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Tottenham 1 Shakhtar 1: Giovani delivers but Spurs run out of gas

27 February 2009 09:54
Tottenham

failed to make it past the last 32 of the UEFA Cup for the first time in three seasons, despite a spirited effort from Harry Redknapp's understudies at White Hart Lane last night.

The manner of their exit at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk will have left plenty of Spurs fans wondering why Harry Redknapp did not at least risk having a couple of big guns on the bench despite the pressing engagement of a Carling Cup final on Sunday.

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Despite the damage done in last week's away leg, Tottenham's makeshift starting XI did their best to make an impression on Ukrainian visitors rich in European experience. And when Mexico international, Giovani scored his first goal for Spurs on 55 minutes, hopes of an unlikely comeback spread around White Hart Lane.

But a late goal for Shakhtar by midfielder Fernandinho deflated those hopes, ending the European adventure for another season.

It was just a shame that, with Shakhtar seemingly there for the taking following Tottenham's opener, Redknapp did not have, say, a Darren Bent or a David Bentley on the bench to bring on for 20 minutes even ahead of Sunday's meeting with Manchester United.

Not that the Tottenham manager was making any apologies.

He said: 'It's easy to make decisions with hindsight, but I have to make decisions at the time. The lads were terrific and we were very unlucky not to win. We sent out a stronger side last week and lost and no one wanted to win more than I did it. It would have been great to go through.

Hot shot: Giovani celebrates after scoring against Shakhtar Donetsk

 'The situation we're in has made things difficult. If we didn't have a cup final I wouldn't have been looking to rest players. I've had to juggle things and I'm pleased with how it's gone. To get a win at Hull was a massive result for this club. That was the most important game of the week.'

Only the Carling Cup-tied Wilson Palacios survived from the team who earned that win at Hull, while 18-year-old striker John Obika, with 14 goals from 21 youth team appearances, was handed a first senior start in attack alongside Fraizer Campbell.

However, it was Shakhtar's quartet of Brazilians who were first to impress on White Hart Lane's faultless turf.

Early chances for Jadson and Willian were enough to have Redknapp out of his seat barking orders. And, egged on by their manager and the support of a noisy home crowd, Spurs began to find their rhythm, with Jamie O'Hara forcing a decent stop from Andriy Pyatov.

Obika showed neat footwork on two occasions to fashion himself shooting opportunities and Spurs then had a decent appeal for penalty waved away by Italian referee Paolo Tagliavento after Campbell appeared to be caught by a high boot from Fernandinho.

Down and out: Dos Santos Giovani (foreground) stands dejected as Shakhtar Donetsk celebrate their equaliser

Seconds after the restart, Obika spurned a gilt-edged chance but 10 minutes later, Giovani had the home fans in full voice.

Having never lived up to the hype since his summer move from Barcelona, Giovani at least offered a glimpse of what he can do after collecting Campbell's flick on the edge of the box before sending an unstoppable shot into the top lefthand corner.

Moments later the comeback looked on when Campbell was sent tumbling in the area but once again the Italian official waved away the appeal to the fury of the Tottenham bench.

With time running out and Spurs' youngsters tiring, Shakhtar found their second wind. And in the 86th minute they hit the match-clinching strike. Spurs sub John Bostock lost possession cheaply, allowing Jadson to work the ball to Fernandinho who, in turn was deadly accurate with his sidefoot shot.



 

Source: Daily_Mail