Tottenham Hotspur fell to a slender 1-0 defeat against Rubin Kazan thanks to a super free-kick from Bibras Natcho. The Londoners fielded an irregular starting 11 and the gamble failed to pay off as the Russian Premier League side leapfrog their English opponent’s into second place in the group. Tottenham’s stats tell a sorry story as they slumped to whimper of a defeat during a rich vein of form for the club.
Only Sebastien Bassong retained his place in the line-up from their 3-1 win over QPR at the weekend. However, the White Hart Lane outfit made the better start as they kept possession well in the opening exchanges. But the hosts’ defence never relented to the Spurs attack as their resolute defence would lay the foundations of this victory. Eventually after frustrating Tottenham’s positive opening, it was Rubin’s turn to attack.
Kasaev was the first man to have an attempt on Carlo Cudini in the visitors’ goal as his volley signaled what the Italian custodian was to face for the remainder of the game. A succession of decent efforts from the home side though Christian Noboa, Salvatore Bocchetti and Natkho brought out the best in Cudicini as his unconvincing defence illustrated their rustiness by continually being cut open by the Russians.
Kasaev created the best opportunity of the first-half when his inch-perfect cross found Obafemi Martins but the ex-Inter Milan striker contrived totally miss the ball as the score remained 0-0 heading into the interval.
However it took the home side just 10 minutes after half-time to break the deadlock. Bassong gave away a free-kick on the edge of the area and Natcho punished the French defender in emphatic fashion to give the Russian outfit a 1-0 lead. The midfielder stepped up and curled his set-piece into Cudicini’s bottom-right corner as the entire Spurs team looked on at the perfectly-placed shot.
Defoe and Pavlychenko tried to respond for the under-strength guests but they simply could not unlock a stubborn Rubin rearguard. Shots from Ryazantsev and Karadeniz brought out fine saves from the Spurs shot-stopper and the former also clipped the crossbar during a period of sustained pressure from the Russians as they looked to extend their smallest of leads.
Nelson Valdez came off the bench to try and make it 2-0 but he was also denied by the inspired Cudicini as the ex-Chelsea goalkeeper will be hoping to Brad Friedel as first choice number one at the club with his latest solid display in goal.
The game finished 1-0 despite the dominance of the home side as Spurs’ lack of a cutting edge and naïve defending at times was ultimately punished. Harry Redknapp’s team are now third place after this defeat. PAOK beat Shamrock Rovers in the other fixture of the group and they occupy top spot with Rubin Kazan in second as the English team have a fight on their hands to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
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