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UEFA Europa League

  • 30 November 2011
  • • 20:05
  • • White Hart Lane, London
  • Referee: B. Nijhuis
  • • Attendance: 26229

Tottenham 1-2 PAOK: Spurs stunned as Jermain Defoe strike is controversially ruled out in crucial Europa League tie

Tottenham 1-2 PAOK: Spurs stunned as Jermain Defoe strike is controversially ruled out in crucial Europa League tie

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Woeful opening quarter of an hour leaves host's European ambitions in doubt despite dominating tie against the 10-man Greek outfit at White Hart Lane

A dismal opening 15 minutes at White Hart Lane put Tottenham's hopes of Europa League progression in total jeopardy as the hosts were beaten 2-1 by resilient PAOK.

Early goals from Dimitris Salpingidis and Stefanos Athanasiadis gifted the Greek side the perfect start, before Luka Modric pulled one back from the spot as Kostas Stafylidis was sent off for handling on the line moments before the interval.

However, despite dominating the entire of the second half, Spurs couldn't find a breakthrough in a disjointed performance that vividly contrasted the fluency with which they have recently impressed.

The result leaves Spurs third in Group A of the Europa League behind PAOK and Rubin Kazan, reliant upon a swing in results that will see them win big against Shamrock, with the Russians also failing to pick up a draw, in order to reach the knockout stages of the tournament.

The hosts drafted in Aaron Lennon, Modric, Jermain Defoe and William Gallas amongst others, in a move that belied previous team selection, as well as the belief that advancement to the Europa League knockout stage is of minimal interest to Harry Redknapp.

However it was the new look back four that rapidly became the root of Spurs' problems, as the buoyant mood at White Hart Lane quickly turned sour after an ill-advised William Gallas attempt to dribble out from the back. The recalled Frenchman was pickpocketed by Giorgos Georgiadis in the first five minutes, with the wide man crossing for the totally unmarked Salpingidis to stoop and head home.

Spurs' lacklustre start was compounded in the 13th minute as Vedran Corluka was the next in line to be embarrassed by Georgiadis, with the winger skinning the right back before sliding in an excellent cross that Athanasiadis fired beyond Heurelho Gomes.

The leak was plugged from there on as Spurs established a foothold in the game, with Defoe testing Kostas Chalkias with a rasping drive from distance, with the resulting corner proving pivotal in the game’s narrative.

Kostas Stafylidis got himself between Corluka’s goalbound header and the net, though his attempt to deny Harry Kane’s follow up saw the ball strike his hand, and the left-back was given his marching orders before Modric coolly dispatched the spot-kick five minutes before the interval.

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Clear beneficiaries of the space afforded by the extra man, Spurs started the second half as the game’s dominant force and never let up from there, with the visitors wedging 10 men behind the ball. Gallas netted, but from an offside position before Kane nodded wide as the goal gaped in the opening exchanges.

Steven Pienaar fluffed his lines in front of goal as Spurs continued to press, and Jake Livermore flashed one wide as Gareth Bale, Kyle Walker and Iago Falque were brought on to further aid the effort for an equaliser.

Despite dominating possession Spurs still found it difficult to craft clear cut chances before they were arguably denied a legitimate goal when the injured Pablo Contreras played Defoe onside as he turned the ball into the net before the referee saw fit to disallow the goal.

The defender had been challenged heavily by the striker, but with the referee seemingly allowing play to continue, he played Defoe onside as the Spurs man passed the ball beyond the reach of Chalkia. With Tottenham celebrating, the goal was chalked-off to the dismay of the White Hart Lane faithful.

The game ended with one-way traffic though the breakthrough never came for Redknapp's side, meaning that with just Shamrock Rovers to face next, the result leaves Spurs dependent upon a big win in Ireland, on top of hoping that Rubin Kazan fail to secure a point in Greece.

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