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Youngsters secure away point

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PAOK 0 Tottenham 0

A much changed Tottenham line-up secured a point away at PAOK in the opening group stage encounter of the Europa League.

Manager Harry Redknapp opted for a more youthful line-up than the side that took all three points away at Wolves last weekend, with only Kyle Walker starting both matches.

The home set of fans ensured it was to be an intimidating atmosphere for Spurs, whose average age for the starting XI was only 23.

However, the youngsters gave a good account of themselves and could have taken the lead after 11 minutes after Jake Livermore avoided two challenges before cutting back to debutant Yago Falque who saw his effort cleared off the line by Pablo Contreas. 

At the other end, Vieirinha saw his goal-bound effort deflected over for a corner six minutes later but the turning point of the half was to come after 27 minutes.

After a well worked passage of play, Harry Kane, making only his second senior start for Spurs, went down for what seemed like a stone-wall penalty, only for the referee to think differently and book the youngster for diving. 

A penalty was awarded three minutes later, however, when PAOK striker Stefanos Athanasiadis was caught by Carlo Cudicini, deputising for the ineligible Brad Friedel. 

Cudicini was booked and while Lino netted his first effort, a re-take was ordered and the same player sent his effort wide.

Roman Pavlyuchenko then saw a free-kick narrowly miss the target by inches before hitting another effort, after some good work from Falque, over.

The Russian international then rounded PAOK goalkeeper Dario Kresic, who had rushed off his line, before squaring to Falque who put his effort wide after 55 minutes.

Pavlyuchenko again saw another free-kick miss the target while at the other end, a sweeping ball from Salpingidis was fired over by Athanasiadis.

PAOK began to assert themselves towards in the dying embers of the game and Cudicini was on hand to deny efforts from Athanasiadis, Vieirinha and Vladimir Ivic before the same player hit the bar in the final moments of the encounter. 

Despite the late pressure, the youngsters held out for a hard earned draw which will stand the team in good stead for the remainder of the group stage.

Following the 0-0 draw, Redknapp has this to say:

“I was pleased with performance, particularly in the first half. We kept the ball well.

“That was an intimidating atmosphere out there tonight. It was fantastic. You don’t get that in many places in the world.

“The fans were incredible and they get behind their team.

“The young players have never seen that before and it must have been a difficult experience for them, but I thought they coped very well.”

Redknapp also singled out praise for Tom Carroll, who made only his second senior appearance in the match, before claiming his side were unlucky not to have a first half penalty when Kane went down under the challenge of Contreas.

“I thought young Tom Carroll did well in midfield.

“He’s only a slight little boy but he’s a lovely footballer – he works hard and has a great attitude. But they all did well.

“I thought it was a penalty. I’ve seen a replay. It was a foul,” he continued.

“He wouldn’t go down – it was very harsh to book him. It was a penalty.”

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