(Modric – 39 (Pen))
(Salpingidis – 6, Athanasiadis – 13)
(Stafylidis s/o 39)
Tottenham suffered a rare home defeat to Greek outfit PAOK and are now on the brink of exiting the Europa League.
Harry Redknapp made nine changes from the side that defeated West Bromwich Albion 3-1, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon both surviving the managers chances while Luka Modric was re-instated to the starting XI after recovering from illness.
But, it was the Group A leaders who took the lead after just six minutes, Giorgos Georgiadis robbing William Gallas of possession before crossing for the un-marked Dimitris Salpingidis to head home past the static Heurelho Gomes.
The Brazilian, making a rare start, saved well from Georgios Fotakis but the Greek side doubled their advantage as the game approached the 15 minute mark.
Pablo Garcia did well to release Georgiadis down the right flank before his low ball found Stefanos Athanasiadis too easily tap home after some sloppy marking from Sebastien Bassong.
The two goal deficit appeared to spur the home-side into life and it wasn’t long before the North London giants began to claw their way back into the game.
Harry Kane fired wide after good work by Steven Pienaar while Defoe forced a good save from Kostas Chalkias but it wasn’t until the 39th minutes that Spurs were handed a way back into the game.
The resulting corner from Defoe’s effort was headed goal-bound by Vedran Corluka but, having been blocked, fell to Kane but his shot was handled on the line by Kostas Stafylidis and the ref had no choice but to point to the spot and red-card the 17-year-old.
Modric comfortably tucked away the resulting penalty and, having gone down to ten-men, the game began to swing back in Spurs’ favour.
Defoe had the ball in the net early in the second half but it was ruled off for offside, Kane headed over after some good work from Danny Rose while Pienaar dragged his effort wide of the post as Spurs began to take control of the match.
Redknapp threw Kyle Walker and Gareth Bale into the fold as the home side looked to draw level, the latter lashing over while Kane came close to turning the former’s cross in.
Defoe had the ball in the back of the PAOK net for the second time of the night but it was controversially ruled out by the officials.
Substitute Iago Falque’s drilled effort was well kept out by Pablo Contreras and with Defoe charging down on goal for the rebound, the same player did well to poke the ball away, becoming injured in the process.
Being down on the goal-line, play continued and the ball again fell to Defoe for the England man to poke home only for it to be ruled out for, what appeared to be, the initial foul on Contreras.
Spurs continued to press for the equaliser as Defoe, Falque and Bale all tested the PAOK goalkeeper but it wasn’t enough as the Greek outfit held on for a historic win that saw them qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa league and leave the North London side on the brink of an early exit from the competition.
What Redknapp had to say.
“It was a different team and it is hard when you make a lot of changes,” Redknapp said.
“Look at what happened to Manchester United, they lost. It happens all the time.
“We have been lucky so far and the important thing is that we have the player’s fresh for the Premier League at the weekend.
“We have changed the team in this competition and that is why we have done so well in the league, where we have won nine and drawn one in our last 10 games.
“If we had Roman Pavlyuchenko and Giovani Dos Santos fit, we would not have played Luka Modric, Jermain Defoe or Aaron Lennon.”
Man of the Match
No real stand-out candidates for our man of the match, Harry Kane did well but just couldn’t find the back of the net while Luka Modric’s effort to dictate the play from the middle didn’t work to full effect on the night. Substitutes Gareth Bale and Iago Falque looked the most likely to make a difference from the bench but it wasn’t enough to draw level on the night.
Talking point of the match PT. 1
Jermain Defoe’s apparent equaliser looked legitimate enough at first viewing, despite a player injured on the line. However, his effort was chalked off due to the initial challenge on Pablo Contreras, much to the confusion of the fans both at White Hart Lane and watching at home.
Talking point of the match PT. 2
Spurs’ fringe players didn’t look at all at the races last night. Cumbersome, lethargic and lacking any kind of cohesion was evident in both the defensive third and the final one. It is worrying to think that if any of our league starting XI were injured or suspended, that a number of the starters last night would be called in to replace them.