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FC Sheriff v Spurs, 24.10.13

Match Three

Vertonghen, 12
Defoe, 75

Attendance:- 14,300

Referee:- Liran Liany (ISR)
Assistants:- Shabtai Nahmias (ISR) , David Elias Biton (ISR)
Additional assistants:- Menashe Masiah (ISR) , Daniel Bar Natan (ISR)
Fourth official:- Oren Borneshtain (ISR)

FC Sheriff (4-2-3-1):- Tomic; Balima, Metoua, Samardzic (Capt.), Paye; Moyal (sub Furdui, 70), Stanojevic; Ricardinho, Kadu (sub Fernando, 84), Henrique Luvannor; Isa (sub Paireli, 88)

Subs not used:- Stajila; Scripcenco, William Celestino; A. Pascenco

Booked:- Moyal (foul on Lamela)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Vertonghen (Capt.), Fryers (sub Dawson, 34); Dembele, Sandro (sub Holtby, 76); Lennon, Eriksen, Lamela (sub Chadli, 61); Defoe

Subs not used:- Friedel; Sigurdsson; Adebayor, Soldado

Booked:- Chiriches (foul on Luvannor)

N.B:- Dawson took the Captain’s armband when he replaced Fryers.
FC Sheriff’s name are recorded in various fashions, and I have quoted them as displayed upon their shirts.

Job done but not much fun.

Spurs have all but qualified from Group K after just three games, with three wins, seven goals with none conceded, and nine points, five above Anzhi, who as expected did beat Tromso in today’s match. Spurs are therefore hot favourites to not only qualify, but to win their group, and ensure favourable treatment in the draw for the knock out phase of the competition. Andre Villas-Boas left Andros Townsend, Paulinho and Kyle Walker at home, whilst other players such as Kaboul, Capoue and Rose, are not yet available due to injury.

Spurs scored a goal in each half, with captain on the night Jan Vertonghen heading in Christian Eriksen’s 12th minute cross, following Lamela’s short corner, and Jermain Defoe making a claim for the match headlines with a fine 75th minute 25 yarder, which puts him level with Martin Chivers as Spurs’ record goalscorer in European competition.

Success in this game was not comfortable though for Spurs, who endured several close shaves and at least two occasions when the home side not only could, but should have scored. I discount the disallowed “goal” after 29 minutes by the Bulgarian striker Ismail Isa, because the flag had clearly been raised before the ball was fired into the net. There were other occasions when the Moldovan side (with no Moldovans in the starting line-up) should have been flagged offside, but the fact is that Spurs did allow them too many opportunities.

Veaceslav Rusnac’s side was well drilled, and somehow able to pressurise Spurs all over the pitch, finding numbers for attack and defence, closing Spurs down in their half. Spurs had hardly even got into the final third before they went one up. FC Sheriff had three Brazilians behind the striker, each of which offered real threats to the Spurs defence, which had to be re-shuffled after Zeki Fryers suffered a groin injury after only half an hour. Chiriches, who had made a great defensive save, when Lloris had been rounded, was moved to right back, and after that, he was often guilty of wasting the ball. Chiriches should not be singled out on this score though, as too many Spurs players were guilty of failing to make the most of possession.

Lamela was given a start, but withdrawn after an hour, during which he sadly made little impression, and at present, he does not justify the record fee we have paid for his services. Lamela’s lightning quick ball for Paulinho’s added time winner at Cardiff is the one contribution so far this season which stands out for me.

The home side probed Spurs from the start, testing the high line with long balls, winning the reward of early corners. Chiriches did show great skill in his own half, with a trick to chip the ball over an opponent, before sending it on to Eriksen, who then fed the ball to Lennon, who won a corner. Lennon started on the right, but would switch with Lamela on different occasions during the game. Spurs took that lead through Vertonghen’s headed goal, which quietened the home crowd, making plenty of Vuvuzela type noise.

Spurs were soon under some pressure though, with no offside flag shown for Luvannor, who went round the advancing Lloris, hitting his shot towards goal, only to see Chiriches covering superbly with a sliding and stretching clearance in front of goal for a corner. A few minutes later, Spurs wanted an offside flag, but didn’t get it, as Moyal got a shot from a central area, which passed wide.

After a long ball down the middle by Sandro, and a clever flick by Eriksen, Aaron Lennon was in front of goal, just inside the area, hitting his shot across the goalkeeper. Tomic saved with his back leg, and the ball ran clear. After Isa’s disallowed effort, Chiriches was guilty of a failure to intercept a ball to Isa, who fired wide across goal from the left. After 35 minutes, Naughton and Lennon combined on the left, and Naughton passed inside to Defoe, who had his first clear cut chance on goal, hitting the shot over the bar.

A quick free kick by Sheriff nearly caught Spurs out. Isa received the ball towards the right of the area, and the defence failed to stop his ball reaching Luvannor, who thankfully fired over. Chiriches got forward and passed inside for Eriksen who chipped a neat ball over the defence, but Defoe could only knock the ball on, rather than find a shot.

After the break, and a slow start to the second half Spurs moved the ball from the left to Eriksen, who spread the play to Lamela on the right. Sadly, his ball back inside was behind any team-mate. A couple of minutes later, Spurs broke from the back with Sandro feeding Eriksen. Eriksen found Defoe towards the left of the area, but the shot was easy for goalkeeper Tomic. Lennon had been involved in the move, without touching the ball, making a distracting run across the front of Eriksen to his right.

Lamela was replaced by Chadli, who occupied the left hand side, whilst Lennon stuck to the right for the rest of the game. Aaron did find space centrally after 66 minutes, and forged a shooting chance, hitting a well-placed, rather than powerful shot , which beat the goalkeeper to his right, but rebounded off the post. Sheriff were not worrying Spurs so much now, but so much of Spurs build-up play was slow and tentative.

A Ricardinho shot was deflected by Dawson for a corner, and Chiriches hit a shot well over the target after more Spurs possession play. Spurs went two up, and Defoe scored that record equalling goal in the 75th minute, after Chadli made a good run inside, before feeding the ball back to Jermain who hit a great right footed shot that beat the keeper to his right. Thus Jermain reached the 22 goals in Europe mark, and within a minute he might have overtaken Chivers, with a chance that he pushed wide across the other side of goal.

Sandro was replaced by Holtby with 15 minutes to go, which tends to suggest that he will start next to Paulinho on Sunday. Holtby played deeper and hardly put a foot wrong that I could see.

Isa should have scored with ten minutes remaining, having beaten offside to receive the ball from Luvannor. The Bulgarian had the goal at his mercy, but fired wide. A Sheriff defender stumbled at the other end, allowing Holtby to feed the ball to Defoe, but he was offside.

Let’s hope that Spurs have an uneventful trip home, and don’t suffer the post Europa League blues on Sunday!

Europa League Group K
(After Matchday 3)

Pos Team    P  W  D  L  F-A  GD  Pts
1. Spurs    3  3  0  0  7-0  7    9
2. Anzhi    3  1  1  1  1-2 -1    4
3. Sheriff  3  0  2  1  1-3 -2    2
4. Tromso   3  0  1  2  1-5 -4    1

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