OPPONENTS AEL Limassol (Cyprus)
COMPETITION Europa League Play Off First Leg
DATE Thursday 21st August 2014
VENUE Antonis Papadopolous Stadium, Larnaca






With little knowledge about AEL Limassol other than AVB's comments that they are very organised and hard to break down having beaten Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 in Cyprus in the CHhampions League qualifier, this preview is brief in the extreme.

I do know that one of their better players, Edu Oriol has left to join Blackpool and his brother who signed for the Seasiders from Osasuna. 

Among the squad remaining, there is a heavy loading of Portuguese and Brazilian players, with a few home grown members of the squad alongside Polish, Guinee-Bissau, Venezuela, Spanish, Italian and Moroccan players.  My favourite is the Spanish keeper Pulpo.

Spurs will need to bring some sort of result back from Cyprus, which will allow Poch to try out other players in the second leg.  Vorm might make his debut and we could see the quartet of World Cup players who did not feature at Upton Park on Saturday, with a change here and there to give players match time in the side.

While Zenit struggled, I expect Spurs to come through this with an away win, but after Saturday's performance, it may bear similar hallmarks to a team finding their feet under a new system.

PREDICTION AEL Limassol    0         Tottenham Hotspur    2
Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Paulinho all join the squad for this match in Cyprus.  However, Kyle Walker (pelvis) and Vlad Chiriches (back), while Michel Vorm is still getting match fit and is not yet ready to feature.  Emmanuel Adebayor, Christian Eriksen, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon and Etienne Capouehave not flown out to the tie.


For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152  (live coverage)
Commentary may be found on
>   BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW
TalkSport (DAB or 1089 MW)
Absolute Radio  (1215 AM/MW)

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne)
SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney) 
Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa 
SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) 
Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

AEL Limassol  1 (1)                                                                          Tottenham Hotspur  2 (0)
Europa League
Thursday 21st August 2014                                                                                                          Kick off 17:00 (UK time)
Antonis Papadopolous Stadium, Larnaca
Sardinero  14m 42s
Soldado  74m 24s
Kane  80m 28s
Cadu (foul on Kane) 39



Holtby (dissent)  36    
Soldado (foul on )  58 
Davies (foul on )  86


Crowd :   , Weather :  Very warm (30C)
Referee :  Manuel De Sousa (POR) Assistant Referees :  Ricardo Santos; Tiago Rocha (POR)
Fourth Official :  Hugo Miguel (POR) -
Spurs kicked off the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 3 minutes
AEL Limassol : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Karim FEGROUCHE

  4  Valentinos SIELIS
23  Soares Tavares CARLITOS
50  Ferreira De Sousa CADU     
19  Lacerda da Silva EDMAR

33  Diallo GUIDILEYE
20  Luciano Bebe Lima da SILVA
12  Marios NIKOLAOU (c)
77  Adrian SARDINERO  (11  Tavares de OLIVERA 81)

  9  Lukasz GIKIEWICZ (  7  Marco TAGBAJUMI 73)
10  Diego BARCELOS de Lima (27  George ELFTHERIOU 67)

Unused subs: 
  Andres Romero PULPO
44  Joshua NADEAU
  8  Andreas STAVROU
  2  Jonathan ESPANA

    1  Hugo LLORIS (c)

15  Eric DIER
33  Ben DAVIES      

17  Andros TOWNSEND  (11  Erik LAMELA 72)
  8  PAULINHO  (22  Nacer CHADLI 59)
42  Nabil BENTALEB
14  Lewis HOLTBY 
     (19  Mousa DEMBELE 66)

18  Harry KANE 
  9  Roberto SOLDADO      

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

  3  Danny ROSE
20  Michael DAWSON

Manager :  Ivaylo Petev Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Cytavision Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Puma Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Spurs overcame difficult opposition in hot conditions to take a 2-1 lead back to White Hart Lane from their trip to Larnaca where they met AEL Limassol.  However, there were a few moments of discomfort which didn't come from the high temperatures, but with slackness borne of players not quite up to scratch in this early part of the English season.

In the heat of the early evening of Cyprus, this match wasn't even being televised in the UK and the wonderful new MySpurs match commentary was thinking endlessly about whether it was going to tell us what was happening, so this report of based on nothing more than the text feeds on various websites and various limited highlights.  The pitch was green with grass, but appeared to be bobbly under that, which affected the passing on the surface, so when Spurs went over-ground, it improved the efficiency of their passing.

And they started well, with some confident moving and passing, with Kane being involved.  Andros Townsend's cross found him, but he couldn't bring it down before AEL keeper Fergouch intervened and  then the forward fired in a fifth minute shot from Davies' pull-back from just inside the box, which the goalie could shovel out in front of him, but, following up, Roberto Soldado could only knock it over the bar from the edge of the six yard box.  It was a disappointing finish, but he looked at his boots and the pitch (don't they always) to indicate that he felt there was a bobble that affected his shot.  Holtby was busy in midfield and took a return pass from Paulinho to drag his shot wide, then Kane was in the game again, hitting a 25 yard shot over the bar.

With Spurs looking in control, they got a little bit over-confident and played a short pass to Paulinho, 15 yards inside their own half, which was picked off by Sardinero, who burst forward through a flat back four line and struck a low shot past Lloris as he came out to close the forward down.  14 minutes into our European campaign and we were 0-1 down to the team who finished second in the Cypriot league !!  It was a well-taken goal and showed Spurs that they should not be complacent with what appears on the surface to be lesser opposition.

Spurs did slip back into their attacking groove, with Davies finding space on the left and Kane forcing another sprawling save from Fegrouche, who almost pulled the ball back in front of goal with Soldado sniffing around, but managed to gather it in before the Spaniard got there.  The home side were not sitting back, but failed to trouble Lloris much more, with a free-kick into the wall and a header over the top, only calling him into action with a low cross that he fell on.  Our captain for the day needed to be on his toes when the AEL goal-scorer burst into the right hand corner of our box, with Hugo darting out to almost the edge of the are to block his shot in the 33rd minute.

Little else happened in the half, other than each team picking up a yellow card and the half-time break would have given Poch an opportunity to re-organise the side with the players getting a chance to get out of the heat.  The side came out for the second half without change and found AEL keen to add to their score, with an attack seeing Vertonghen block a shot from Barcelos and then Naughton doing the same to Guidileye's follow-up.  Five minutes into the second half, Carlitos hit a low shot into the side netting after being slipped through by Barcelos.

While Andros Townsend was lively on the wing, his final ball was lacking and when he got away down the right in the 52nd minute, his cross took a deflection from out wide and the ball looped onto the top of the bar and to for a goal-kick.  Harry Kane was still trying his luck and when he drove a shot in from the edge of the box in the 71st minute, after Soldado had headed down substitute Nacer Chadli's cross, the Spurs youngster's effort was just about touched by Fegrouche, which was enough to direct it onto the underside of the bar and bounce out to safety.

With changes made on both sides, the game had stuttered through a fifteen minute period, but the entrance of Erik Lamela seemed to make the defining difference for Tottenham.  He got on the ball from the moment he came on for Townsend and within a minute, he had chipped a pass from the left of centre 25 yards out, over the last AEL man for Roberto Soldado to hit a fine and firm volley as he stretched forward just outside the six yard box, which left the keeper with no chance.  It was a classy finish and one I hope inspires Soldado, as he is a fine gaol-scorer when given the right ammunition.

So, a draw was what Pochettino would have been happy with before the game, butt hat got even better in the 80th minute, when Lamela ran down the middle and slipped a pass to his left, where Kane got to it ahead of a defender and shifted it out of his feet enough to shoot powerfully into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area, leaving Fegrouche grasping at thin air.

Although the game was played in 30 degree heat and it comes early in the season for Spurs, the one thing that shone through was the way that they kept going to the end and the fitness of the players.  When Kane played  a ball wide left to Chadli, Lamela was in the box to hit a falling shot just wide and then tried his luck from a narrow angle on the left, but the keeper blocked his shot.  The defence were not unduly troubled, with a sole block at his near post as Lloris kept out Tagbajumi with about 11 minutes left.

Slightly worrying that we had gone behind, but a professional performance and one better than AVB's Zenit St. Petersburg, who had lost there 0-1 in the Champions League qualifier already this season.  Handy to have two away goals and a win to go back to the Lane with, but lessons need to be learned for coming matches against stronger sides.

At the end of the match, which might not have been the greatest performance by Spurs, the stats showed Spurs were more attacking with more shots, so in boxing terms, they would have won on points, but the two goals were taken well, while AEL did well to capitalise eon some sloppy play in the first half, so it probably ended up being a fair result.  However, it does indicate that Spurs need to be on their mettle in the second leg, as there will be a sizeable support for AEL in London from the Cypriot community to cheer them on.

Aiderby Quernhow



AEL Limassol were originally named after their first sponsors LIM Aerosols, but after the antiperspirant company withdrew their backing, the club rearranged their letters to form their current name.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this round of play-off ties :
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) 2 Hajduk Split (CRO) 1 Wednesday
Stjarnan (ICE) 0 Internazionale (ITA) 3 Wednesday
Aktobe (KAZ) 0 Legia Warsaw (POL) 1 Thursday
Apollon (CYP) 1 Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 1 Thursday
Astana (KAZ) 0 Villarreal (SPA) 3 Thursday
Asteras (GRE) 2 Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR) 0 Thursday
Dinamo Minsk (BEL) 2 Nacional (POR) 0 Thursday
Dinamo Moscow (RUS) 2 Omonia (CYP) 2 Thursday
Elfsborg (SWE) 1 Rio Ave (POR) 1 Thursday
Grasshoppers (SWI) 1 Club Brugge (BEL) 2 Thursday
HJK (FIN) 2 Rapid Vienna (AUS) 1 Thursday
Karabukspor (TUR) 1 St. Etienne (FRA) 0 Thursday
Lokeren (BEL) 1 Hull City 0 Thursday
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) 1 Astra (ROM) 2 Thursday
Panathinaikos (GRE) 4 Midtjylland (DEN) 1 Thursday
Partizan Belgrade (SER) 3 Neftci PFK (AZE) 2 Thursday
Petroul (ROM) 1 Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 3 Thursday
PSV Eindhoven (HOL) 1 FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BEL) 0 Thursday
Qarabag (AZE) 0 FC Twente Enschede (HOL) 0 Thursday
Real Sociedad (SPA) 1 FC Krasnodar (RUS) 0 Thursday
HNK Rijeka (SLO) 1 FC Sheriff Tirsapol (MOL) 0 Thursday
Ruch Chorzow (POL) 0 Metalist Kharkiv (UKR) 0 Thursday
FK Sarajevo (BOS) 2 Borussia Moenchengladbach (GER) 3 Thursday
RNK Split (CRO) 0 Torino (ITA) 0 Thursday
Spartak Trnava (SVK) 1 FC Zurich (SWI) 3 Thursday
Trabzonspor (TUR) 2 Rostov (RUS) 0 Thursday
Young Boys Bern (SWI) 3 Debrecen (HUN) 1 Thursday
Zorya (UKR) 1 Feyenoord (HOL) 1 Thursday
Zwolle (Ned) 1 Sparta Prague (CZE) 1 Thursday
FC Zimbru Chisinau (MOL) 1 PAOK (GRE) 0 Thursday


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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