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Europa League: Spurs stare into abyss after Greek tragedy

Tottenham Hotspur 1 PAOK Salonika 2: Tottenham were left with a slim chance of making the second round of the Europa League after they were beaten by 10-man PAOK Salonika on a controversial night at White Hart Lane.

Sloppy marking from Sebastien Bassong allowed Dimitris Salpingidis and Stefanos Athanasiadis to give the Greeks a 2-0 lead after 13 minutes but Spurs pulled one back with a Luka Modric penalty after Konstantinos Stafylidis was dismissed for handball on the line.

Tottenham thought they had equalised through Jermain Defoe in the second half, but referee Bas Nijhuis controversially disallowed the striker's effort for a foul on Pablo Contreras.

William Gallas also had an effort ruled out, this time for offside.

The result put PAOK through and left Spurs needing to hammer Shamrock Rovers in Dublin in a fortnight's time and hope the Greeks overcome Rubin Kazan in Thessaloniki.

Harry Redknapp, taking charge of his first European game since undergoing heart surgery three weeks ago, named a strong Spurs side including Defoe, Modric and Aaron Lennon.

The Spurs boss may have been hoping for a relaxing opening 15 minutes, but it did not materialise as wretched defending allowed the Greeks to open up a two-goal lead. Willed on by the raucous followers who had made the trip from Greece, PAOK took the lead in the sixth minute.

Gallas lost possession and Giorgos Georgiadis took advantage, running into space down the right flank before crossing to the unmarked Salpingidis, who carefully guided the ball past an off-balance Heurelho Gomes after losing Bassong.

Seven minutes later PAOK were 2-0 up. Pablo Garcia released Georgiadis down the left wing and he swung a low ball across the box which Athanasiadis tapped home after being left in yards of space by sloppy marking, again from Bassong.

Then Harry Kane saw his shot blocked by Stafylidis but referee Nijhuis ruled the PAOK full-back had used his hand and he was given a straight red.

Modric stepped up to take the resulting penalty and he made no mistake to pull one back for Spurs to make it 2-1 with nine minutes of the first half left.

But the Greeks’ rearguard action secured victory.

Belfast Telegraph


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