Andre Villas-Boas left to rue Tottenham's wasted chances against Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Friday 05 October 2012
Andre Villas-Boas wants to take the Europa League seriously. Last night, for Tottenham Hotspur's game at Panathanaikos, he thought he had found the right balance, picking the first-choice attacking players but also Hugo Lloris, Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone down the spine of the team. When Dawson headed in Huddlestone's free-kick, it looked set to work perfectly. But when Spanish striker Toche made a late run in between Dawson, Lloris and Steven Caulker and equalised, two points were lost.
Tottenham may have to field stronger teams now to make this ground back up. They have two points from two games, and if Villas-Boas wants to reach the group stage as much as he says he does, he may have to turn to his star players, as they face two games against Maribor and a difficult trip to Lazio.
The new Spurs manager has said that he needs to teach his Spurs players to take this competition more seriously than his predecessor did. So this was less than half of a second string: Moussa Dembélé, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale all started, five days after their crucial roles in the historic storming of Old Trafford.
This was not quite the same challenge. Panathinaikos have an impressive stadium, and some very loud fans, but there were not many of them and Spurs were instead free to impose themselves on the situation. They should have had a penalty after just two minutes, when Andre Pinto moved his arm to Caulker's header from a corner.
Vertonghen and Bale, the powerful left-side combination, then started to cause problems with their running and crossing. There was space for Bale and Lennon to run at goal and shoot, with not much resistance from the home defence. It was attack against defence, and little surprise when Tottenham went ahead, a goal owing to two players brought in last night by Villas-Boas. Huddlestone curled in a free-kick from the right wing and Dawson, wearing the captain's armband he thought would be his all year, rose above Loukas Vyntra at the near post to head in, to his obvious and understandable delight.
The problem, for Tottenham was that the second goal never came. They could not summon quite enough incision and purpose to kill the game, which was very much there for them if they wanted it. With 13 minutes left, right-back Giourkas Seitaridis slid in a perfect pass and Toche – too quick for Dawson – stabbed Panathinaikos level.
Man of the match Vertonghen.
Match rating 4/10.
Referee F Meyer (Ger).
Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband
Do you qualify – and how do you get it?
The Mayor of London's sister, Rachel Johnson, apologises for shocking tweet about the PM
Latest in Sport
Phil Hughes injury: Cricket world reels as Australian opener fights for his life
Sam Wallace: Players of Suarez’s standing just don’t sign for clubs like Liverpool
Phil Hughes: Batsman had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him
Manchester City vs Bayern Munich comment: Frank Lampard's part in City win shows folly of letting him leave
Manchester City vs Bayern Munich: Nasri admits City stars will be sold if they fail in Europe
- 1 Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 5 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services