REPORT: AF 1, SPURS 1
Robbie Keane scored the goal that secured a 1-1 draw against Anorthosis Famagusta, making it an aggregate margin of 7-2 and the UEFA Cup group stage now awaits.
Robbie Keane scored the goal that secured a 1-1 draw against Anorthosis Famagusta, making it an aggregate margin of 7-2 and the UEFA Cup group stage now awaits.In what was not an enthralling encounter, the Cypriot side took a second half lead and looked fairly comfortable in maintaining their advantage until the introduction of Gareth Bale and Keane altered the course of events.
In the 7th minute it really should have been 1-0 following a throughball from Lee Young-Pyo which allowed Darren Bent to outmuscle Nicolaou Nicos and square unselfishly for Jermain Defoe. The little striker, however, blazed over the bar.
At the other end the tall figure of Noikaumana Hamad pressed forward from the left flank and teed up Laban Vincent to pose a threat, with his effort bobbling wide. Bent later provided the danger with a forceful dash down the left of the penalty area and squared in front of Steed Malbranque, but the midfielder failed to propel himself forward. Fast forward a few moments and Defoe popped an effort over the bar with Bent again the supply line.
There were a couple of questionable offide decisions made which proved a big frustration to Bent, but Defoe was onside ten minutes before the break when Malbranque located him some six yards out in front of goal. His rising shot was somehow clutched with ease by home goalkeeper Zoltan Nagy.
Malbranque went for the ambitious on what remained a steamy evening in Larnaca, attempting an overhead kick from a Paul Stalteri cross and then the Frenchman slotted in Defoe just before the break and the striker struck and upright from the edge of the six yard box.
It wasn't the most eventful game and, with the climate, it had a bit of a pre-season feel to it except that the pitch wasn't particularly lush and didn't really lend itself to slick passing.
William Boaventura had a shy on goal just after the interval that flew over the bar at the end populated entirely by Spurs fans.
The scoring was opened on 53 minutes when A Boaventura cross from the left was cradled by the arms of Nicos Frousos and funnelled into the path of Fabio de Matos Pereira, who struck goalwards and netted via a slight deflection. Paul Robinson was booked for his pointing out of the clear use of arms.
Malbranque came close to providing an instant response at the other end but his shot was foiled by Nagy. Defoe proceeded to embark on a jinking run that only got knocked off course at the final moment before, a couple of minutes later, flashing a dipping shot narrowly wide.
The debut making Kevin Prince Boateng made way for Gareth Bale on 68 minutes, with the German having struggled to make an impression on the game.
A misdirected clearance from Michael Dawson nearly led to an increase in the lead for the home side when Laban drilled a shot just wide of the left hand upright. Keane was then quickly on the scene, while Bale was already making significant inroads into home defences.
It was from one such foray from which equality was achieved after 78 minutes. An elegant stride down the left was followed by a low centre that was dummied by Bent and slashed into the top corner by Keane - the substitutes combining to considerable effect.
Adel Taarabt was given an opportunity to shine late on, but the next chance fell to Defoe, whose low shot was saved by Nagi following a Paul Stalteri cross.
We'll find out where our next stop is on Tuesday.