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Tromso v Spurs, 28.11.13

(Matchday 5)

Causevic (o.g), 63
Dembele, 75

Attendance:- 5,868

Referee:- Mr. Yevhen Aranovskiy
Assistants:- Mr. O. Voytyuk & Mr. O. Korniyko
Additional Assistants:- Mr. S. Boiko & Mr. A. Abdula
Fourth official:- Mr. V. Volodin
(All officials from Ukraine)

Tromso (Red/white striped shirts & White shorts)(4-4-1-1):- Lekstrom; Frantzen (sub Norbye, 68), Fojut, Causevic, Kristiansen; Andersen, Johansen, Bendiksen (Capt.) (sub Helmke, 76), Drage; Moldskred (sub Espejord, 71); Ondrasek

Subs not used:- Bakkelund; Antonsen, L. Johnsen, M. Johnsen

Booked:- Fojut (foul on Dembele)

Spurs (All navy blue)(4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Naughton, Dawson (Capt.), Chiriches, Fryers (sub Vertonghen, 71); Capoue, Dembele; Townsend, Chadli (sub Holtby, 72), Sigurdsson (sub Lamela, 78); Soldado

Subs not used:- Archer (56); Fredericks (43); McEvoy (47); Coulthirst (41)

Booked:- Dawson (foul on Ondrasek), Capoue (foul on Bendiksen), Soldado (foul on Bendiksen)

Uninspiring, but Spurs top the group

It was as expected truly Arctic conditions, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, but after struggling with the conditions, particularly in the first half in sub-zero temperatures, Spurs found their feet in the second half, and at last managed to score two goals, one of which was actually an own goal, although initially it looked as if Vlad Chiriches had converted Gylfi Sigurdssonís free kick. Mousa Dembele completed the scoring with his first goal since February in Lyon in last seasonís Europa League Round of 32. Now Spurs can go forward to the knock-out phase of this seasonís competition knowing they will be seeded and guaranteed a second leg at home.

Spurs have only conceded one goal in all seven of their Europa League games so far, and this has proved to be a competition in which they can score goals, with a total of 19. Group K has been settled before the last game is played, with Anzhi drawing at home to Sheriff, to guarantee their qualification. Spurs did take a few youngsters with them to Norway, but apart from Naughton and Fryers in the starting line-up, left the job to the experienced players, with Vertonghen, Holtby and Lamela coming on for the latter stages of the game. Andre Villas-Boas could now play some of the Development squad against Anzhi on December 12th.

There were Christmas card scenes in Tromso, with rooftops laden with snow, whilst the artificial pitch had been cleared by tractors. The game started though in falling snow, which settled on the pitch to the degree that conditions were slushy, and the ball was often held up. This gave the Spurs team problems measuring the weight of their passes. Spurs kicked off, and the second pass was actually forward, leading to a Townsend cross, which was cleared. Before the first minute was out however, Spurs had a mighty scare when Moldskred, playing in the hole, threaded a pass for Ondrasek, with skipper Michael Dawson beaten by the pass. Ondrasek hit his shot the wrong side of Friedelís post.

The two Tromso strikers worked well together and forged two or three more opportunities in the first half, with the home team successfully closing Spurs down in all areas. The Spurs players were too often slow and tentative in their movement and passing skill, and despite the fact several players had stayed at home, the form of the team does not bode well for Sundayís match. Andros Townsend saw a lot of the ball, but Soldado was often frustrated by the lack of service from his team-mates.

The 300 Spurs fans who had made the trip were vocal throughout proceedings, and the game was played in a good atmosphere. After 14 minutes, and a Spurs corner from the left, Soldado got a glancing header and Capoue tried to reach the ball at the back post, but the goalkeeper collected. Townsend was turning up on both flanks in the first half, and after he cut in from the left, and passed the ball back to Sigurdsson just outside the box, the Icelander, who may have been the Spurs player most suited to the conditions, fired over.

Vlad Chiriches started a good move with a great ball, which was controlled by Soldado, passed back to Sigurdsson, who fed it to Townsend in the middle. Sigurdsson then made a run to the right for Townsend, received the ball, and shot across goal, just wide of Lekstromís right post. Chadli chipped a ball from the left, but Soldado could not reach it. Capoue had a shot which was locked and went for a corner. Townsend tried a shot from distance, which was really no trouble for the goalkeeper. I think Spurs mobile described this effort as a ďpile-driverĒ, but it didnít really qualify as such.

Dembele hit a good ball from the centre out to Sigurdsson on the left. Siggyís deep cross was collected by Townsend, who hit a quick cross. Chadliís attempt reached the back post, but Sigurdsson was not quite able to get a good enough touch versus the keeper.

Spurs had dominated first half possession, without having anything to show for their efforts. The best chance of the half fell to Chadli, after a good ball by Sigurdsson. Nacer had time and space on the left of the box, but hit his shot miles over the target.

The news came through at half-time that Anzhi and Sheriff had drawn, so top place was guaranteed, whatever the result. There was pride to play for though. Tromso were playing their last home game of the season, with just a trip to Moldova to come, and no doubt were determined to put on a show for their fans. The tractors had cleared the pitch of any snow at the interval, and with no more snow falling, conditions had improved considerably.

Spurs though had to withstand some early pressure and frustration. Dawson was booked for a cynical foul on Ondrasek just inside the Spurs half, as the forward looked like breaking clear. Townsend crossed from the right and Soldado was unlucky because the ball bounced up onto his arm from his ankle, and his pass to Sigurdsson, who fired home was rendered invalid, because of a handball decision against the Spaniard.

Capoue got booked for a foul on the Tromso captain Bendiksen, whose free kick was held by Friedel. Soldado then got booked for a foul on the same player, after Spurs had contrived to give the ball after Friedelís save. This time Fojut headed the free kick, and Friedel held. Fojut was a persistent danger at dead ball situations.

Townsend did well against left back Kristiansen, who was literally left on the floor. Andros hit a cross to Chadli, who again was well off target. Spurs finally took the lead after Sigurdsson had won a free kick near the bye-line on the left. Siggy had been frustrated because he was getting away with the ball, but from his free kick, Chiriches challenged but it was defender Causevic who put the ball into his own net. Chiriches was initially announced as the scorer, and had celebrated the goal as his own.

After a round of substitutions, including Vertonghen and Holtby on for Fryers and Chadli, Spurs took a two goal lead through a good move from the right which featured a Holtby pass to Sigurdsson, who threaded the ball into the box, where Dembele made no mistake. Dembele had another chance within a minute, after a one-two with Soldado. His first shot was placed beyond the keeper but rebounded off the inside of the post across the goal. Mousa tried to follow up, but the situation was successfully defended.

In added time, Spurs had to survive two or three half chances for Tromso, who also had a penalty shout turned down for a Dawson challenge.

Spurs fans who had travelled could get away for Northern Lights and more Norwegian hospitality, whilst the team could make a quick getaway back to London in good time to prepare for Sundayís crucial league game against Manchester United. Whoever wears the Lilywhite and Blue on Sunday will need to show more pace, skill and endeavour against David Moyes side than we saw tonight.

Europa League Group K
(After Matchday 5)

Pos Team    P  W  D  L  F-A  GD  Pts
1. Spurs    5  5  0  0 11-1  10  15
2. Anzhi    5  2  2  1  3-3  0    8
3. Sheriff  5  0  3  2  3-6 -3    3
4. Tromso   5  0  1  4  1-8 -7    1

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