Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Spurs have lift-off at last as Bent rises to occasion

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Wisla Krakow 1

They called for a "glory, glory" European night – but they almost got another "gory, gory" one instead. A shocking start to the season for Spurs and although they won this contest against the Polish champions their Uefa Cup campaign still remains in danger of ending before the real business begins.

For head coach Juande Ramos, who has such a powerful record in this competition, it would be a fresh embarrassment after the ignominies piled on him of late. He certainly cut a beleaguered figure at times before there were floods of relief as Darren Bent struck the goal that earned a first win. Spurs now travel to Krakow for the second-leg needing to avoid defeat. Otherwise there could be a wake in the party town. Even so, to preserve the victory, Spurs needed a desperate tackle by Jonathan Woodgate to deny Andrzej Niedzielan as the substitute bore down on goal. It was a heart in mouth moment and owed much to another defensive error by Ledley King. So often the rock in the past, the captain crumbled last night. "The important thing was to get a win in order to restore confidence," Ramos said later.



There was a dividend in a half-hour cameo from Frazier Campbell – the creator of Bent's goal after working space for a cross – but there was little else. Ramos called the on-loan Manchester United striker "magnificent" which was over-egging it but just shows how low they are at present.



The way Wisla took the fight to Spurs throughout does not bode well. The way Wisla opened them up for their equalising goal 67 seconds after falling behind bodes even worse. "We are optimistic," said their coach Maciej Skorza and he will remind his players that in their previous European tie, a Champions League eliminator, they beat Barcelona. Granted they lost the first-leg 4-0 in Spain but there was never any danger of such a defeat being inflicted again.



Spurs struggled. Confidence is shot and shots lacked confidence. Still, when Aaron Lennon scampered down the left and cut the ball back behind the Wisla defence, David Bentley calmly hit a first-time shot that arced beyond goalkeeper Mariusz Pawelek and into the net to open his account for his new club.



It should have settled nerves. Instead they frayed. From the re-start Wisla broke with Rafal Boguski finding Pawel Brozek. His clever first-time pass picked out Tomas Jirsak who neatly dinked his shot beyond Heurelho Gomes.



Bent had been unconvincing yet finally he made his mark, rising at the far post and, possibly, fouling the defender Cleber. Gareth Bale was unfortunate not to add a third but it was Wisla who ended on the attack.



Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-3-2): Gomes; Gunter (O'Hara, 57), King, Woodgate, Bale; Zokora; Bentley, Jenas, Lennon (Campbell, 57); Giovani (Assou-Ekotto, 70), Bent. Substitutes not used: Cesar (gk), Huddlestone, Gilberto, Dawson.



Wisla Krakow (4-4-1-1): Pawelek; Singlar, Baszczynski, Cleber, Diaz; Jirsak (Lobodzinski, 61) Sobolewski, Cantoro, Zienczuk; Boguski (Malecki, 72); Brozek (Niedzielan, 79). Substitutes not used: Juszczyk (gk), Marcelo, Glowacki, Barreto.



Referee: L Batista (Portugal).

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