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Spurs v Basel, 04.04.13

EUROPA LEAGUE QUARTER-FINAL (1st leg)
THURSDAY 4TH APRIL, 2013
(8.05pm)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) F.C BASEL 2 (2)

Spurs scorers:-
Adebayor, 40
Sigurdsson, 58

Basel scorers:-
Stocker, 30
F. Frei, 35

Attendance:- 32,136

Referee:- Mr. Milorad Mazic
Assistants:- Mr. Milovan Ristic & Mr. Igor Radojcic
Additional assistants:- Mr. Danilo Grujic & Mr. Miodrag Gogic
Fourth official:- Mr. Dalibor Djurdjevic
(All officials from Serbia)

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Friedel; Naughton, Gallas, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto (sub Dawson, 57); Lennon (sub Sigurdsson, 24), Parker (Capt.), Dembele, Holtby (sub Dempsey, 63); Bale; Adebayor

Subs not used:- Lloris; Caulker; Huddlestone, Livermore

Booked:- Gallas (foul on Streller), Parker (foul on Salah)

Basel (4-1-2-2-1):- Sommer; Steinhofer, Schar, Dragovic, Voser; F. Frei; Elneny, Geoffroy (sub Cabral, 66); Salah (sub Degen, 84), Stocker; Streller (Capt.) (sub Zoua, 71) (Armband to Stocker) Subs not used:- Vailati; Ajeti, Sauro, A. Frei

Booked:- F. Frei (foul on Dembele)

Spurs faulty against Basel.

Spurs were flawed but not floored tonight at White Hart Lane in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final. Basel have the definite advantage, having gained a draw and two away goals, but from a position where they had been two goals down, Spurs clawed their way back to parity. All is not lost, but they need either a higher scoring draw, or an away win to go though to the semi-final stage.

We actually finished the match with 9 men on the pitch, not through any disciplinary problems, but because William Gallas walked off injured two minutes before full time, and then Gareth Bale was stretchered off in added time with what could be a nasty ankle injury. If Bale is out for the season, then obviously Spurs' season is in the balance.

Aaron Lennon also left proceedings early, after only 23 minutes, and with Bale playing a central position, Spurs were left without a wing man for most of the game.

Kyle Walker was suspended, replaced by Naughton, giving Assou-Ekotto the left back berth. 'Benny' looked out of sorts to be honest, and was too often left behind by Basel's right side man Mohamed Salah, often gaining ground inside his full back.

Basel looked a neat outfit. They knocked out Zenit St. Petersburg in the last round; a fact emphasised by the banner displayed by the vociferous visiting fans. Head coach Murat Yakin was a 'libero' in his playing days, and obviously likes such a player within his ranks with Fabian Frei playing this role just in front of the defence, but also falling back to cover the exploits down the right wing of full back Markus Steinhofer, who supported Salah to the fullest extent.

Basel seemed able to out-number Spurs when defending and when on the attack. They simply looked sharper than Spurs for so much of the game.

Gallas suffered a heavy body check after only three minutes, which went un-punished by the Serbian referee, who had a better game than when we last encountered him in Salonika 18 months ago against PAOK.

Basel defender Fabian Schar liked to get forward in Vertonghen style. There was no way that Basel had come here to defend. Schar hit a decent shot on target after 9 minutes, and Friedel got down well to hold the shot. Then,after a cross from the left, Basel skipper and top scorer Marco Streller hit a glancing shot across goal, which was saved. Finally, right back Steinhofer tried to get in on the act, with a shot fired wide. The danger signs were on brightly for Spurs and their fans.

Dembele was fouled just on the edge of the Basel area after 15 minutes, after a good pass by Parker. Bale took the free kick, but was alert to the movement of goalkeeper Sommer, and adjusted his shot to fire one low, which took a deflection, and was saved by the keeper.

After an attacking throw on the left, Adebayor passed across goal to Bale, whose shot passed just outside the post.

Lennon left the field, hopefully as a precaution, and was replaced by Sigurdsson, who soon won a corner, after which Kyle Naughton drew gasps with a good effort from outside the box.

Sadly, Spurs fell behind to some good play by Basel. Salah crossed from the right, and Streller's shot had Friedel beaten, but rebounded off the post. The reprieve was all too brief as Stocker pounced upon the rebound for a simple finish, with Friedel stranded.

Things got worse within five minutes, after a Stocker corner from the right was only half cleared and fell for Fabian Frei, who gleefully headed home to secure a two goal lead. Things were looking grim.

Stocker might have increased that lead when he got through on the left side of the box, but thankfully for Spurs, fired wide across the goalmouth.

Spurs got a goal back five minutes before the break after a Bale cross from the right. The cross was blocked and fell to Parker, whose shot was deflected and fell into the path of Adebayor, who fired home and promptly picked up the ball and ran back for the re-start.

Scott Parker then had a fantastic chance and I really don 't know how he missed with the goal gaping before him. The chance came following a Bale pass to Sigurdsson and the Icelander's pass.

There was another chance for Basel, as Gallas failed to cut out a cross from the left and Salah's shot was held. At the other end, Bale fed the ball to Dembele, whose shot went straight to the Basel keeper.

David Ginola was the half-time guest, and how Spurs could have done with his inspiration. This was one of those games, in my opinion, crying out for Bale to be unleashed down the left side.

Salah got through past Vertonghen, and saw his shot saved. Bale won a corner, taken on the left and fed to Assou-Ekotto, who passed to Naughton, who tried his luck from distance, bringing a save from Sommer.

Now Assou-Ekotto was replaced by club captain Michael Dawson, which meant that Vertonghen moved to the left back position. I felt that Dawson was somewhat out of sorts, and took a while to settle into the pace of the game.

Spurs did get back on terms though, thanks to a Sigurdsson goal that was Bale-like in its execution. Sigurdsson cut in from the left and hit a looping right foot shot that took a deflection and beat Sommer to make it 2-2, with all to play for on the night.

However, at the other end it looked like a hospital ball from Vertonghen to Dawson that gave Salah another chance, but he fired wide. Lewis Holtby got a shot on goal after Vertonghen, Parker and Sigurdsson had been involved in the build-up, but his effort went wide. Holtby was then replaced by Dempsey, but he made no more impression.

Friedel pushed out a Stocker shot from a free kick for a corner, after the kick was curled towards the keeper's top right corner. Gallas was lucky to escape a second booking for halting a Basel breakaway in the Spurs half, conceding a free kick.

To be honest, in the time remaining, Basel had the most threat; most chances; and looked more deserving of the win. With those late injuries to Gallas and Bale, Spurs were happy to see out the game, and we do at least live to fight another day, in Switzerland next week.

As for the league season, things are starting to look more than a little ominous, with crucial players missing, such as Bale.

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