, Twente’s skipper Peter Wisgerhof hit a gentle back pass towards the goalkeeper – the 40 year old Sander Boschker – who took an air kick allowing the ball to roll past him and into his bottom left corner!
Twente were back on terms after a twice taken penalty, which was harshly awarded when Ekotto was adjudged to have handled what was a powerful cross/shot into the Spurs area. Landzaat took a convoluted run-up for his first take, which did hit the net, but with plenty of encroachment from Twente players. Landzaat varied the direction of his properly taken second penalty, and Gomes got a touch, but the ball still hit the net.
Pavlyuchenko had a fine solo effort after 27 minutes, hitting a right footed shot to the left of the keeper, who saved and conceded a corner gratefully. Jermaine Jenas had to be replaced after 31 minutes, having aggravated his recent calf injury. Jenas got booked for taking too long to get off too. He was replaced by Lennon and Kranjcar moved into a central midfield position. This left Spurs a little more fragile defensively, although Kranjcar was involved in some of Tottenham’s fine moves. In fact Kranjcar hit a decent right footed shot after good touches from Lennon and Pavlyuchenko after 36 minutes. Gomes sent Kranjcar away on a Spurs break after 42 minutes, when he fed Bale who hit a low cross/shot that the keeper just managed to keep out. In first half added time, Bale was away again and this time he passed to Defoe, whose shot went wide and just too high as well.
Two minutes after the break, Spurs had taken the lead again. Kranjcar and Bale worked the ball well down the left flank, before Bale found Lennon in a central position. Lennon fired a low ball through the defence and Defoe was on hand to fire home from 8 yards out. Once again though, Twente fought back, playing some decent football themselves. Right back Rosales ghosted in from his position to head home a fine goal at the back post from Janssen’s cross from the left. Spurs bounced back for 3-2, and it started with Palacios using strength and determination to carry the ball forward before firing a low shot that was parried by the keeper into Defoe’s path. Jermain was only too happy to double his tally!
Once again, Spurs failed to hold onto their lead for long, and once again the referee seemed to have shown Twente favour when penalising Aaron Lennon. Jenssen shaped to take the kick, but it was Chadli who stepped up and hit a superb right footed shot high to Gomes’ right. There was still nearly half an hour left, and seemingly more goals in the game. Still, by this time we knew that Inter were two down, so Spurs were in a comfort zone regarding their qualification as Group Leaders. Gomes had to make saves from Jenssen and Brama, one of which was a great low dive to his left.
Pavlyuchenko was replaced by Robbie Keane, making his first appearance in a Spurs shirt for five weeks. Robbie did well in his time on the field, initially playing beside Defoe, then withdrawing to the midfield when Kranjcar was replaced late in the game by Crouch. There was one superb piece of combination play down the left featuring Ekotto, Keane and Bale, which ended with another testing shot by Bale, where the goalkeeper managed to save another low cross, possibly with the aid of the woodwork.
Both sides held out, and the home team was warmly applauded by their fans. I have seen one report that suggested those fans were singing “Goodbye to the Champions League”, but that was coming from the Spurs fans, on more than one occasion. All the great Spurs anthems were given an airing, as you’d expect, along with an invitation to Arsenal to return to Woolwich – “North London is ours”!
It has been a dream to top our Champions’ League group in our first campaign. Now we look forward to the draw on December 17th, and the chance of a decent draw, which ought to give us a great chance to reach the quarter-finals!
All in all, team and fans have done Tottenham Hotspur FC proud!
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Champions League Group A
P W D L F-A GD PTS
1.Spurs 6 3 2 1 18-11 7 11
2.Inter Milan 6 3 1 2 12-11 1 10
3.Fc Twente 6 1 3 2 9-11 -2 6
4.SV Werder Bremen 6 1 2 3 6-12 -6 5