Having taken the lead before we knew what was happening in this first
leg in Sevilla, it was then a blow to be undone by a slack refereeing
decision that paved the way to take a 2-1 lead into the game at White
Hart Lane next week.
With a start
that saw Spurs comfortably stroking the ball about and creating two
chances inside the opening two minutes, you might have thought we were
the home side. Berbatov and Keane linked neatly in the first
attack and as a ball was played forward, appeals for handball went up
from the Tottenham strikers. No penalty was the decision, but
moments later, Lee played the ball in from the left to Berbatov, who
lazily slipped it through the square defence for Robbie to run onto it
in the box. His first effort was blocked as the keeper closed him
down, but fortune favoured the Irishman and he got the bounce of the
ball to go on and steady himself before passing the ball left-footed
into the vacant net to put Spurs ahead after just 68 seconds.
It was a great start and for about ten
minutes Spurs looked like they would stroll through this match, which
looked unlikely when the draw was made. Perhaps we should have
seen the signs of what was to come, as the ref from Luxembourg started
to give a procession of free-kicks to the home side for any contact at
all. Berbatov and Tainio were the most culpable in the official's
eyes, as every time they jumped for a ball, it resulted in a foul
Neither side was really threatening until
around the quarter of an hour mark, when Berbatov cut inside and
thrashed a shot that flew well wide. From the goal-kick, the ball
travelled up to the Spurs goal and Paul Stalteri headed the ball back to
Robinson, but it hit Dawson and fell for Adriano to seize on and as he
tried to take it around the Spurs goalie, he fell under the challenge.
To most onlookers, it appeared that ENO had got two hands on the ball
and the midfielder fell over his arms as the ball travelled away from
him. However, the ref pointed straight to the spot and Spurs had
to face a penalty from ex-Tottenham forward Fredi Kanoute. Perhaps
it was fate that decreed that Kanoute would score against us, as he
coolly sent Robbo the wrong way before slowly passing the ball into the
net, but in such a cruel way was not in the plan.
The booking that Robinson picked up for
dissent at the decision summed up the frustration of the team. It
is hard enough coming to the home of the current holders, but when the
ref clearly gives a crap decision, then it is hard to take. It
rattled the side and Sevilla had their best period of the game following
Spurs tried to hit back straight away
with Keane pulling a save out of Palop from a 12 yard snap-shot, but
most of the play headed towards the Tottenham goal. Many balls
that were played in came from the string of free-kicks, but luckily,
most were unable to beat the first man in the area and were cleared.
Jenas and Navas exchanged shots, with David earning a booking for
callously pulling down Lennon on the one occasion in the half when he
got away from his marker. Tainio soon picked up a yellow card for
With the play moving to the Spurs end,
Chimbonda cleared a cross for a corner. As it was swung in, the
ball went up in the air to the far post, where Dawson tried to head
clear, but the ball went up in the air and Escude nodded the ball back
into the danger area. As it flew into the six yard box, Karkahzov
stooped to twist and head the ball wide of Robbo and in to put the home
side into the lead on 35 minutes.
Spurs had a great chance on 38 minutes,
when Young-Pyo Lee, who had another good game, was going nowhere in the
left hand corner of the pitch at the Sevilla end and was fouled.
Jenas played the ball across with pace from the free-kick and stealing
in behind everyone, Michael Dawson crouched to head the ball as it went
to the far post, where he got a good head on it, but it went wide of the
While Sevilla had the bulk of the play at
this stage of the game, they only had one more shot from Karkhazov to
show for it as he cut in from the left to fire a powerful shot on goal
that dipped just too late and flew a foot over the top. Tottenham
did well to work hard and stifle the threat from Alves on the right and
Kanoute up front. With Chimbonda having to play at centre-half, it
was always going to be a "best fit" team, but Pascal did well with his
tackles and while he had problems against the taller Malian
international in the air, he always put in a jump to let Kanoute know he
Turning around one down was a
disappointment, but more so was the trouble in the Tottenham sector,
which saw Spanish police steaming in with batons flailing. There
has been little trouble at any of the Tottenham games abroad this season
and it was therefore surprising that it was in evidence at this game.
Some looked like it was just pushing and shoving with the police, but
there were seats thrown and some fans needed medical attention for
wounds sustained from the police's attacks.
On the pitch, the second half started
with more physical contact, as Young-Pyo Lee got a caution for going in
studs up on Alves, who got kicked in the ankle after Lee had played the
ball and the Brazilian lay on the floor holding his shin up near his
knee !! Zokora followed his colleague into the book seven minutes
later, as he tripped Navas as he ran past him.
The opening exchanges of the second half
were untidy and with the hour mark approaching Tottenham started to pass
the ball better and created a shooting opportunity for Keane, but he put
his effort wide of the right hand post. Kanoute ran onto a low
ball into the area from the left, but Lee's attention was enough to
force him into an early shot that went wide and Tottenham were awarded a
free-kick thirty yards out, which Jenas took and cleared the netting
behind the Sevilla goal !!
With about 25 minutes remaining in the
game, Sevilla had started making substitutions and appeared to be
settling for the 2-1 win. This allowed Tottenham to push forward,
as the pressure was no longer on our midfield to track back nor on the
defence to tie up the forwards, who dropped deeper. With this
new-found freedom, the pressure was going towards the home goal.
Malbranque and Ghaly came on for Lennon and Tainio, while Zokora (our
new Freund) hit a shot wide under pressure and a good move gave Steed a
shooting opportunity from just inside the box, but he rushed it and shot
into the ground and wide with five minutes left.
With Sevilla now conceding free-kicks, it
was their turn to face balls played into their area. One bounced
around and Tottenham players stood claiming a handball when they might
have been better off trying to latch onto the loose ball that was there
to be had in the penalty box.
At the final whistle, it was a strange
feeling. Having lost and lost our unbeaten record in this year's
competition, it felt odd, but with the away goal and a narrow defeat,
perhaps the second leg will be more of a one-off game than the second
leg for Tottenham. Sevilla will want to cancel out our away goal
with one of their own, so might leave space to be attacked, but Spurs
must make sure they do not leave holes for the Spanish side to make the
it will be an intriguing match and one
which will pit Jol's wits against those of a shrewd Ramos. It may
be the braver who wins.