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Comeback sees us through

Posted on 18 December 2008  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp's men advanced into the knock-out stages of this season's UEFA Cup - but it needed a second half comeback from 2-0 down to take the all-important point off Spartak Moscow at White Hart Lane.  

Comeback sees us through

Harry Redknapp's men advanced into the knock-out stages of this season's UEFA Cup - but it needed a second half comeback from 2-0 down to take the all-important point off Spartak Moscow at White Hart Lane.

Luka Modric's first goal for the Club and a Tom Huddlestone header cancelled out Artem Dzuba's earlier double, which could have had us heading out of the competition.

Instead, we rallied to book our place in the last 32 for the third season in a row.

Due to injuries, illness and ineligibility, Redknapp fielded a much-changed side to the one that earned a point against Manchester United here in the league last weekend.

In the absence of the cup-tied Vedran Corluka, and the unfit Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King, Didier Zokora partnered stand-in skipper Michael Dawson at centre-half.

Chris Gunter came in at right-back and Gilberto made only his second start of the season on the opposite flank.

It was the same midfield that finished the game against United, apart from Gareth Bale replacing Aaron Lennon on the left wing.

And Fraizer Campbell was back from a groin injury to take the lone striker role in the absence of Darren Bent (illness) and the cup-tied Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Despite the changes, the home side were knocking the ball about with an air of familiarity in the opening exchanges without creating an opening.

Indeed, the first chance fell to the visitors on 15 minutes when Dzuba back-heeled for Vadislav Rizhkov to shoot straight at Heurelho Gomes from the edge of the box.

It served as a warning, and eight minutes later, Spartak took the lead when a Bale back-pass caused confusion between Gilberto and Gomes, allowing Dzuba to steal in and slide under the goalkeeper.

We appeared somewhat shell-shocked, and Rizhkov nearly doubled the Russians' lead two minutes later when he burst through a Gunter challenge and shot inches wide from the edge of the box.

A reaction was needed, and for a three-minute spell around the half hour mark, we were sparked into action.

First, Campbell played in Jamie O'Hara to fire across the face of goal, although no-one was on hand for the tap-in.

Then a fierce Huddlestone 30-yard strike was punched away by goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, and O'Hara hit the side-netting from the edge of the box.

But once again, we were caught cold on the break, and on 33 minutes Dzuba claimed his second to give his side a two-goal lead.

The striker knocked the ball past the defence, who were left flat-footed as Dzuba ran through to collect it himself and go round the stranded Gomes to tap home.

It was quickly turning into a night to forget at The Lane, and although Dawson got above Pletikosa at a David Bentley free-kick three minutes before the break, he couldn't direct his header to reduce the deficit.

Aaron Lennon was introduced at half-time to add a bit of pace to our attack, and it was his incisiveness that eventually resulted in us getting back into the game.

Before this, Campbell had a header well saved by Pletikosa from a O'Hara cross four minutes after the break.

But just before our first goal on 68 minutes, Dzuba had the chance to put the game out of sight when he picked up on a loose ball on the edge of the box, only to fire straight at Gomes.

How he may live to rue that miss as we went down the other end to change the face of the game.

Lennon jinked his way into the box before playing into the centre where Modric swept home a goal that has been long in coming since his summer move from Dinamo Zagreb.

It completely changed the atmosphere around The Lane and, all of a sudden, it seemed only a matter of time before we would level things up.

Huddlestone was on hand to do so on 74 minutes, heading home Bale's left wing cross after neat work from the Welshman and Bentley.

Now if there was going to be a winner, there seemed only one team who were going to get it.

We made a go of it. Pletikosa kept out a 30-yard effort from Bentley on 78 minutes, and Campbell was unlucky to put straight at the keeper from close range after good work from Bale on 83 minutes, despite appearing to be held by a defender.

But the point was enough to take us through, although we certainly made hard work of our progress in the end.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Gunter, Dawson, Zokora, Gilberto (Lennon, 46); Bentley, Huddlestone, O'Hara, Bale; Modric; Campbell
Subs not used: Cesar, Lennon, Assou-Ekotto, Bostock, Parrett, Dervite, Obika

Spartak (4-1-3-2) Pletikosa; Parshivluk, Jiranek, Fathi, Rodriguez; Covalciuc; Shishkin (Bazhenov, 86), Rizhkov (Grigorev, 60), Saenko; Maloyan (Zotov, 74), Dzuba
Subs not used: Dzhanaev, Stranzl, Pavlenko, Prudnikov,