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F.C Basel v Spurs, 11.04.13

9.05pm (C.E.T)
Agg. 4-4
Basel won 4-1 on penalties

Basel Scorers:-
Salah, 27
Dragovic, 49

Spurs scorer:-
Dempsey, 23, 82

Attendance:- Announced as 36,500, reported as 40,000

Referee:- Mr. Olegario Benquerenca
Assistants:- Mr. Joao Santos & Mr. Ricardo Santos
Additional assistants:- Mr. Manual De Sousa & Mr. Carlos Xistra
Fourth official:- Mr. Venancio Tome

Basel (4-1-4-1):- Sommer; P. Degen, Schar, Dragovic, Park; F. Frei; Salah (sub A. Frei, 111), Elneny, Geoffroy (sub Marcelo Diaz, 58), Stocker (sub Steinhofer, 70); Streller (Capt.)

Subs not used:- Vailati; Sauro; D. Degen, Cabral

Booked:- Geoffroy (foul on Parker), Streller (unsporting behaviour), Elneny (foul on Adebayor)

Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Friedel; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Naughton (sub Assou-Ekotto, 78); Parker (sub Huddlestone, 77); Dempsey, Dembele(sub Carroll, 59), Holtby, Sigurdsson; Adebayor

Subs not used:- Lloris; Caulker; Livermore; Coulthirst

Booked:- Naughton (foul on Salah), Dembele (foul on Stocker), Dempsey (unsporting behaviour), Dawson (foul on Dragovic), Walker (unsporting behaviour)

Sent off:- (89) Vertonghen (foul on Streller - goal-scoring opportunity)

Played for penalties and look what happened.

Spurs fought valiantly last night in Basel to firstly take the lead in the tie, and then to make it 2-2 before the end of 90 minutes, giving us extra-time in which, down to 10 men they played for penalties.

Sadly the long-standing trait of Spurs for failure and inability at penalty shoot-outs led to our defeat after a 12 game Europa League campaign. Despite the very poor effort in the shoot-out, this was an honourable defeat and an honourable European performance for Spurs, who were missing key men.

Both sides played 4-1-4-1 in front of a capacity crowd in the St. Jacob-Park stadium, with the rain pouring down throughout the evening. Basel were able to shake up their side with the return of suspended full backs Philipp Degen and Joo Ho Park.

Kyle Walker returned, and Kyle Naughton played at left back, with Scott Parker in front of the defence and behind Dempsey, Dembele, Holtby and Sigurdsson. Adebayor was the lone striker.

It was an excellent game of football,but at times the quality was lacking. In the first half, both Dawson and Walker made errors, as did Dembele for the Basel equaliser, but Spurs were generally more composed in the second half, when the home side started sending passes astray. Mind you, as the night went on, the ball was getting held up more on the soggy pitch.

For all their failings though, the teams put up a great show, and the state of Captain Michael Dawson's shirt showed what a battle he had been in. Whichever fan got his shirt at the end of the game has a lot of washing to do!

After an early foul by Parker, Stocker rolled a free kick, left by one player, and struck fiercely by Schar, outside Friedel's right post. Spurs got a foothold in the game though with some good passing football in the face of bustling opposition. An excellent Holtby pass to Adebayor was not converted and in a subsequent passage of play, Dempsey had a shot go wide. A deep cross by Degen was missed by Dawson, but thankfully headed over by Streller.

Adebayor pressurised the Basel keeper and his clearance was not so good, leading to a run by Sigurdsson, who hit a decent effort wide.

In the 23rd minute, after an excellent threaded pass by Vertonghen, Dempsey looked as if he was carrying the ball too wide to his left, but he still managed to shoot home to give Spurs the lead on the night and in the tie.

We only had to hold onto that lead, but of course, we failed. Dembele over-ran the ball in midfield, and the Spurs defence was caught on the hop, thinking the play would go into the Basel half. Salah had too much room outside Naughton, and fired low to the left of Friedel.

A Spurs corner taken by Sigurdsson was headed down by Dempsey and held by the keeper.

Kyle Walker slipped up and gifted the ball to Streller, but luckily, Dawson came to the rescue, and even got a goal-kick with the clearance going off Streller.

After a cross from the left and a touch by Adebayor, Dembele hit an excellent shot which Sommer only saved with a full-stretch dive to his right. Spurs took a couple of bookings before half-time (Naughton and Dembele), but also had a couple of decent efforts on goal through Sigurdsson and Naughton, shooting from outside the area.

Early in the second half, Adebayor won a corner, taken by Sigurdsson, and then headed straight at the keeper by Adebayor. Within minutes, Basel had taken the lead in the tie. They forced a corner with an attempt near the Tottenham goal. Friedel saved a header from the corner, but could only parry the ball directly to Dragovic,who gleefully fired home in front of his own fans, who lit flares in celebration.

Sigurdsson hit a free kick from 22 yards, but it was not up to Bale-like standards. Kyle Walker hit an excellent through pass to Holtby in the middle and he released Adebayor, who took his run too far, giving himself too tight an angle in which to score. He hit the side netting.

Friedel was nowhere when a Basel free kick went wide, and to be honest, there were several times when our goalkeeper was beaten, but grateful to see a shot outside the posts. He parried another shot, which Dawson managed to head back into his hands.

At the other end, Dawson had a good powerful header well saved by Sommer after a corner. There was a lovely passage of play at both ends, and I give full credit to the referee who allowed play to continue at times in the face of some tough challenges. Mind you, he did have a busy night with the cards, didn't he, and I wouldn't say that was not justified.

By now, both Dembele and Scott Parker had been replaced by Tom Carroll and Tom Huddlestone, both of whom brought freshness, fitness, and good passing skills. It was a Huddlestone pass that sent Dempsey away on the left, into the box, hitting a low shot that went in off the keeper for a dramatic equaliser and a 2-2 scoreline that really gave Spurs the advantage on the night, as one more goal would truly have put them in the comfort zone.

Walker got to the bye-line and crossed low and hard beating everybody.

Then Jan Vertonghen tried to clip Streller in as subtle a fashion as possible, but he was the last man, and the referee's red card was justified. Now Huddlestone had to withdraw to the defence, and Spurs would struggle.

They set up in almost a 4-3-2 formation, with Dempsey getting forward when he could, but in truth, the best Spurs could do was hold on, which they did with valiant defending. Whenever Adebayor and Dempsey got forward, the best they could do was try and win corners. They generally failed with that idea.

Mohamed Elneny had a terrific arrowed shot that had Friedel beaten, but which hit the outside of the post on the way out of play. Substitute Diaz also had a shot that looked to have Friedel beaten, but that too passed outside the post.

In the second half of extra time, Michael Dawson made a great diving block at full stretch to deprive the home side of a scoring opportunity.

In essence, Spurs played extra time in the only way they could, to try and defend, and score on the break, but it really looked as if the tired team were playing for penalties. This was to prove fatal, as Basel won the shoot-out 4-1.

The kicks were taken at the home end, putting an extra burden on Friedel, who never looked like saving a penalty. Basel scored all four, with Friedel twice sent the wrong way. Huddlestone took Spurs first kick, hitting it well, but Sommer saved well. Sigurdsson scored by firing straight down the middle. Adebayor loped up take the kick and hit the ball woefully over the bar.

Despite the penalty kick failure, I am very proud of the effort of the team last night. Now we face a tough end of season fight for Champions League football. My head is telling me we won't succeed.

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