REPORT: SLAVIA 1, SPURS 2
A one goal advantage will be taken into the second leg of our UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie after Slavia Prague were defeated by a 2-1 margin on Thursday night at the Evzena Rosickeho Stadium.
A one goal advantage will be taken into the second leg of our UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie after Slavia Prague were defeated by a 2-1 margin on Thursday night at the Evzena Rosickeho Stadium.On reflection the whole contest should really be done and dusted as the Czech side were pretty much second best in all departments on their own patch. However, a goal on 70 minutes from David Strihavka offered Slavia hope on the night and will see them travel to White Hart Lane with just a deficit of one when it could have been many more.
We did not have to wait too long to see an away goal banked and Dimitar Berbatov was the executioner in the fourth minute. A Tom Huddlestone ball across led to Jermaine Jenas fancying his chances of a dart through, but he was blocked and it kicked up for the Bulgarian to dispatch a measured shot beyond the reach of home goalkeeper Martin Vaniak.
There was control in the cold in Prague, with a good deal of composure as Slavia struggled to establish a foothold in the game after the early setback. Radek Cerny, still an incredibly popular figure in these parts was not seeing a lot of action to keep him warm.
The same could not really be said of Vaniak who was again picking the ball out of his net on 30 minutes. Jenas, so impressive alongside Huddlestone in the heart of midfield, delivered an expertly measured pass that sent Robbie Keane scurrying away with a goal on his mind and the striker calmly dinked past Vaniak for his 20th goal of the season.
The scene of a 1-0 win last season was proving to be a happy hunting ground and, inspired by accurate passing out from the back, the midfield and attackers were picking an improving Slavia off on the break as the half neared a conclusion.
Vaniak did produce a fine double stop to deny Berbatov a further entry on the scoresheet before the break, a couple of hand-stinging efforts being well palmed away by the keeper and Jenas should really have made it three seconds later after an Aaron Lennon cross was clipped back across goal by Berbatov.
Some brilliant footwork from Huddlestone led to the crossbar being rattled shortly after the re-start before a Slavia half-chance from a Mickael Tavares header that caused Cerny slight alarm.
Substitute Jamie O'Hara, on for Teemu Tainio with Pascal Chimbonda switched to the left, initiated a sweet move that also comprised of Lennon cutting back for Keane, who slashed over.
Failure to up the conversion rate was punished with 20 minutes when Strihavka challenged Cerny for a cross and the goalkeeper failed to gather. The ball subsequently trickled into the net.
Darren Bent, who was introduced to proceedings just before the reduction of the deficit made some positive charges down the channels that could well have led to profit but some immaculate approach play in general was let down by the final pass on too many occasions. It really should have been tie over before Slavia's reply.
Vaniak produced a show-stopping save to foil a Berbatov free-kick that was heading for the top corner Bent struck the bar from a Huddlestone-inspired supply line.
Slavia pressed late on and nearly levelled when Erich Brabec rattled the crossbar with his header with just five minutes remaining, but it was the Spurs contingent in a crowd of 11,134 that left celebrating a win.