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


Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 16:41

Saracens winger Sean Maitland has hailed Nick Tompkins’ mental strength after the 21-year-old centre scored a try and took the man of the match award against Scarlets on Saturday, having only being added to the starting line-up moments before kick-off.

Yesterday, 15:24

UCS Old Boys remain inside the bottom two places in Herts/Middlesex Division One after a 46-7 home defeat to London Welsh Druids on Saturday condemned them to their fourth successive defeat.

Yesterday, 13:01

Arsene Wenger turned 67 on Saturday, but his team failed to give him the birthday present he coveted most – three points against Middlesbrough.

Yesterday, 12:30

Mauricio Pochettino says Harry Winks is capable of playing in front of the back four by himself in Tottenham’s new system as the Lilywhites prepare to visit Liverpool in the League Cup tomorrow.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Spurs played out their second goalless draw in the space of five days after a 0-0 tie against Bournemouth on the south coast. Here are five talking points.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Spencer McCall is immediately targeting a new objective – avenging Hendon’s opening day defeat to Worthing – after their FA Cup dreams evaporated at Boreham Wood.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hampstead & Westminster captain Toby Roche has set his side the target of joining club hockey’s European elite after emerging as the league’s surprise package this season.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mauricio Pochettino says he is happy with Dele Alli’s goal return and insists the midfielder should not be expected to score as regularly as a striker.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

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

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


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now