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Spurs v Hearts, 25.08.11

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
PLAY-OFF – 2ND LEG (8 P.M.)
THURSDAY 25TH AUGUST, 2011
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 0 (0)
(Spurs win 5-0 on aggregate)

Attendance:- 32,590

Referee:- Mr. Anastassios Kakos
Assistants:- Mr. Christos Akrivos & Mr. Gagas Dimitrios
Fourth Official:- Mr. Ilias Spathas
(All officials from Greece)

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Corluka, Dawson (Capt.) (sub Kaboul, 46), Bassong, Townsend; Fredericks (sub Kranjcar, 61), Livermore (sub Nicholson, 76), Huddlestone, Carroll; Kane, Pavlyuchenko
(Armband to Corluka)

Subs not used:- Friedel; Ekotto; Van der Vaart, Defoe

Booked:- Pavlyuchenko, Townsend

Hearts (4-2-3-1):- MacDonald; McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas (Captain), Grainger; Robinson (sub Taouil, 79), Jonsson; Templeton, Skacel (sub Mrowiec, 72), Novikovas; Smith (sub Suso Santana, 83)

Subs not used:- Kello; Obua, Driver, Stevenson

Booked:- MacDonald (foul on Kane conceding penalty)

Hearts join Scottish exodus out of Europe

This tie was over after the first leg, when Spurs trounced Hearts 5-0 at Tynecastle, but despite an honourable draw at White Hart Lane last night, one of the big football stories was the fact that no Scottish team is in Europe this season, after both Rangers and Celtic were also eliminated. Apparently this is the first time since 1955 that no Scottish team has played European football after September 1st. Both Spurs and Hearts made wholesale changes to their teams for this leg, and in Spurs’ case, 4 more young players were blooded in the shape of midfielders Tom Carroll, and Ryan Fredericks, striker Harry Kane and substitute Jake Nicholson.

Harry Kane won a place in the headlines after winning then taking a first half penalty, which goalkeeper MacDonald saved, after being booked for the foul. Tom Carroll caught the eye most though, playing nominally on the left, although creeping inside as left back Andros Townsend took charge down the flank. Carroll pinged some decent passes around. Ryan Fredericks is a pacy winger, who probably suffered most from nerves on the occasion. With Townsend and Livermore continuing their apprenticeship, it was a very young Spurs side out there. With three experienced defenders though, Spurs safely secured a clean sheet, although Carlo Cudicini made some good saves to keep the game goal-less. At the other end, apart from Kane’s penalty failure, Pavlyuchenko failed to impress, with two skied shots into the Paxton Road End in the second half.

The most excitement all night was probably the announcement (not over the Pa system) during the game that Adebayor has at last signed the loan deal that has been negotiated for what seems ages. Spurs fans have already been practising different lyrics to THAT song. Spurs have also acquired a 21 year old Juventus midfielder Yago Falque, also on a one year loan. The other piece of genuine excitement, love and affection was the greeting for Dave Mackay, who was introduced, but not interviewed at the interval. Dave’s applause was mighty and long, from both sets of fans.

There had also been an exodus out of Edinburgh of some three thousand Hearts fans, who did themselves and their team proud, singing throughout the game, as for the most part Spurs fans watched in respectful silence.

The visitors had the first decent chance after 5 minutes, when the ball fell to Skacel, who fired way over the target. After a good ball by Carroll, Pavlyuchenko tested MacDonald with a decent low shot. The keeper conceded the first of a couple of corners, with Spurs putting a little pressure on the visitors. Dawson was a little hesitant after 11 minutes and Gordon Smith hit the bar with his shot. 10 minutes later Cudicini (Spurs third different keeper in their first three games) beat down a free kick from Grainger, taken low from the right.

Pavlyuchenko took a yellow card for a tackle from behind when he chased back to the middle. The penalty was awarded after 29 minutes, when Townsend chipped a ball into the area, and Kane was brought down by the advancing and abandoned goalkeeper. The referee pointed emphatically to the spot, and Kane got up to take the kick, which unfortunately was not so emphatic and enabled MacDonald to save with a dive to his right, and at the right height. I couldn’t help wondering if one of Spurs experienced players should have taken responsibility.

At the other end, Hearts kept plugging, and Cudicini had to save at the near post when Novikovas had a run from the left side and managed to get a shot on target. Cudicini demonstrated fine handling as he cleanly caught Grainger’s corner.

Skipper Michael Dawson was replaced at half-time by Kaboul, and Vedran Corluka took over the armband. Hearts had an early effort, when Skacel sent a ball to Templeton on the right channel, who fired just outside the post. Jonsson tried a left footed shot after 53 minutes, which passed over. With the effort, Jonsson went down and needed treatment. A short pass back by Livermore high in the midfield led to a Hearts attack and a corner. Fredericks was replaced by Kranjcar. Carroll moved nominally to the right now, with Huddlestone and Livermore staying in the middle, and Kranjcar playing from the left, but with some freedom.

Spurs put a bit of pressure on the Hearts goal after 72 minutes, winning a couple of corners, one of which was from a deflected long range shot by Townsend. Huddlestone and Kranjcar started to exert their authority on the game, but Hearts held firm at the back. Corluka crossed low from the right, but Pavlyuchenko scooped this chance well over the bar from 12 yards. With less than ten minutes remaining, substitute Nicholson combined with Townsend, and Kranjcar had a useful right foot shot saved. There was another nice Spurs move from the back after 84 minutes, with fluent passing football. The move ended with another Pavlyuchenko skied shot. Bassong even ventured forward down the left and fed Townsend, who went down just inside the box, but no change out of the Greek referee. Cudicini had one more save to make, and this was a good holding dive to his right from a shot by Taouil.

As a whole then, the game was rather sterile, but Spurs have got the job done, and blooded some young players at the same time, preserving their star players for a stern test on Sunday at home to Manchester City, Nasri and all. Now we wait for today’s Europa League draw to find our opponents for the 6 games to come before Christmas in this tournament.

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