Cerny's Prague prang nearly knocks Spurs off course

A LEANER, meaner Spurs team overcame another goalkeeping calamity to claim a 2-1 victory against Slavia Prague in the Czech capital last night

A LEANER, meaner Spurs team overcame another goalkeeping calamity to claim a 2-1 victory against Slavia Prague in the Czech capital last night.

Tottenham, who it was revealed before the game have been placed on a fitness regime to remove a collective 100lbs, outplayed the Champions League rejects in the first half of their Uefa Cup first leg.

But the new Spurs coaching team will have to concentrate not only on shedding pounds but on shedding keeping errors after Radek Cerny, not Paul Robinson, reopened the dreaded goalkeeper debate at White Hart Lane with a second-half howler of his own.

Dimitar Berbatov had got the Lilywhites off to a flying start, just four minutes into the tie. After the ball was deflected into the Bulgarian's path he cracked an early shot low past the Czech keeper into the bottom corner.

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Spurs retained possession for the lion's share of the half, with Jenas again at the centre of the action for the next goal on 30 minutes. He released Robbie Keane into space behind Slavia's defence with a well-timed pass and the skipper deftly placed the ball past the keeper.

At half-time the Tottenham dressing room would have been a relaxed place. Earlier this season, in the Champions League, Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Slavia in Prague. But Juande Ramos's side looked set for a much easier time and would have been confident of adding to their tally.

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Slavia, however, returned after the break with renewed purpose and were rewarded in the 70th minute when a cross from Daniel Hubacek was misjudged by Cerny. The former Slavia Prague keeper was returning to his old stomping ground at the Stadion Evzena Rosickeho, but his composure deserted him as he realised the ball was about to sail into his goal, and he was only able to fumble it into the path of David Strihavka.

Tottenham's jitters did not end there. With Slavia's confidence boosted they set about a make-shift Spurs defence - missing Ledley King and Michael Dawson, as well as cup-tied Alan Hutton - and Erich Brabec came within a whisker of grabbing an equaliser when he headed the underside of the crossbar.

It was a lucky escape for Spurs and they will have to work hard to secure entry to the last 16 of the Uefa Cup next Thursday.

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