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Anzhi v Spurs, 03.10.13

(5pm – BST)

Defoe, 34
Chadli, 39

Attendance:- Est. 5,000

Referee:- Mr. Bulent Yildirim
Assistants:- Mr. Serkan Genkerler & Mr. Ekrem Kan
Additional assistants:- Mr. Baris Simsek & Mr. Mustafa Ilker Coskun
Fourth official:- Mr. Kemal Yilmaz
(All officials from Turkey)

Anzhi (4-2-3-1):- Pomazan; Angbwa (sub Gadzhibekov, 79), Adeleye, Ewerton, Tagirbekov; Jucilei da Silva (Capt.), Ahmedov; Solomatin, Razak, Serderov (sub Eschenko, 56); Abdulavov (sub Traore, 46)

Subs not used:- Kerzhakov; Grigalava, Demidov, Gatagov

No bookings

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Chiriches, Kaboul (Capt.) (sub Dawson, 71), Fryers; Dembele, Sandro; Lamela (sub Sigurdsson, 72), Holtby (sub Eriksen, 78), Chadli; Defoe
(Armband to Dawson)

Subs not used:- Friedel; Naughton; Kane; Soldado

No bookings

Spurs negotiate safe passage from Russia.

It was a case of job done once again, as Spurs took control of Group K in the Europa League against an Anzhi side that has reverted to (at best) mediocrity now that their owner has decreed a sale of most of their star players, and a lower operating budget. In effect, both teams were playing away from home, because UEFA stipulates that Anzhi’s home stadium in the Russian province of Dagestan is not safe enough to host their games.

This year Anzhi are using The Saturn Stadium in Rameskoye, a suburb of Moscow with a capacity of 15,000. There were an estimated 5,000 fans present, most of which were the Anzhi fans, with a small band of Spurs supporters actually enhanced by the presence of Russian Spurs supporters. Ironically, those Russian fans were chanting the “Y” word, which even today in London is the subject of controversy, with the police warning that use of the word could result in arrest for anybody.

It was a dry but cloudy night with gloves being worn by some of the Spurs team in the 3C temperature. The uneven and bobbly pitch gave the Spurs players problems all night really, with passes falling short, and the ball being more difficult to control than on our near perfect Premier League pitches. Spurs controlled the play in the first half, but whenever they advanced into the Anzhi half, they found a well formed barrier of at least 8 yellow shirts in front of the goal. Anzhi showed plenty of mettle, closing Spurs down well. Surprisingly for a European game, the Turkish referee kept his cards in his pocket all night, which worked in favour of both sides on occasions when other officials would have shown a card.

The Anzhi strategy was clearly to try and catch the Spurs defence on the hop with long balls over the high line, and in the early stages they nearly did this, with their most prominent player Pavel Solomatin flagged offside to the relief of Vlad Chiriches, who once again took a while to settle down, struggling to clear from Solomatin in the opening minutes.

Chadli and Holtby had been showing early for Spurs, but their first real chance was forged by Lamela and Walker. Lamela chipped a ball down the right channel, and Kyle Walker just managed to retrieve it at the bye-line cutting the ball back, but just behind Jermain Defoe. Defoe did have a shot within a minute, after receiving a ball from Sandro, but it was off target. Sandro then had a shot himself, after Dembele’s pass. Goalkeeper Pomazan held Sandro’s shot at the second attempt.

It was a while before Anzhi managed a decent threat on the Spurs goal. This came from Serderov’s pass inside the defence for Abdulavov, but Hugo Lloris was comfortably the first to the ball. Solomatin was then the provider for Serderov, but Lloris was down the smother the chance, and a free kick had been awarded to Spurs in any case.

The best chance of the game yet came after 31 minutes, when Walker passed inside for Lewis Holtby who hit a curling left footed shot that Pomazan dived for and punched clear with both fists extended to his right. It wasn’t long though before Spurs took a deserved lead. Holtby was once again the creator, and from a position just left of centre, he slipped a neat ball to Defoe who was just inside the box on the right, and was onside! Defoe beat the keeper with a rising right footed shot that hit the roof of the net for his seventh goal of the season, and his 21st European goal for Spurs, now just one behind Martin Chivers’ record.

Five minutes later it was 2-0 to Spurs, and it was a lovely movement. Holtby was deeper this time and lofted a pass for Walker, who was towards the right. Waller passed inside quickly, and Chadli met the ball to score with a quick and well directed shot past the goalkeeper’s right arms. Just before the break, Holtby and Walker were nearly the providers again, but Walker’s pass was just not quite right for Defoe, who missed his kick under pressure from the defence.

Anzhi replaced Abdulavov at half-time with Ivory Coast International Lacina Traore, who has been out for a couple of weeks. Traore is a powerful runner, who gave Spurs one or two problems. However, Spurs had the first chance of the half, with Lamela breaking down the right side, passing inside to Chadli, who fired wide. Anzhi’s next substitution was Eschenko for Serderov, and in no time, he and Traore got forward to good effect. Traore shook off Sandro’s challenge, passing ahead to Eschenko, whose cross was saved and cleared by Lloris.

Sandro did not have the best of games, bearing in mind the standard we expect of him, and after a poor ball inside the left corner flag, that man Solomatin had a shot from a narrow angle on the right, which Lloris saved, conceding a corner. Spurs at last made headway again against the Anzhi defence, and after Defoe and Lamela combined on the left, Holtby hit a weak shot that was too easy for the keeper.

Anzhi were certainly having a go, not that it took a performance to fire up their band of vocal supporters. Solomatin went down too easily when faced by Kaboul in the box, and might have been carded by another official. Kaboul had to go off shortly afterwards, and his fitness is becoming a worry. By now though, Chiriches had again settled down, and when Michael Dawson replaced Kaboul, the Rumanian shifted to the left of centre. Lamela was also replaced at this time by Gylfi Sigurdsson. A little later Eriksen replaced Holtby, and offered a little more passing authority in the middle

Spurs were now happy to see this game out though. Defoe had a half chance from the edge of the area, which went over the goal, after Eriksen and Chadli had provided the build-up. Solomatin forced another good save from Lloris with a shot from the right of centre. As the game drew to a close, Chadli sent a good ball for Defoe to the left of the area. Jermain was looking for that second goal, and the chance to level with Chivers’ record, and the goalkeeper was on the floor having failed to snatch the ball off his feet, but his defence managed to prevent a meaningful shot.

Tromso and Sheriff drew 1-1, and Spurs already head their group by four points with only two games played. They are apparently the bookies’ favourites to win the tournament outright. The Final in May is a long, long way off, but Spurs certainly look sure to finish top of Group K. Next stop will be Moldova to play Sheriff later this month.

Europa League Group K
(After Matchday 2)

Pos Team    P  W  D  L  F-A  GD  Pts
1. Spurs    2  2  0  0  5-0   5   6
2. Sheriff  2  0  2  0  1-1   0   2
3. Anzhi    2  0  1  1  0-2  -2   1
4. Tromso   2  0  1  1  1-4  -3   1

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