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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 23 November 2006  - 12:00

Another away victory made it three wins out of three in the UEFA Cup Group Stage after Bayer Leverkusen were defeated by a single goal on Thursday night.

Another away victory made it three wins out of three in the UEFA Cup Group Stage after Bayer Leverkusen were defeated by a single goal on Thursday night.

Typically, it was Dimitar Berbatov who netted the decisive strike against his former employers, his fourth goal in UEFA Cup combat this season. It was an impressive performance but, in truth, there were many chances and the advantage should really have been increased as the Leverkusen rearguard was being cut through like butter on the break in the second half.

With an attacking looking line-up featuring a return to the side for Teemu Tainio and a second start for Steed Malbranque, there was only five minutes on the clock when the French midfielder played a clever ball into the path of Berbatov, who had made a dash into the area. Forced a little wide, the striker squared across the six yard box, but just off the radar of Robbie Keane.

Leverkusen were forced into a change as early as the 15th minute with the Swiss winger Tranquillo Barnetta clearly struggling and replaced by Pirmin Schwegler in a period of the game that was largely uneventful until a Keane corner found the head of Berbatov, although Jorg Butt in the home goal was untroubled.

Berbatov tested Butt not long after the half hour mark, with the keeper managing to parry and the loose ball evading the on-rushing Keane.

On 34 minutes the lead was taken and the banks of Spurs fans erupted inside the BayArena. Didier Zokora linked up with Keane to provide Lennon with a route through on goal and, although Butt managed to deny the speedy winger, the ball squirted across goal and Berbatov was on hand for a tap in against his old club.

Authority in the game was established as the whistle sounded for half-time. Seven minutes into the second period substitute Paul Freier came very close to levelling when he sprinted into the area and fired in a low, powerful effort. The ball appeared to strike the inside of Paul Robinson leg and diverted wide.

Robbo then made a fantastic stop after Freier pulled the ball back from out wide and Andrei Voronin was teed up for a clear hit on goal that was fielded at the second attempt. At the other end it should have been two when Keane presented Berbatov with another tap-in chance - this one being spurned.

Keane probably should have done better when Lennon superbly picked him out inside the area, his shot being shovelled away by Butt, before Bernt Scheider tried his luck from 25 yards and struck Robbo's right hand upright.

Malbranque made way for Tom Huddlestone on 67 minutes and shortly after Voronin took another pot shot that Robinson saved, but the ball ran loose and the big striker Sergej Barbarez was ready to pounce before the goalkeeper reclaimed it.

Mido took over striking duties from Berbatov with 14 minutes remaining and the ex-Leverkusen man received a standing ovation from the home fans.

Pascal Chimbonda had a chance to make it two in the final minute after good work from Keane, but all in all, it was another successful UEFA Cup Thursday - Wigan next on Sunday.

Tickets are now on GENERAL SALE for our final UEFA Cup Group Stage encounter against Dinamo Bucharest on December 14, kick-off 7.45pm.

The game will be vital in determining who we face in the next round of the competition, with the teams finishing top of their group drawn against a third placed team from one of the other UEFA Cup groups, with those in second place facing the prospect of taking on one of the eight teams who finish third in their respective Champions League groups CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR TICKETS ONLINE.