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Lazio v Spurs, 22.11.12

EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP J
Match 5
THURSDAY 22ND NOVEMBER, 2012
(7 PM C.E.T)
S.S. LAZIO 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)

Attendance:- 20,000 ( BBC figure)

Referee:- Mr. Fernando Teixeira
Assistants:- Mr. J. Guadamuro & Mr. R. Martinez
Fourth Official:- Mr. J. Miranda
Additional assistants:- Mr. A. Lahoz & Mr. C. Ferreiro
(All officials from Spain)

Teams:-
Lazio (4-1-4-1):- Marchetti; Cavanda, Biava, Ciani, Radu; Ledesma; Mauri (Capt.), Gonzalez, Hernanes (sub Ederson, 69), Lulic (sub Candreva, 78); Kozak (sub Floccari, 78)

Subs not used:- Bizzarri, Scaloni, Onazi, Rozzi

Booked:- Floccari (Handball), Mauri

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Caulker, Vertonghen, Naughton; Sandro, Carroll (sub Dembele, 76); Sigurdsson (sub Lennon, 63), Dempsey (sub Defoe, 63), Bale (Capt.), Adebayor

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Dawson; Huddlestone, Livermore

Booked:- Vertonghen (foul on Ederson)

We came, we saw, we got a draw

Spurs secured a precious point that takes them closer to qualification for the knock-out phase of this competition, leaving them needing just one more point from the final game at home to Panathinaikos in two week's time to secure qualification. Lazio remain two points ahead of us, and it is unlikely they will surrender the top position.

I suspect there were considerably more than the given attendance figure of 20,000 in the ground, although there were large expanses of empty seats. There was a good number of Spurs fans present, and they gave continuous loud vocal support.

Former hero of both sides, Paul Gascoigne was paraded around the ground before the game, and with the mutual respect shown by both sets of fans it was hard to believe that on the previous night a group of innocent Spurs fans had been so viciously ambushed by "Ultras" (since reputed to be connected with Roma, not Lazio), wielding all manner of weapons, causing more than one serious injury. I have seen a picture of one head wound that looked as if it had been caused by a cleaver. I also met several of the innocent fans, and you could not wish to meet milder-mannered individuals. One showed me his bruising, and he shook just to recall the incident.

By and large, the safety arrangements put in place for the rest of us worked effectively, although I understand there were small pockets of incidents after the game. I shall think twice before coming to Rome for football again.

Part of the build-up for a Lazio game involves a magnificent eagle, wearing Lazio colours in its tail feathers, swooping around the stadium. The atmosphere was terrific in the ground.

To the football, and Spurs were given a mighty boost by the presence of Mousa Dembele on the bench. As expected, Adebayor started, and Defoe was on the bench. Adebayor's next game is likely to be the home game against Panathinaikos, due to his three match domestic ban.

Tom Carroll started in preference to Huddlestone, and Steven Caulker returned to the defence. There were places for Sigurdsson and Dempsey, although they would later be replaced by Lennon and Defoe.

Spurs made a bright start, with Carroll feeding a nice ball to Bale, who had been called offside before he put the ball in the net after only four minutes. I have heard that maybe Bale was not offside, but the flag had been raised before the "goal".

Gradually though, the nature of the game became such that Spurs struggled to break clear, with Adebayor not able to fulfil his role of holding the ball up sufficiently. Hugo Lloris was in tip-top form though, and made a number of vital saves and interceptions. After the game, he made the effort to come all the way to the Spurs fans, throwing his shirt to one delighted recipient.

Lazio played a strong midfield line-up, with their captain Mauri turning up anywhere in a fluid formation. After an attacking throw, he had a chance to turn and shoot, but chose to pass to his left, leading to a poor effort on goal. Lulic then fired over after a cross from left back Radu.

Lloris then made a good save from a spinning shot from midfield outside the box by Ledesma.

Another nice pass by Carroll was sent on by Adebayor to Bale, who was on the right wing. From the corner, Caulker headed across goal, and wanted a corner, but a goal-kick was given.

Walker made an error when covering at the back after a Lazio break, and a cross from the right reached Kozac, who should have scored but took enough time, mis-directing his shot, giving Lloris a chance to get a touch on the ball and concede a corner. Soon after that Kozac headed wide, with Caulker doing enough to stop the striker hitting the target. Kozac is very much second choice to Klose here, but Klose was absent for this game.

There was a frustrating five minutes for Spurs, when Kyle Walker sustained a blood injury, had to change a shirt, then his shorts too, before he was eventually allowed back on.

One of Lloris's great attributes, in my view is his willingness to advance to the edge of his box and snatch the ball off advancing forwards, and he did this to good effect when Kozac advanced after 39 minutes.

The second half was very much an effective backs to the wall job of defending for Spurs. Sandro made an uncharacteristic error on the hour, after which Kozak fired wide again.

AVB then made a double substitution, inserting Lennon and Defoe, but it did not do much to relieve the pressure on the Spurs goal. Lloris was down again to save from Kozac, with Caulker again putting good pressure on the striker, although of course he did still get a shot on goal.

Ledesma took a free kick after 70 minutes, which passed just wide on the wall side of Lloris's goal.

Dembele got a massive cheer from the Spurs section, when replacing Carroll, but there was more defending for Spurs, with Lloris making a great save from Ciani following a corner.

Spurs made one or two late charges and might even have snatched a win at the death, when Bale showed almost for the first time in the second half.

In the end, you have to say that the draw was a good result for Spurs, who have won just one and drawn four of their group games. A fifth draw would be enough to send us into the round of 32!

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