Having opened the group campaign with a 1-0 win over FC Nurnberg on Friday, we lost by the same scoreline to Salzburg on Saturday morning, but a 2-0 triumph in our third match of the competition – thanks to goals from Anton Walkes and Shayon Harrison – saw us advance to the knockout stages in second place.
Indeed, Nurnberg, ourselves and Red Bull Salzburg all finished with six points, but our superior goal difference saw us through at the expense of the Austrian outfit.
“The Red Bull Salzburg match was a typical European game in the way that it played out,” reflected Under-18s Coach Kieran McKenna. “We controlled the large majority of the first half without really hitting our full tempo and we had quite a few chances, but they managed to break away and score from our corner against the run of play.
“In the second half we bombarded their goal, but Salzburg defended well to their credit and we weren’t able to break through, so we hope the boys will learn about the importance of taking chances in light of that, especially against European opposition.
“We knew that we probably needed to win our second match of the day against the host team by a couple of goals and to be honest we dominated the game and created numerous chances. We started really well, put them on the back foot and created a number of opportunities throughout both halves.
“We defended well at the other end as well – Christian Maghoma was excellent and very dominant with his heading and that helped to make sure our opponents were kept quiet.”
Once again playing 50-minute matches, Armani Daly went close on two occasions in the opening stages against Red Bull Salzburg, while Cy Goddard saw his shot from 12 yards blocked by a defender.
Anthony Georgiou sent in a number of crosses but we couldn’t capitalise on them, with the Austrian side taking the lead two minutes before half-time as they latched onto Goddard’s corner, broke away down the pitch and produced a clinical finish.
After the break, Georgiou was denied by the feet of the goalkeeper from the left side of the box, while Nathan Oduwa kept the opposing custodian busy – forcing two separate saves within a few minutes of each other.
Goalkeeper Harry Voss made an important stop to prevent Salzburg from extending their lead in the closing stages, the game ultimately slipping away from us.
We signalled our intent in the next match against Muhlenkreis Team early on, with Georgiou going close from a tight angle and Ryan Loft hitting the inside of the post.
The breakthrough arrived on 22 minutes when Walkes, in similar fashion to Emmanuel Sonupe’s goal against Nurnberg on Friday, charged down the goalkeeper’s kick and found the net.
Oduwa was introduced off the bench seven minutes after the restart and was soon in the thick of the action. He sent over a good cross from which Loft headed against the upright and repeated the trick a few moments later, Georgiou this time latching onto it at the back post but firing over the top.
Loft, Harrison and Oduwa were all denied by the goalkeeper, before Harrison met Oduwa’s cut-back and completed the scoring with four minutes remaining.
Our last four clash with Liverpool kicks-off at 12.30pm local time on Sunday.
Spurs (v Red Bull Salzburg): Voss, Paul, Walkes, Lesniak, Maghoma, Ogilvie, Daly (Goddard 25), Stylianides (Loft 35), Harrison, Oduwa, Georgiou.
Spurs (v Muhlenkreis Team): McDermott, Daly (Oduwa 32), Ogilvie, Owens, Maghoma, Lesniak (Stylianides 41), Harrison, Walkes, Loft, Goddard, Georgiou.