Football

Tottenham stall in Europa League opener

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Tottenham laboured to a poor goalless draw against Partizan Belgrade in their opening match of Europa League Group C on Thursday night.

The point in a challenging Partizan Stadium, on a bobbling, turgid pitch, may seem like one gained, however Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino must be disappointed that his team failed to create a chance of any description.

With the home crowd loudly supporting their team, Tottenham kicked off and won a corner in the opening sixty seconds.

The ball eventually fell to Harry Kane, who rounded two players and lashed a left-foot shot against the bar. It was the closest Spurs would come to a goal, and the closest they would come to a shot on target.

Poor shooting

That Kane effort was the high point as the Lilywhites struggled to break down a stoic Partizan team which was highly skilled in breaking the tempo and earning free-kicks, much to the frustration of the visitors.

Andros Townsend in particular walked a very fine line after picking up a yellow card for a challenge on Vladimir Volkov just after the half-hour mark, then giving away another foul with an accidental arm/elbow.

No creativity

As the game progressed, Tottenham struggled to move the ball with the speed or incisiveness needed to unlock the Partizan defence, with the defensive midfield duo of Benjamin Stambouli and Nabil Bentaleb tidying up loose balls impressively but not joining the defence with the attack.

Further forward, Kane struggled to get involved, while Townsend and Aaron Lennon offered little as inverted wingers, simply narrowing the pitch and running into bodies. Paulinho was largely anonymous as an attacking force, popping up only to crowd Bentaleb and company and only the second half introductions of Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado gave Spurs some much needed pep.

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Debutant defender

Federico Fazio made his Tottenhamd debut and was largely comfortable apart from one error that let Danko Lazovic in. The Serbian saw his shot saved by captain Hugo Lloris and only a Bentaleb block stopped Partizan from scoring.

Partizan dominated the second half but, although they found more offensive openings than their opponents, Lloris was rarely troubled and both sides will be content to kick-off their group campaings with a point.

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Topics:
Europa League
Football
Tottenham Hotspur

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