Search

Spurs staring at Europa League exit after home defeat against Benfica

21:59 13 March 2014

Benfica captain Luisao leaps to head home the first of his two goals against Tottenham at White Hart Lane

Benfica captain Luisao leaps to head home the first of his two goals against Tottenham at White Hart Lane

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Europa League last 16 first leg: Tottenham 1 Benfica 3

Tottenham’s hopes of progressing in the Europa League are hanging by a thread after they were defeated 3-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Benfica at White Hart Lane.

The Portuguese league leaders broke away to score a precious away goal in the 29th minute – and their captain Luisao then scored from two corners in the second period, sandwiching a Christian Eriksen free-kick.

Spurs will have to score three goals at the Stadium of Light next week to have any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals – and they will have to win without Jan Vertonghen, who will be suspended after picking up a yellow card 10 minutes from time.

Having sprung a surprise at the weekend by fielding Kyle Walker on the right of midfield against Chelsea, Tim Sherwood raised eyebrows again tonight, picking Harry Kane in his starting line-up for the first time.

Spurs started well and dominated possession for the first half an hour, while showing good work-rate and pressing effectively.

However, they struggled to make an impact in the final third, being restricted to a wayward 25-yard strike from Sandro and a cross from Aaron Lennon, which forced Silvio to beat Emmanuel Adebayor in the air and make an important header.

Benfica were doing little to trouble Hugo Lloris at the other end – until the 29th minute, when they scored with their first opportunity.

There seemed to be little danger, but Ruben Amorim split the Spurs defence with one killer through ball from inside his half, and Rodrigo raced past Kyle Naughton on the outside to latch onto it before coolly finishing into the far corner.

Tottenham immediately looked rattled, losing their composure in the remainder of the first half – and they faced another test of their character in the second half.

They produced their best chance so far shortly after the break as Eriksen drifted infield and freed Adebayor with a neat through ball. The forward had time to take a touch inside the box and pick his spot, but scewed his shot well wide.

Paulinho then nearly released Eriksen with a visionary prodded pass, but Adebayor intercepted the ball – and he was offside.

Those missed opportunities proved to be costly because Benfica doubled their lead in the 58th minute.

Kane tried to beat a man inside his own half but lost out, gifting Amorim a shot on goal. Lloris tipped it over the bar acrobatically, but when the ensuing corner came into the box, Luisao was left all alone to head home at the front post.

Spurs had fought back from a similar scenario in their previous European game at the Lane, when they had trailed 2-0 against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Eriksen had started that comeback with a second-half free-kick – and the Dane repeated the feat against Benfica, halving the deficit with another set piece as he whipped the ball into the top left corner from 25 yards.

Eriksen’s next free-kick gave Younes Kaboul a header at goal, but it was too weak to trouble Jan Oblak, who held on in the packed penalty box.

Spurs nearly shot themselves in the foot as Lloris came out of his box to field a long ball but misjudged it, nearly allowing Rodrigo to get past him and finish into an empty net – but the Frenchman managed to claw the ball behind for a corner.

With just under 15 minutes left Sherwood made a double change, swapping Kane and Kyle Walker for Roberto Soldado and Danny Rose, and Nabil Bentaleb then replaced Sandro.

However, Spurs suffered a blow in the 80th minute as Vertonghen was shown a yellow card which rules him out of the second leg in Portugal.

Moments later it didn’t seem to matter, because Benfica scored a third goal from another corner. Lloris got down to save the initial header, but Luisao pounced on the loose ball, hammering it into the net off the underside of the bar.

Benfica boss Jorge Jesus celebrated by holding up three fingers to Sherwood, resulting in a touch-line confrontation – and Jesus then bickered with his own staff. However, it was the visitors who went home happy while Spurs were booed off the field at the final whistle.

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker (Rose 76), Kaboul, Vertonghen, Naughton, Sandro (Bentaleb 82), Paulinho, Lennon, Kane (Soldado 76), Eriksen, Adebayor

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

0 comments

Latest Sport Stories

Yesterday, 18:18
Sam Webber hit 34 off 27 balls but North Middlesex were defeated. Pic: Max Flego

North Middlesex were left regretting their failure to maintain the pressure with bat and ball as they lost to Richmond by 54 runs in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Yesterday, 17:00
South Hampstead captain James Williams took 4-22 with the ball and then top-scored for his side with 39 as they beat Winchmore Hill by seven wickets. Pic: Max Flego

South Hampstead moved up to third in Division Three of the Middlesex County League, level on points with second-placed Barnes, after a convincing victory away at Winchmore Hill.

Yesterday, 16:00
Jaahid Ali hit an unbeaten 126 at a run a ball in Hampstead's victory over Southgate. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hampstead closed in on the top, beating basement boys Southgate by 104 runs and picking up the maximum possible 13 points as leaders Ealing slipped up with a home defeat against Finchley in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Yesterday, 14:29
Hendon captain Kevin Maclaren (right) in action against Harrow Borough. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Hendon captain Kevin Maclaren has been banned for the whole of next season, while his brother Casey Maclaren will not be able to play until February after an attack on a Wingate & Finchley fan.

Most read sport

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our monthly newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Adrenalin junkies, this one's for you!

An icon of British engineering and a consistent favourite of James Bond, there are few names quite as legendary in motoring as Aston Martin.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder