UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
GROUP A - MATCH FIVE
WEDNESDAY 24TH NOVEMBER, 2010
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2) WERDER BREMEN 0 (0)
Referee:- Mr. Olegario Benquerenca
Assistants:- Mr. B. Miranda & Mr. J. Cardinal
Fourth Official:- Mr. V. Santos
Additional assistants:- Mr. A. Dias & Mr. C. Xistra
(All officials from Portugal)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Hutton, Gallas (Capt.), Kaboul, Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas (sub Palacios, 20), Modric, Bale (sub Kranjcar, 81); Pavlyuchenko (sub Defoe, 57), Crouch
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong; Keane
Werder Bremen (4-2-3-1):- Wiese; Fritz, Mertesacker (Capt.), Prodl, Schmidt; Jensen (sub Pasanen, 86), Bargfrede; Kroos (sub Onur Ayik, 55), Hunt (sub Lennart Thy, 80), Marin; Wagner
Subs not used:- Mielitz; Andersen; Testroet; Husejinovic
Booked:- Fritz (foul on Bale), Prodl (foul on Lennon), Kroos, Wagner
Spurs march into the last 16!
Spurs maintained their recent surge of form, and their great European form with a comfortable 3-0 win over a decimated and crisis-torn Werder Bremen side that has now failed to even score in five games, despite the presence of their star player Marko Marin. A 6th minute goal by Younes Kaboul, after some early Spurs pressure and corners set Spurs on their way, and once Luka Modric scored a Van der Vaart type goal in first half added time, the result was never in doubt. Peter Crouch added a deserved third goal, but Spurs could have scored three more, as Gareth Bale had a penalty saved, and hit the woodwork twice. Both Spurs and Inter won and thus ensured their passage to the knock-out phase, and as long as we at least match Inter’s result in our last game, we will qualify as Group leaders, which would give us a potentially easier passage to the quarter-finals. Mind you, this is the team that has beaten the reigning Champions of Europe, so why should we be afraid of anybody?
Rafael Van der Vaart was not fit to play, so Harry Redknapp started with a 4-4-2, featuring Aaron Lennon on the right wing, and Pavlyuchenko beside Peter Crouch. Werder played with Wagner as a lone striker, but supported by an advanced midfield guard of Kroos, Hunt and danger-man Marin. Jensen also got forward in support on the rare occasions the game permitted such venture by the visitors, who brought with them a healthy support of some 1500, who made a fair bit of noise too. With nothing to lose, Werder had come to play, but the able Spurs defence marshalled by new captain William Gallas snuffed out the threat of Marin, and as a result the real threat of the German team. Gomes was rarely tested to any great degree.
I felt that our centre-back partnership played really well, and to be honest, when Michael Dawson is fit, I don’t see a reason to break up what is becoming a more and more effective pairing. Both full backs were prone to a few errors – Hutton more than Ekotto – but their attacking flair more than made up for such misdemeanours. Luka Modric lost a few passes in the first half, but became more and more effective as the game progressed, working up and down the pitch, and of course scoring his first ever Champions League goal. Spurs had to replace the injured Jenas at an early stage, but Wilson Palacios came on and played his best game for Spurs for a considerable time, winning his tackles, not getting booked , and making some incisive passes too!
Spurs got that welcome early goal after subjecting the visitors to a little pressure which included two corners. Subsequently, Lennon crossed from the right to the near post, where Kaboul was lurking to score a great striker’s near post goal with his right foot. Thus Kaboul carried on where he left off at Arsenal with the scoring touch and two consecutive goals for Spurs.
The goal took a bit of potential fizz out of the game, as Spurs were happy to play within themselves, and to stem any attacking threat offered by Werder. After Palacios had come on, Ekotto sent a good cross to the back post, where Crouch returned the ball across the goal and Pavlyuchenko managed to skew his shot back across the goalmouth and well wide of the target. Soon after, Pavlyuchenko drew a foul, and Gareth Bale’s dipping free kick passed just outside the keeper’s left post.
Marin did get a shot on target, picked up by Gomes, after a cross from the right was only half cleared by the defence. Pavlyuchenko had another great chance after 35 minutes, when Hutton sent Lennon away on a good run, before crossing. Pavlyuchenko had time to pick his spot really, but failed to even get a shot on goal, as Werder blocked desperately. The Portuguese referee seemed somewhat lenient over the course of the game, despite 4 bookings for the visitors, who still got away with a lot of cynical fouls. Both wingers – Bale and Lennon – drew the first two bookings. In first half added time, it was Alan Hutton who got in a deep cross, and Crouch headed the ball down for Modric, who flicked the ball over the defender’s head a la Van der Vaart versus Aston Villa, before firing home for a great goal.
Without ever over-stretching themselves, Spurs did seem able to attack and threaten at will, and whilst such moments came in spasms, they were worth watching! After Prodl’s foul on Lennon outside the right corner of the area, Bale took the free kick, which rebounded out off the bar. A minute later Modric sent bale away with a super Huddlestone-type ball to the wing. Bale’s deep cross to the far post was headed goalward by Crouch, but somehow deflected out for a corner. As Spurs continued this spell of pressure, Modric was fouled inside the box by Kroos, who saw yellow as a result. Bale stepped up to take the kick, but made it too easy for goalkeeper Wiese diving to his left to make the save.
Kroos was replaced by 20 year old striker Onur Ayik, but he made little difference to the Spurs domination. Crouch headed over from a corner, before Pavlyuchenko was replaced by Defoe. Pavlyuchenko seemed to get upset about this, and threw his gloves towards the touchline. Whether this was frustration at being substituted, or perhaps with his own failings earlier in the match, we may never know. Defoe forged a good chance for himself after a Modric pass within 5 minutes, hitting a powerful right footed shot that the keeper saved. Then Bale had a low cross/shot saved at the near post.
A mistake by Hutton as he passed shot towards Gallas gave Marin a chance, as he raced towards goal. Gallas fought back and got between the midfielder and the goal, using all his strength and experience, allowing the ball to run into Gomes’ arms. After 75 minutes, Palacios curled a great pass down the right channel for Defoe, who twisted and turned right and left to try and get his shot in, but the situation was well defended by Werder Bremen, and no shot came. Soon after that Defoe spread the play to Bale, whose low driven shot passed fractionally wide of the far post. Bale was to the fore again with a trademark run and a cross that landed on the bar and bounced beyond the goal, to be chased by Lennon. Lennon beat his defender then crossed hard and low to the near post, where Crouch met the ball with a well-directed shot into the net for a 3-0 lead.
Bale was rewarded for his efforts, and a comfortable lead with a slightly early finish, allowing Niko Kranjcar to get 10 minutes.
We now look forward to our trip to Twente in two weeks’ time, but next up is another vital game on Sunday at home to Liverpool, who will be missing Gerrard. We’ve beaten Liverpool at home in our last two league meetings, and we now fear nobody, so bring it on! COME ON YOU SPURS!
Champions League Group A
P W D L F-A GD PTS
1.Spurs 5 3 1 1 15-8 7 10
2.Inter Milan 5 3 1 1 12-8 4 10
3.Fc Twente 5 1 2 2 6-8 -2 5
4.SV Werder Bremen 5 0 2 3 3-12 -9 2