Young Boys 3
Lulic 4, Bienvenu 13, Hochstrasser 28
Tottenham Hotspur 2
Bassong 42, Pavluychenko 83
A disastrous opening half an hour from Tottenham Hotspur, which saw them concede three goals, nearly ended their hope of qualifying for the Champions League group stage. Spurs had to deal with a hostile crowd, a change of surface due to the artificial turf at The Stade de Suisse, and a hungry Young Boys side. All three factors contributed hugely to the events, which occurred in the opening half an hour.
Harry Redknapp made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Manchester City on Saturday. Ledley King was rested, Sebastien Bassong his replacement; Giovanni dos Santos came in for Aaron Lennon, while Wilson Palacios and Roman Pavluychenko replaced Tom Huddlestone and Peter Crouch. Redknapp stuck with his favoured 4-4-2, with Palacios sitting deep in the centre of midfield.
After starting so well against City, Spurs had to endure a barrage of early attacks from the home side. Tottenham appeared stunned at the pace of the game and the players struggled to adapt to the pitch. Many passes were either over or under hit and at times misguided and misused. The back four of Tottenham looked like they had never played together before – especially in the centre of the defence where Bassong and Michael Dawson were too far apart. This was evident with Young Boys third goal, in which Bassong failed to cut out a brilliant through ball from playmaker Costanzo that lead to a great finish from Xavier Hochstrasser. The defence was not helped by their teammates losing the ball regularly in key positions. Pavluychenko’s poor pass lead to Young Boys second goal.
Redknapp’s decision to bring on Tom Huddleston after 30 minutes shows how much he values the England midfielder. His passing ability and ball retention is what Spurs lacked in the first half. The second half was a far different game of football in terms of action with Young Boys dominating the opening 20 minutes. Spurs lack of natural width in the second half showed – with many of their attacks coming through the centre of the pitch. Tottenham’s strikers had to feed off scraps all night and it was no surprise that their second goal was created by some good touch-and-go passing between Pavluychenko and Robbie Keane, which lead to the Russian powering home. There were periods in the game – in particular the first twenty minutes or so of the second half, where Young Boys kept the ball and benefitted from Spurs playing 4-4-2. Tottenham were far too deep and with the score 3-1 to the Swiss side – they were happy with the result. Redknapp could have tried 4-5-1 from the start, which would have helped his side dictate the game– but his lack of centre midfield options obviously dictated any possible change. The game fizzled out with both teams happy to exchange passes and decided to settle on what was a crazy night of football.
Tempo will be the key for Spurs come next week at White Hart Lane. Tottenham will need to start the game the same as they did against Man City. If Spurs attack the right way and take their chances – a comfortable win looks very likely. Tottenham can also look forward to the possibility of having captain King back for the second leg, who was heavily missed in the centre of defence. The Swiss side were very defensive against Fenerbache in the previous round when defending an aggregate advantage but no matter how well they defend next week – it will be hard to see them keep Spurs at bay for the entire 90 minutes. There is no need to panic, Two vital away goals have been secured and all Spurs have to do is win at the lane to book their place in this seasons Champions League.
22 Corluka – 20 Dawson- 19 Bassong – 32 Assou-Ekotto
17 Giovani – 12 Palacios – 14 Modric – 3 Bale
018 Defoe – 9 Pavluychenko
30 – 06 Huddlestone on for 32 Assou-Ekotto
46 – 21 Kranjcar on for 14 Modric
66 – 10 Keane on for 18 Defoe