UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
GROUP A – Match 2
WEDNESDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER, 2010
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (0) FC TWENTE 1 (0)
Van Der Vaart, 47
Pavlyuchenko (2 pens), 50,64
Referee:- Mr. Terje Hauge
Assistants:- Mr. Kim Haglund & Mr. Frank Andas
Fourth Official:- Mr. Roy Olsen
Additional assistants:- Mr. Espen Berntsen & Mr. Tom Hagen
(All officials from Norway)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Hutton, King (Capt.), Bassong, Ekotto; Van Der Vaart, Huddlestone, Modric (sub Lennon, 82), Bale; Pavlyuchenko (sub Keane, 89), Crouch (sub Jenas, 66)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Corluka; Palacios, Kranjcar
Booked:- Van Der Vaart
Sent off (second yellow, 60):- Van Der Vaart
FC Twente (4-1-3-2):- Mihaylov; Rosales, Wisgerhof (Capt.), Douglas, Kuiper; Brama; Janssen, Landzaat (sub De Jong, 69), Bajrami (sub Chadli, 28); Ruiz; Janko
Subs not used:- Boschker; Bengtsson, Schimpelsberger; Vujicevic, Parker
Booked:- Mihaylov (time wasting); Kuiper; Rosales
Ten beat Twente, and score plenty!
How I am loving Champions League football! This was yet another glorious night of football at White Hart lane, and credit must be given to FC Twente for coming to play their natural open game, which made it all the more entertaining. After a surprisingly goal-less first half which Spurs had clearly dominated, we came out with a vengeance and struck with two early goals to clearly shock the visitors into even more attacking intentions. Their mission was helped by the 60th minute sending off of Rafael Van Der Vaart for a second bookable offence but the ten men went on to score two more goals to make it a convincing win, and to secure second place in Group A, behind Inter, who beat Bremen 4-0 at The San Siro.
Harry Redknapp was able to field a strong team, led out by Ledley King to that so inspiring theme music on a very wet night at The Lane. Corluka was left on the bench (perhaps because he will be needed on Saturday), and Alan Hutton had an exciting and effective game at right back. Ledley was partnered by Sebastien Bassong, and Ekotto returned at right back. Lennon was also held back, whilst Harry fielded an attacking midfield, featuring Van Der Vaart nominally on the right, Huddlestone beside Modric, and Gareth Bale free to maraud down the left flank. Roman Pavlyuchenko seemed to play just behind Crouch for the start, and was to make double penalty scoring headlines on the night.
Twente fielded a midfield with Brama behind Theo Janssen, Denny Landzaat (formerly of Wigan), and Bajrami, whilst Bryan Ruiz supported Austrian striker Janko from the right flank. Right back Rosales might have wished he’d stayed at home after the battering given to him by Gareth Bale at the height of his scintillating form down the left wing.
As the game proceeded, one new element in the Spurs strategy was for certain players to turn up in strange positions. For example, Ledley King got forward on a couple of occasions outside of dead ball situations, as did Bassong. Bassong even forged some space for himself at one stage and might have had a pop at goal, but chose a pass instead. Tom Huddlestone got further forward at times too, although because of the presence of Modric and Van Der Vaart, Tom was required to support the defence more than usual. Huddlestone was given the space to allow him one of his best games, in my view, and to his credit he worked particularly hard. Ekotto was another who appeared in different attacking positions, other than his usual support down the left flank.
If only Spurs could lift themselves to this form and effort for the league programme, but then not many Premier League sides come to The Lane and seek to express themselves, as did Twente.
One welcome return for Spurs was Gomes, who had one special save to make in the first half, but Ruiz’s early effort was piecemeal for the Brazilian. Landzaat took a shot after 6 minutes, which was well blocked, and Ruiz fired over from the follow-up. Modric sent Bale away with a beautiful long ball in the next minute, and on this occasion, Gareth should have done better with his cross. After a Spurs free kick, Van Der Vaart sent the ball to Bale who again got to the line, but hit his cross too close to the keeper. One of those Huddlestone moments came after 10 minutes, when he seemed to be the most advanced white shirt, and headed back for Crouch who fired wide.
However, Huddlestone could be held blameworthy for failing to prevent Ruiz breaking through the Spurs defence in a move which led to that great save from Gomes, who positioned himself so well, remained big and patient, and stopped the shot with an outstretched right arm. I’ve seen replays which seemed to make the action look slower but at the time, it was a fast reaction and a special moment. Had Twente scored they might have well and truly taken the initiative. Spurs responded with a low Bale cross that just evaded Crouch.
After being supplied by Modric, Van Der Vaart had an excellent shot on goal, which the Bulgarian keeper parried. The ball fell close to Spurs feet, but not close enough. Van Der Vaart won a free kick near the right touch-line and delivered the ball which Crouch could not quite reach. Bajrami went off injured and was replaced by Chadli. There was some end to end excitement after a Bale run and clearance by Twente who broke well, with Janko hitting a shot just wide. Van Der Vaart was turning up everywhere, and tackled and blocked effectively as well as offering his attacking flair.
Gomes got down comfortably to a Ruiz shot after 31 minutes, before Spurs offered another great move. Bale crossed and Crouch headed down for Van Der Vaart, who took one touch then tried an overhead kick which Mihaylov held. Another Bale cross resulted in a shot by Pavlyuchenko which the keeper could only parry. The ball ran out to the right, and was returned to the back post, where Crouch was hauled down and the referee pointed to the spot. Van Der Vaart stepped up, but was delayed by the goal-keeper’s time wasting tactics, which earnt him a booking. Unfortunately for us, his psychology worked and Van Der Vaart put the kick to the right of the keeper at a saveable height. Perhaps out of frustration, Van Der Vaart then got a booking for a foul. Ekotto sent him away with a great clearance, and Van Der Vaart raced ahead of the defence hitting a rising left foot shot, which the keeper pushed over the bar, with a great save.
It was hard to believe there had been no goals at the interval, but we didn’t have to wait long for the deadlock to be broken. Bale ran the ball across the pitch and fed Hutton, who teed up Tom Huddlestone for a cross. Crouch headed the ball down, and again Van Der Vaart was waiting, took one touch, and then fired beyond the helpless goalkeeper in front of the Paxton Road End. Van Der Vaart raced to the bench to celebrate his first goal for us from open play. Perhaps it was also a celebration of the Crouch/Van Der Vaart strategy.
Hardly any time passed before Bale raced into the area and was clearly fouled for another penalty. However, the referee seemed to take a long time, and the decision might once again have been given by the goal-line official. I like the idea of having extra officials! Pavlyuchenko took over penalty duties and sent the keeper the wrong way to score. Twente and their fans (all in the lower tier) were upset and anted a penalty against Crouch, who was assisting the defence, before he took the ball away on a run before eventually hitting a poor shot off target. Twente did get back in the game though after the ball was pinging around the Spurs box, and fell to Chadli who had space on the left of the area, hitting his shot to the left of Gomes in front of the visiting fans.
It was game on, and Spurs situation was not helped by the dismissal of Van Der Vaart who chased a stray ball near the half-way touchline and crashed into a Twente player. It was a rash rather than a cynical challenge, but it means we’ll have to do without him in Milan next month. However, Spurs restored their two goal lead before they’d even adjusted to the absence of a player. Pavlyuchenko hit a powerful shot from just outside the box, which certainly hit a Twente player on the arm. In fairness I would say this was ball to hand, and would have been deeply aggrieved had we been the victims of the decision. On this occasion, after a delay, it seemed to be the line assistant who helped out the referee with the decision. This time Pavlyuchenko hit a cheeky penalty to the left of the keeper.
Now Spurs did adjust their team, with confusion over which striker was to go, before Crouch went off in favour of Jenas. Twente’s coach took off Landzaat for a striker – De Jong – in an effort to reduce the deficit and get back in the game. The Spurs defence was challenged but held firm, with any shots that Twente did manage going off target. Huddlestone started another swift Spurs move with a ball which led to a corner being won by Pavlyuchenko and Modric, whose shot was blocked just in time. Modric was replaced by Lennon with 8 minutes to go, but it was Bale on the other wing who added another goal, seizing upon a stray header from the touchline before racing into the box and squeezing his shot inside Mihaylov’s narrow side.
It was then a great night and a great result for Spurs, who will now have to face Inter away and then at home. Any points from those games will be a bonus, but on the basis of last night’s game, you have to fancy Spurs to get something out of the home game against Bremen, and then in December in Enschede in the return game against Twente. For now though, let’s replicate the form in our Premier League games!
Champions League Group A - 29.09.10
P W D L F-A GD PTS
1.Inter Milan 2 1 1 0 6-2 4 4
2.Spurs 2 1 1 0 6-3 3 4
3.Fc Twente 2 0 1 1 3-6 -3 1
4.SV Werder Bremen 2 0 1 1 2-6 -4 1