Swiss scare for Spurs in Champions League Play-off
England’s Tottenham Hotspur reappeared in Europe’s elite club competition after a gap of fifty years only to find their tie hanging in the balance after an enthralling playoff night at the home of BSC Young Boys of Switzerland. The English side came from three goals down to earn two valuable away goals in a 3-2 defeat at the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf.
The artificial turf at Berne clearly caused problems for Harry Redknapp’s side as Spurs hung on for their lives for the 3-2 scoreline where in all probability the score could have been more for the hosts.
Helped by some inexperienced defending by Tottenham, Young Boys raced to a 3-0 lead before the break with goals from Bosnian Senad Lulic, Henri Bienvenu and Xavier Hochstrasser. The manner of the home side’s dominance shocked the White Hart Lane faithful but the North London side came back into the match just before the break with a well taken header from Sebastien Bassong. Seven minutes from normal time Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko hammered in a second away goal to give hope for the return leg in London in a week’s time.
After the match Harry Redknapp was a relieved man despite the defeat. The former West Ham boss was quoted as saying by the BBC, “It was a great defeat- if there is such a thing. At 3-0 down, we were staring down the barrel. We were in desperate trouble. We were all over the show. From the first minute, we started sloppily, they hit the post and it went on.”
“They didn’t give us time to settle on the ball. They ran all over us in the first half hour.” The Tottenham boss added.
Redknapp believes the artificial surface at the Stade de Suisse played a huge part in his side’s poor performance.
“It’s not an excuse but I played on Astroturf myself and hated every minute of it. We used to have it at QPR but we don’t have it anymore in England. I don’t agree with artificial turf and I don’t think it should be used in a competition like this.
“I left four players out because they weren’t comfortable on the pitch in training on Monday.
“Aaron Lennon wasn’t comfortable, Robbie [Keane] had a problem with his knee. The last time Tom Huddlestone played on artificial turf he was out for six weeks as his knee blew up like a balloon.
“I didn’t really want to risk Tom. It was a case that we were pretty desperate and I threw him on.”
The return leg at the Lane would be a treat to watch if the first leg is to be an evidence of the Swiss side’s quality. No doubt Tottenham would have to be at their very best to turn over the 3-2 deficit against an attacking minded Young Boys side that won 1-0 away to Turkish side Fenerbahce in the last round to win 3-2 on aggregate that booked their place to this playoff. The two vital away goals could be very important ultimately and no doubt Spurs would need to improve defensively in order to overcome Vladimir Petkovic’s side next week. Attackingly Tottenham could be devastating for any side on any day particularly with a passionate crowd behind at White Hart Lane.
The crowd and the two away goals would be the telling factors come August 25, according to Tottenham’s manager. Harry Redknapp told the BBC, “Our plan is to get after them at White Hart Lane. It’ll be a fantastic crowd, great atmosphere and we’re at home. We have to win the game. If we win the game, we have a great chance to go through, obviously, with the two away goals.”
Other Playoff Results on Tuesday:
Rosenborg BK 2-1 FC Copenhagen
Iversen 23’/ Henriksen 57’ Gronkjaer 84’
Sparta Praha 0-2 MSK Zilina
Ceesay 51’/ Oravec 73’
Husyev 65’ Vertonghen 57’
Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 AJ Auxerre