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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 13 September 2006  - 12:00

Our return to European competition was marked with a 1-0 win against Slavia Prague in the UEFA Cup first round away leg.

Our return to European competition was marked with a 1-0 win against Slavia Prague in the UEFA Cup first round away leg.

Jermaine Jenas' fine strike in the first half handed us that vital away goal and away victory with the home leg at the Lane to follow in a fortnight's time.

The pre-match music was literally pumping at the Stadion Evzena Rosickeho as the 20,000 capacity venue slowly began to fill as the players warmed up on what looked a good surface. The Spurs travelling thousands were in the ground early and making themselves heard, hanging flags behind the goal where Paul Robinson was preparing.

Tom Huddlestone - making his first competitive start for the Club - Teemu Tainio and Jermain Defoe were added to the starting line-up, one which did not include Dimitar Berbatov and Aaron Lennon, who made the trip but were fitness doubts. The announcement over the tanoy of Radek Cerny being among our substitutes drew warm applause from the home fans in recognition of their former goalkeeper.

It was fairly nip and tuck in the early exchanges, with Slavia patient and precise and our boys seeking to break forward at pace with Defoe and Jenas. The clearest opening came on eight minutes when Mido picked up useful possession down the left flank and dispatched a low cross which was just a little too speedy for the advancing Jenas in front of goal.

Defoe shot not too far over on the turn after being supplied with the ball by Tainio, but it remained a case of very much stalemate. Slavia were forced to replace their goalkeeper on 28 minutes and Michel Vorel made way from for Matus Kozacik after the former seemingly sustained a thigh injury.

Moments later the sub keeper was in action when, from a Jenas deep corner, Chimbonda connected with a powerful header from the left of the area and Kozacik was managed to divert the ball away from goal.

Rogerio Botelho was yellow carded ten minutes before the break for a challenge that left Huddlestone needing treatment, but the big midfielder was okay to continue.

The deadlock was brilliantly broken on 37 minutes after Mido and Didier Zokora combined to tee the ball up for Jenas to the right outside the area. The England international struck low and first time, beating Kozacik to his right with the ball zipping into the bottom corner. It was our first goal in a European away fixture since Gordon Durie struck against Sparkasse Stockerau in the Cup Winners' Cup in August 1991.

Away goals are the premier currency in knock-out European football and our first one was banked in style. It was a case of so far so good as the players emerged after the interval. There was an opportunity almost straight away to extend the lead when a Zokora cross was met by the head of Defoe at the near post, but Kozacik was equal to the effort.

Tomas Hrdlicka caused momentary concern when he had two attempts on goal, the second flying too close to Robbo's right hand upright for comfort.

The England No.1 was called into serious action with 68 minutes on the clock when he reacted well to his left to parry away a free-kick from Hrdlicka before the excellent Michael Dawson crashed into a challenge to fend off the rebound.

Slavia began to press and upped the urgency level, although the introduction of Robbie Keane swing the balance slightly back in our favour as the clock ticked down. Indeed, the Irish forward had the last chance of note when he was played through by Jenas but Koracik raced off his line to smother the one-on-one. All in all though, a job well done.

Attendance: 14,869