Europa League comes back to bite Spurs as Norwich slump dents top four hopes
18:40 23 February 2014
Premier League: Norwich 1 Tottenham 0
Tottenham suffered a Europa League hangover in Norfolk as a lethargic and lacklustre display resulted in a costly defeat against Norwich.
Tim Sherwood named seven of the players who had faced Dnipro in Ukraine on Thursday in his starting line-up, and his side were well below-par at Carrow Road, losing out to Robert Snodgrass’ 47th-minute strike.
With Liverpool beating Swansea 4-3 at Anfield earlier in the day, Spurs are now six points behind the Merseysiders, with ground to make up in the race for the top four.
Sherwood was forced into an early substitution as Etienne Capoue limped off, being replaced by Nacer Chadli - and that necessitated a tactical reshuffle, with Mousa Dembele moving from the right flank into the centre to accommodate his Belgian colleague.
Spurs were struggling to make any headway and Norwich were the more dangerous side in the first half an hour.
Canaries left-back Martin Olsson was showing ambition down the flank, and he lost Aaron Lennon to latch onto a ball over the top before pulling it back across the box, narrowly missing two team-mates.
Snodgrass then made his way into the Spurs box from the right-hand side and got a shot off, but it was well blocked by Nabil Bentaleb.
Whether it was due to their European exertions or not, Spurs looked lethargic all over the pitch - and they went behind within moments of the kick-off in the second half.
Bentaleb lost the ball on the halfway line and Bradley Johnson freed Snodgrass, who raced in behind Danny Rose and whipped the ball around Hugo Lloris with a fine finish.
There was no immediate response from Spurs, who continued to labour – and when they eventually got a chance it came from a Norwich error as Emmanuel Adebayor robbed Joseph Yobo, but John Ruddy came out to save at the forward’s feet.
That sparked Spurs into life and, although Snodgrass immediately fired at Lloris from 25 yards at the other end, Ruddy had to race off his line to deny Adebayor again soon afterwards.
Sherwood then introduced Roberto Soldado, switching to 4-4-2, and the Spaniard instantly had two chances to equalise.
Adebayor cushioned the ball into his path in the box, but Soldado fired wastefully wide of the near post. And, when Lennon delivered a cross from the right, the £26million man rose highest but headed wide from six yards.
An increasingly desperate Tottenham side had another chance to level in the 81st minute as Dembele fed Chadli in the box, but Ruddy saved at his near post.
But Norwich nearly killed the game off as Johnson smashed the underside of the bar with a free-kick and, in the ensuing chaos, Lloris saved from Nathan Redmond.
Gary Hooper then beat Michael Dawson for pace down the right and delivered a low cross for Leroy Fer, who was unable to get the vital touch in front of an open goal.
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose (Townsend 82), Capoue (Chadli 14), Bentaleb, Paulinho (Soldado 65), Lennon, Dembele, Adebayor