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Dnipro v Spurs, 20.02.14

EUROPA LEAGUE ROUND OF 32 (1ST LEG)
THURSDAY 20TH FEBRUARY, 2014
(6PM BST)
DNIPRO DNIPROPETROVSK 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)

Scorer:- Konoplyanka, 81 (pen)

Attendance:- 22,356

Referee:- Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Assistants:- Pau Cebrian Devis & Javier Rodriguez
Additional assistants:- Carlos Gomez & Alejandro Hernandez
Fourth official:- Roberto Diaz Perez del Palomar

Teams:-
Dnipro (4-2-3-1):- Boyko; Fedetskiy, Mazuch, Cheberyachko, Strinic; Kankava, Rotan (Capt.); Zolulya, Giuliano (sub Politylo, 77), Konoplyanka; Matheus (sub Kulakov, 90)

Subs not used:- Lastuvka; Douglas, Kravchenko, Bruno Gama, Kalinic

Booked:- Strinic (foul on Paulinho), Zolulya (simulation)

Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Friedel; Naughton, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Rose; Capoue; Townsend (sub Eriksen, 64), Paulinho, Bentaleb, Chadli; Soldado (sub Kane, 85)

Subs not used:- Archer (56); Fryers (35); Veljkovic (51), McEvoy (57), Onomah (60)

Booked:- Vertonghen (foul on Matheus)

Spurs lose 100% record.

Tim Sherwood lost his first senior European game as a coach, and Spurs lost their 100% record in their ninth Europa League match of the season. It could have been worse though, with Friedel making a vital first half save in a one-on-one situation with Matheus, who should have scored. Friedel had other saves to make too, and Juande Ramosís Dnipro also had a late header rebound off the post, which would have made Spursí task next week all the more difficult.

Things could have been better had Roberto Soldado not missed a sitter after 55 minutes, and also had Chadli not just failed to reach Harry Kaneís touch from a late Spurs corner. Itís hard to argue against the fairness of the result though, and of course Spurs ought to bounce back at White Hart Lane next week.

This game had been in doubt of course, with the terrible events taking place in the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev, over 200 miles north of Dnipro. The kick-off was preceded by a one minute silence, during which some home fans seemed to chant an anthem of some sort. Both teams wore black armbands too, and full respect was paid to those who have suffered, and continue to suffer in the political protests taking place. We must all hope that all Spurs people, including our hardy band of 100 supporters, make it safely back home.

Tim Sherwood made 6 changes from his line-up which faced Newcastle, but sought to maintain the same style with Capoue again patrolling in front of the defence. Spurs players did not find the surface too easy. The grass was patchy and the pitch was uneven and bobbly. Temperatures were just above freezing. Ramosís side did not look at all stale after their winter break, and they closed down the Spurs players effectively and physically, with the referee prepared to allow quite a bit of lee-way. This worked for Spurs on occasions, for example, when Danny Rose handed-off Zolulya off the ball, but in the end, Senor Antonio Mateu Lohaz (from Spain) showed no lenience at the vital moment, when he decreed that Vertonghen had fouled Matheus, allowing Dniproís star winger Konoplyanka to score from the spot. Vertonghen took a booking too.

Spurs were quite often under pressure at the back, partly due to the adventurous tactics, and Danny Roseís commitment to attack. With most of the midfield also forward, and too often losing possession, the Ukrainian side gleefully and efficiently counter-attacked in numbers. This gave Brad Friedel, now officially the oldest ever player in the Europa League, plenty of work to do, and he did it well.

Andros Townsend was visibly disappointed with his performance and was replaced quite early by Christian Eriksen. Andros was guilty of taking too many shots from distance, which were too weak to perturb the keeper. He also ran the ball out of play when in a good position near the bye-line on one occasion.

Paulinho had a speculative shot go well wide after 5 minutes, and soon after that Spurs were caught in possession and caught on the hope as Konoplyanka got round the outside of Kyle Naughton, reached the bye-line crossing short to Matheus, who pushed his effort wide at the near post. Bentaleb and Rose combined in an attacking position down the left, and this move ended with a long range and inaccurate shot by Capoue.

Michael Dawson had not been looking comfortable in defence, but sent Danny Rose away with a good ball to the left just ahead of the centre-line. Rose passed to Chadli ahead of him, and Nacer did well to pass his defender, before crossing towards Soldado, who might have got a touch in the box. Goalkeeper Boyko did not look comfortable, but managed to involuntarily parry this ball, which went clear. Soldado could not then get quite the right touch on another Danny Rose cross. The Spaniard was looking for a pass but there was nobody where he was expecting them to be.

After a Spurs move from the left, featuring Chadli and Paulinho, Andros Townsendís final left-footed shot was no bother for the keeper. Then came the one-on-one moment when Matheus was onto a long ball, and should have scored, but more or less dollied the ball into Friedelís arms. Brad was well-positioned though. Friedel soon had to save again from Matheus. Zolulya was lurking to pick up the scraps, but Brad managed to recover and clear the ball.

Soldado freed Rose with a good ball to the left, but Chadli could not quite reach Roseís cross. Townsend and Paulinho combined down the right, and Paulinhoís cross was cleared as far as Danny Rose, who hit a shot which had the power taken off it, before Boyko picked up.

There was a big call for the referee after Vertonghen led the attack, and Soldado got involved, before Paulinho advanced on goal, and was clipped on the very edge of the box by Strinic, who got a yellow card. The referee gave a free kick, and did not interpret the situation as a goal-scoring opportunity. Townsendís left-footed free kick curled 4 feet wide of the far post. Goalkeeper Boyko was being closed down by Chadli, and almost gifted the ball to Soldado, but the ball just ran too far away from the striker.

Three minutes into the second half, Townsend again tried a shot from distance, but it was too easy for the keeper. A Dnipro free kick caused danger in the Spurs defence. Friedel was out to challenge Zolulya, who was booked for diving. Then came that golden chance for Soldado. Capoue advanced into the Dnipro half and spread the ball diagonally to his right to Naughton. Naughton split two defenders with a good pass to Paulinho, who used his strength and skill to get into the box, sending the ball to the back post where it should have been a simple task for Soldado to finish. He scooped the ball over and slapped the post in his frustration at his miss.

Friedel beat Matheus to a lofted ball, before Eriksen replaced Townsend. Eriksenís first touch was to put the ball into the net after Danny Roseís work, but the offside flag was already raised. At the other end, Dawson made a good block after a jinking run by that man Konoplyanka. Friedel was in action again when Rose had committed to attack, and the defence was short-handed for another Dnipro counter.

Soldado was working hard throughout the game, falling back to deep positions left, right and centre. He collected such a ball down the right side, and with a clever flick sent Eriksen clear. Soldado then made it into the centre for Eriksenís cross, but his shot was deflected twice, before going out for a corner.

Giuliano got between two Spurs defenders in the box, but Brad Friedel was out well to halt his progress. Mazuch headed over in front of goal after a corner. Then came the penalty and yellow card for Vertonghen, when he was adjudged to have given Matheus a helping nudge to the ground as he entered the box. Konoplyanka hit his penalty into the net off the inside of Friedelís right post. Brad had gone the right way, but could not reach that far!

Kane replaced Soldado, and he also nearly scored with his first touch, but the goalkeeper was just first to Chadliís pass. An over-hit corner by Eriksen was returned from the back of the area by Dawson. Paulinhoís effort resulted in another corner, after which the ball was hit across Chadliís bows. The home side had two chances to increase their lead in the closing stages, with the Spurs defence in some disarray. Zolulyaís header rebounded off the post, with Friedel beaten all ends up.

In the circumstances, with so many key players left at home, a 0-0 would have been a good result. 1-0 isnít much worst, and should be easily retrievable with Adebayor hopefully taking part. Itís just such a shame that Soldado missed such a good chance to take the lead, and perhaps change the course of the tie.

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