After taking four points from our opening two games on Saturday, we lost out to the eventual Group Two winners from Japan with only a late Aramide Oteh strike to show for our efforts.
But after PSV Eindhoven beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1, we saw off local side Fortuna Dusseldorf later in the day thanks to a second half goal from Keanan Bennetts to go through as runners-up with seven points, finishing ahead of PSV on goal difference.
We’ll now face Red Bull Salzburg in the last four at 10.30am local time on Monday, while Japan High School Selection take on Besiktas in the other semi-final.
“On the balance of play over the two games today we deserved to go through,” said Coach Matt Wells. “The boys showed a good mentality and good character to come back from this morning’s disappointment and, going into the final game against Fortuna Dusseldorf, we had to win so there was immense pressure on us. The players were well aware of the situation and although it was tough playing against the local team, fighting for their pride with the home support behind them, we coped with that well.
“Unfortunately in the first game we were undone by one long ball after starting well and playing the majority of the match in our opponents’ half. It’s very important in these tournament matches not to get caught out with long balls and counter-attacks but sadly we did and that put us on the back foot. We were a bit disappointed with our general performance in the first game but nevertheless we’ve done enough to get through now so we’ll be looking for some good performances in the latter stages of the tournament tomorrow.”
Sunday’s games were once again 25 minutes each way. In our first match of the day, Japan High School Selection took the lead after eight minutes in direct fashion and, after Zenon Stylianides had a close-range header well saved by the goalkeeper, they made it 2-0 on the counter-attack five minutes after half-time – the ball being tucked in after an initial shot came back off the post.
Bennetts then flashed the ball across goal but Oteh was unable to convert while Jack Roles sent a free-kick narrowly over the bar.
We did manage to get off the mark a minute from time when Oteh fired in after Kazaiah Sterling’s shot was saved, but our opponents had already done enough to claim the points.
Needing a win against Fortuna Dusseldorf to progress, we were unable to find a breakthrough in the first half but we showed greater urgency and intent after the interval and, after the goalkeeper tipped an effort from Bennetts over the bar, we scored what turned out to be the winner as Roles played a perfectly-weighted ball to Bennetts and he finished well from an acute angle on the half-hour mark.
Spurs (v Japan High School Selection): Glover, Mukena, Tsaroulla, Marsh (Dinzeyi 32), Walkes, Maghoma, Tracey (Roles 25), Stylianides, Sterling, Goddard (Oteh 25), Georgiou (Bennetts 35).
Spurs (v Fortuna Dusseldorf): McDermott, Mukena, Tsaroulla, Stylianides, Walkes, Dinzeyi, Tracey (Marsh 30), Duncan, Loft (Sterling 22), Roles (Goddard 45), Bennetts (Oteh 43).