UEFA Cup – Spurs well beaten in Ukraine
Tottenham Hotspur will have to come from behind to advance in the UEFA Cup after losing 2-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their last 32 tie.
Substitute Yevgen Seleznov capitalised on a mistake from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to score with his first touch just as it looked like Spurs would leave with a hard-earned clean sheet, before Jadson gave Spurs a mountain to climb with a goal in the closing minutes.
Seleznov came off the bench on 78 minutes as Shakhtar prepared to take a free-kick, and he beat Gomes to the delivery and nodded past the Brazilian to give Shakhtar the lead. Gomes remained down on the ground for several minutes after the goal although he did not appear to collide with the striker.
If the first goal was down to an error then the second was all due a touch of class, as Brazilian playmaker Jadson exchanged a one-two with compatriot Willian, and continued his run before firing low into the bottom corner.
With several key players either cup-tied or injured and the first leg in Ukraine the start of a run of five matches in 13 days – including the Carling Cup final against Manchester United, the return leg against Shakhtar and two key Premier League matches – Spurs manager Harry Redknapp showed his priorities by fielding a much-changed side.
Dean Parrett, 17, was handed his debut in central midfield, while four other youth players were handed places on the bench. Rare starts were also given to Giovani dos Santos, Chris Gunter, Gomes and Fraizer Campbell, preferred as the lone front man to Darren Bent.
Spurs were under pressure almost right from the off, and after only four minutes Ilsinho chipped a ball through the Spurs defence that Jadson volleyed wide of the far post.
Tottenham had some spells in which stand-in centre-back Tom Huddlestone played a key part in killing the tempo of the game, but the midfielder’s defensive naivety was shown up on several occasions when he lost possessions in dangerous areas, only for Michael Dawson to clear up after him.
Oleksandr Gladkyy missed a wonderful chance to open the scoring when he beat Pascal Chimbonda by controlling with his chest on the run, but he blasted the half-volley into the crowd.
For all Shakhtar’s dominance, it was Tottenham who came closest to opening the scoring when Giovani burst down the left wing and fired a strike from an acute angle that hit the outside of the near post.
After the break, the Mexico international put Jermaine Jenas through on goal but while Spurs’ captain for the evening knocked the ball past the onrushing keeper it did not have enough momentum to reach the goal before it could be cleared.
Giovani made way for Bent on the hour mark and the England striker, who remains Tottenham’s leading goal scorer this season, flicked on a long ball to the highly impressive Parrett who powered through one challenge before seeing his shot smothered by goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
Shakhtar continued to control the match, but until the opening goal Tottenham, led by the all-action Dawson, managed to repel them and could have come away on terms until Gomes’s costly error.