Sunday, February 25, 2024

Spurs in as Sevilla crash out

Tottenham made it into the UEFA Cup knock out stages with a gritty come-from behind 2-2 draw over Spartak Moscow at White Hart Lane on Thursday following the final group matches.
Spurs became the third Premier League side to survive the group round after Aston Villa, in action 24 hours earlier, and Manchester City.
Other clubs to book the last six berths available for the round of 32 on Thursday were Paris Saint Germain, Olympiakos, VfB Stuttgart, NEC Nijmegen, and Sampdoria.
The night’s big casualty were Sevilla, back-to-back winners in 2006 and 2007.
Mark Hughes’ Man City turned up at Racing Santander already qualified, which is just as well as they were trounced 3-1 by the Spaniards.
Hughes rang the changes in Spain, with seven new faces from the side that lost to Everton at the weekend, including Kasper Schmeichel replacing Joe Hart in goal and Tal Ben-Haim in at centre-back for captain Richard Dunne whose wife is due to give birth this week.
But to no avail as Santander went two goals clear inside half an hour via Jonathan Pereira and Oscar Serrano with Juan Valera turning the screw after the break. Felipe Caicedo grabbed City’s consolation in injury time.
Despite the reverse City held on to top spot in Group A clear of already through FC Twente and PSG.
Fans clashed before PSG’s game with FC Twente but the French club didn’t let those skirmishes worry them with goals from Peguy Luyindula in either half, Stephane Sessegnon and Mateja Kezman keeping their European dreams alive.
Paris Saint Germain coach Paul Le Guen made plain his ambitions for the club in the competition. “We played a very good match and knew how to stay organised when things got difficult,” he said.
“We can congratulate ourselves on this qualification, on how we played, and on the way the players get on well with each other. We did what we needed to do to destabilise our opponents, we knew how to be decisive, to force the victory.
“We are happy to have qualified, to still be on course in the UEFA Cup and we now want to go as far as possible.”
Over in London Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp made six changes from Saturday’s draw against Manchester United. In came Chris Gunter, Gilberto, Tom Huddlestone, Jamie O’Hara, Gareth Bale and Fraizer Campbell for Vedran Corluka (ineligible), Jonathan Woodgate (back problem), Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Jermaine Jenas (injured), Aaron Lennon and Roman Pavlyuchenko (also ineligible).
Spurs went into the break with boos ringing in their ears though as they trailed 2-0 to Spartak after Artem Dzyuba drilled a loose ball through keeper Heurelho Gomes’ legs with the Russian then doubling up into an empty net.
Luka Modric, one of the players who has enjoyed a revival since Redknapp’s arrival, cut the deficit after making the most of a great run from half-time substitute Aaron Lennon in the 67th minute – the Croat’s first goal for Tottenham.
The north Londoners, winners of the UEFA Cup in 1972 and 1984, were back on level terms seven minutes later thanks to Huddlestone’s header to earn a draw that ensured them of the runners-up spot in Group D behind leaders Udinese.
The Italian table toppers were beaten 2-0 by NEC Nijmegen to earn the Dutch side the third qualifying spot.
In Group C, dual winners Sevilla went down 1-0 at Sampdoria, leaving the Italians and not the Spanish side in third behind Vfb Stuttgart who took second courtesy of a 2-0 win over already qualified Standard Liege.
In Group B, Greek side Olympiakos joined Galatasaray and Metalist in the last 32 courtesy of a 4-0 thrashing over Hertha Berlin. The draw for the round of 32 takes place on Friday.

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