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UEFA Europa League
October 25, 2012
• Ljudski vrt, Maribor
Referee: S. Karasev
• Attendance: 10049
R. Berič 42'
G. Sigurðsson 58'
Tottenham rallied after the break, playing with greater intensity, and substitute Falque was involved for the equaliser. But after scoring, Spurs became complacent once more, struggling to break down Maribor and largely being limited to optimistic shots from range. Spurs lacked the dynamism and penetration of Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembele, and will be hoping the pair can return to the side as soon as possible.
Maribor looked the more dangerous in attack, countering well and working Lloris often. The Slovenian side's full-backs were particularly good going forward, and Ibraimi was a threat down the right. Mertelj and Cvijanovic remained conservative and restrictive in the middle of the pitch, rarely allowing Spurs the opportunity to breach the centre of defence.
FULL-TIME!! Maribor 1-1 Tottenham. Villas-Boas is still without a win in the Europa League. Beric put the hosts ahead after good work from Mejac before Sigurdsson grabbed an equaliser for Spurs.
Marcos Magno Morales Tavares
Maribor's main man Tavares is replaced by Nikola Komazec. The Brazilian was largely ineffective tonight. Far from a defensive sub, manager Milanic has brought on an out-and-out striker.
Vertonghen steps up from centre-back and Maribor fail to get out and close him down. The Belgian takes aim and launches a rasping drive from 35-yards that whizzes past Handanovic and his far post. Close!
Naughton makes an excellent challenge to halt Milec's advances down the flank. Maribor recover possession and find Tavares, who almost finds Ibraimi inside the box. Spurs yet to create anything more than a half-chance since drawing level.
Sandro, arguably Spurs best player of the night, is replaced by Jake Livermore.
Maribor are beginning to operate a little more defensively, perhaps happy to settle for a point. Tottenham continue to probe but without really testing Handanovic.
Dempsey is found in space, takes a touch and attempts an ambitious 35-yard shot. It's poorly struck and easy for Handanovic to save. The American had time, space and options there.
WHAT A CHANCE! The centre-back Rajcevic bursts forward from defence, gliding past Huddlestone and the Spurs midfield. He feeds Milec and the full-back plays a brilliant ball across the face of goal for Beric. The striker can't sort his feet out quickly enough, and the ball bounces off his shin and just wide of Lloris' post. The French keeper was scrambling, but the Maribor frontman was belatedly flagged offside.
Sigurdsson, who scored Spurs' equaliser but was otherwise disappointing, is replaced by Clint Dempsey. Villas-Boas is looking for a winner.
Yellow Card Kyle Naughton
Naughton gets forward and jinks his way into the box. He side-steps Milec and looks to have his ankles kicked by the full-back. The referee blows his whistle, but only to give Naughton a yellow card for diving. Harsh, the Maribor defender looked to have made contact with Naughton there.
Spurs have extended possession in Maribor's half before Huddlestone tries a dinked cross into the box. Falque recovers the ball and lays it off for Defoe, who takes a touch, cuts inside and fires a deflected shot into the arms of Handanovic.
Maribor still look dangerous, and Mertelj brings the ball forward before unleashing a dipping volley that Lloris catches quite easily. Both sides look capable of scoring another goal at present.
Maribor break forward with speed. Cvijanovic approaches the box before offloading to Ibraimi. The Macedonian cuts inside and fires into the side-netting. The home fans thought that had gone in.
A chance for Tottenham to go on and win the game now. Villas-Boas' introduction of Falque has helped Spurs, and he was involved heavily in the goal. Mejac, who has had a great game so far, was unlucky to see his goal-line block fall right into the path of Sigurdsson.
Goal Gylfi Sigurdsson
GOAL!! Sandro breaks forward and crosses into the box, but Maribor clear. Falque heads the weak clearance down to Sigurdsson on the edge of the box, who returns the pass to the Spaniard. Falque takes a touch and fires in a cross, which rebounds to Defoe. The striker blasts his shot towards goal but Mejac's back blocks the shot. The ball eventually falls to Sigurdsson who taps in from a yard. Game on!
Lennon, captaining the side tonight, has received the ball a lot just on the edge of the box but never got in behind the defence or beaten his man. The winger has been double, sometimes triple, marked by Maribor.
Falque is in space down the left channel and attempts a fizzing cross for Sandro at the back post, but Arghus intercepts. Maribor clear the resulting corner.
Ibraimi shuffles towards Naughton and then squares the ball for Cvijanovic who tries a speculative first time shot from 25-yards, but puts his effort over the bar.
Mejac gets forward from full-back again, playing a one-two with Mezga before prodding a ball towards Tavares inside the box. The Brazilian takes his shot first time but it's an easy save for Lloris.
Yellow Card Dejan Mezga
Walker collects Ibraimi's over-hit cross and bursts forward. Mezga manages to catch up with him before cynically bringing him down. The Croatian is booked by the referee.
Tottenham get the second half underway. Iago Falque is on in place of Townsend.
Spurs need to get Sigurdsson and Defoe into the game, and find more central penetration. Spurs don't have many options on the bench, though Clint Dempsey would be the most likely to help Spurs turn the match around, while Iago Falque could provide more craft in the middle.
The half had been rather scrappy, with neither side able to dominate, though Spurs had grown into the game as the match wore on. Then, minutes before half-time, Mejac glided past several white shirts, squared the ball over Lloris and Beric prodded it in.
HALFTIME!! Maribor go into the break with a 1-0 lead. Villas-Boas' Europa League ambitions take a huge dent, and Spurs will need a big response in the second half if they want to escape from the group.
Just when Spurs looked to have been gaining the upperhand in the match, the home side take the lead. Defoe has received very little supply so far.
Assist Dejan Mezga
Goal Robert Berić
GOAL!! Mejac embarks on a stunning run, beating Huddlestone with ease inside the box and then squaring the ball for Beric to to tap-in. Poor defending from Tottenham, Huddlestone especially.
Spurs launch a quick counter-attack through Sandro and Townsend, but Sigurdsson over-hits his pass. Lennon recovers the ball and re-finds the Icelandic midfielder inside the box, but his shot is blocked.
Left-back Mejac bursts forward from deep, cutting inside onto his right foot before blasting an excellent, fizzing shot towards goal that flies past the post. Lloris would have struggled to save that had it been on target.
Huddlestone clips a cross towards Sandro just inside the box. He knocks the ball down for Defoe, but the Spurs forward mis-hits his volley and it floats wide and high.
Naughton squares the ball to Sandro who rides a robust challenge from Beric, takes a touch and rockets a shot just past Handanovic's post with his weak foot.
News from Athens: Lazio have scored and lead 1-0 against Panathinaikos.
Huddlestone floats a free-kick into the box which Sigurdsson heads straight at Handanovic who saves comfortably.
Lennon robs Mejac deep in Maribor's own half. He goes past Rajcevic but his cross is cleared by Arghus. The resulting corner is easily dealt with by Maribor.
That's better from Walker. The fullback gets forward and fizzes a cross into the 'channel of uncertainty' but none of his team-mates had gambled at the far post.
More poor play from Spurs. A weak cross-field pass from Walker is intercepted, but Huddlestone recovers possession and feeds Lennon. The winger is double-marked, runs into trouble and concedes possession. The visitors have looked pretty clueless in the final third so far.
A long ball over the top almost finds Ibraimi, but Naughton beats him to the ball and it loops up into the grateful arms of Lloris.
It's been a scrappy game so far. Neither goalkeeper has had to make a save, and neither side has taken control of the midfield yet. Sigurddson has been especially wasteful for Spurs.
Townsend runs from his own penalty area to Maribor's. Full-back Milec can't keep up, so pretends to have taken an elbow to the face. The referee waves play on but Townsend's cross is way over-hit.
The pocket-sized Defoe has just floored Maribor's tall, burly Brazilian defender Arghus. The centre-back channels his country-man Rivaldo with some on-the-floor theatrics and a pleading look towards the referee. Defoe escapes, rightly, without punishment.
The Spurs defence hasn't looked entirely convincing so far, with a technically gifted Maribor side probing with some early success, though Lloris has yet to make a save. The hosts are pressing high and countering with real speed.
Ibraimi, who has looked the home side's most dangerous player so far, plays a through-ball for Beric to chase. Caulker holds him at bay long enough for Lloris to rush out and claim the ball.
Cvijanovic advances forward unchallenged before threading a pass in behind the Tottenham defence for Beric. The forward is clean through, but the linesmen's flag is raised.
Townsend can't control Lloris' long ball and Maribor break. Beric feeds the lightening quick Ibraimi who bursts towards Spurs' penalty box before pulling the ball back for Mertelj, but Sigurdsson got back in time to intercept.
Walker drifts in a cross towards the far post which is only cleared as far as Sigurdsson. He takes a touch and slices his shot wide from the edge of the area.
Maribor get the game underway.
The teams are on the pitch in Maribor, and we're just minutes away from kick-off...
Milestone watch: Spurs are three strikes shy of their 200th goal in the Uefa Cup and/or Europa League.
No Slovenian side has ever beaten an English club, losing every encounter bar NK Olimpija Ljubljana’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool in 2003-04.
Maribor have met just one English opponent in the past, losing both their home and away fixtures against Championship club Birmingham City last season. You have to go back to 1995 to find Tottenham’s one and only encounter against Slovenian opposition, where they beat NK Rudar Velenje 2-1 in the Intertoto Cup.
Maribor are currently second in the group after their win over Panathinaikos. The north Londoners are without a victory in the Europa League and sit in third place. Elsewhere, group leaders Lazio travel to Athens.
Andre Villas-Boas reaffirms his commitment to the Europa League by naming just three changes to the side that lost to Chelsea at the weekend. Hugo Lloris replaces Brad Friedel in goal, Andros Townsend replaces Clint Dempsey and Kyle Naughton comes into the team at the expense of William Gallas. Naughton will start the game at left-back with Jan Vertonghen moving to his favoured centre-back position. Neither Emmanuel Adebayor nor Gareth Bale travelled with the squad. Aaron Lennon captains the side.
With first choice centre-back Nejc Potokar injured and back-up defender Jovan Vidovic suspended after being sent off against Lazio, Maribor manager Darko Milanic recalls Arghus in the heart of defence. The Brazilian centre-back had been previously unavailable after picking up a red card in Maribor’s Champions League play-off against Dinamo Zagreb. Arghus is the only change to the line-up that beat Panathinaikos 3-0 at home. Dangerman Marcos Tavares starts in the hole just behind lone striker Robert Beric.
Tottenham subs: Cudicini, Gallas, Smith, Dempsey, Falque, Livermore, Parrett.
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Caulker, Vertonghen, Naughton; Huddlestone, Sigurdsson, Sandro; Lennon, Defoe, Townsend.
Maribor subs: Pridigar, Viler, Filipovic, Dodlek, Lesjak, Komazec, Ploj.
Maribor: Handanovic; Milec, Rajcevic, Arghus, Mejac; Mertelj, Cvijanovic; Mezga, Tavares, Ibraimi; Beric.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com UK’s live text commentary of this evening’s Europa League match between Maribor and Tottenham Hotspur. First up, here are tonight’s line-ups…
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