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Apoel v Spurs (UEFA Youth League), 26.09.17
Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List.

    UEFA Champions U-19 League, Gp.H, 2017-18
         Makario Stadium, Nicosia, Cyprus
         Tuesday 26th September 2017, 4pm

          APOEL FC      v     SPURS
        (All Yellow)       (All White)

            1(1)               0(0)

APOEL:- Paraskevas(GK); Sokratous, Karayiannia, Adoni, Stylianides, Andreou(C)( Polikarpou 86), Grubac, Okkaridis, Papadopoulos(Veletinas 28), Papoutso, Naoum(Charalambous 66)

Unused Subs:- Priniotaki, Scottis, Koukos, Kouppis

Scorer: Karayiannia 23

Booked: Paraskevas 87, Adoni 90+3

Spurs (4-1-4-1): De Bie; Eyoma, Skipp, Tanganga, Brown(Dinzeyi 87); Marsh; Edwards(C), Roles(Griffiths 72), S. Shashoua, Bennetts, Sterling

Unused Subs:- Austin; Lyons-Foster, Omolabi, A. Shashoua, C. Maghoma

Referee: Stefan Apostolov(Bul)

It was a hot sunny afternoon for the second group match which saw a water break in both halves and which may have dictated the way Spurs played. Spurs came here having won their opening game against Borussia Dortmund 4-0 while APOEL suffered a 10-0 drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid. After a bad result APOEL had a reason to do better. That previous score might have also put into the minds of their next opponents that it would be a walk-over and they do not need to try to hard. The venue itself was a sports stadium in the west of the city that meant the view from my position was a long way from the pitch and I had left my binoculars behind.

Spurs lined up with De Bie in goal behind Tanganga and Skipp with Eyoma at right back and Brown on the left. Marsh anchored the midfield with Cypriot youth international Roles and Samuel Shashoua ahead of him flanked by captain Edwards on the right and Bennetts on the left in support of Sterling up front.

Spurs defended the North end in the first half which saw them on the attack for most of the game pushing forward against a determined and deep defence. The home defence was well marshalled and protected their goal so well that it was fifteen minutes before Spurs' first chance which saw a shot by Roles fly over the bar. Shashoua played in Sterling for a chance that was blocked and Bennetts fired over.

Spurs were taking their time moving the ball around looking for gaps that were never there until the defining moment of the game. Edwards was takled in the centre circle and as he went down he grabbed the ball as he expected to get a free kick. The referee gave it the other way for handball. The kick was floated to the far side of the area where Tanganga was penalised jumping with Grubac. Karayiannia took the free kick and curled it over the wall inside the near post. De Bie got a hand to it but could not prevent the goal.

Spurs continued to dominate possession knowing that they would get chances in the game. Frontman Grubac had to go off and after the first water break Tanganga fired wide from a corner. With the players moving further forward as APOEL defended deeper there was always the likelihood of a break. Okkaridis made a break down the right and was able to get a shot in that De Bie saved at his near post. As Spurs continued to look for an opening Adoni came out with the ball firing over from long range. In added time Sterling did have a shot that Paraskevas saved.

The second half continued with Spurs having the majority of possession and the home side dropping deep to defend their lead. In fact they hardly left their own half as balls cleared into the Spurs half were seldom chased. There was little sign of urgency from Spurs as they continued to move the ball around. Sterling headed over from a corner and Bennetts fired wide when Edwards played him in. Sterling tried to tee up Roles but his effort was blocked.

Spurs finally made a change sending on a second striker in the shape of Griffiths for Roles. After the water break the home side came out of their half and looked as if they wanted a second goal before dropping back into their own half to continue to frustrate Spurs. So many home players went down to waste precious time that the referee began telling them to get up. One player stayed down until Spurs lost possession before jumping up and making himself available to receive the ball.

Spurs' second change was to take off Brown and send on Dinzeyi as a striker. This meant that they went to three at the back with Marsh swapping places with Skipp. With time running out, Paraskevas was booked for time-wasting but when the ball fell to Dinzeyi in the area the keeper saved. In added time APOEL won a free kick deep in the Spurs half which was taken by Adoni and hit well over. He was also booked for wasting time.

It must be said that APOEL deserved their first ever win as they defended very well not giving many chances to Spurs. But I was disappointed that Spurs could not do more against such a limited team. They have so much creative skill in the midfield that I expected more chances to test the keeper. Having said that Madrid lost 5-3 at Dortmund so all teams are now on three points and the group is still wide open. Spurs travel to Spain next month to play Madrid at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium in a game which will be most likely more open.


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