Jenas hails Tottenham's Champions League bow

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The Independent Football

Jermaine Jenas has hailed Tottenham's first-half performance in their Champions League Group A opener at Werder Bremen as the best of his five years at the club.

Midfielder Jenas helped Spurs romp to a 2-0 lead at the Weserstadion last night and watched them squander further chances to kill the game before Bremen came roaring back to equalise in a crazy four-minute spell either side of half-time.

Although "disappointed" with the outcome, Jenas was thrilled with the visitors' early onslaught in what was their first ever match in the competition proper.

He said: "In the Champions League, to come to a place like this - which is a tough place to come - and keep them quiet and put in such a performance was probably the best 43 minutes I've seen at Tottenham since I've been here."

Jenas was a surprise starter last night, making just his second appearance of the season following a summer that saw him repeatedly linked with a move away from White Hart Lane.

The 27-year-old more than justified his recall in place of the injured Luka Modric in what was the 50th European match of his career.

Indeed, Jenas produced one of the passes of the season to help set up Spurs' second goal, volleying a defensive clearance out to Rafael van der Vaart on the left and giving the Dutchman all the time he needed to cross for Peter Crouch to head home.

"I knew where Rafa was, the ball was coming down to me and it was just an instinct," Jenas said.

"I saw it, I hit it, and - thankfully - it worked out well for us."

Despite continuing to dominate, that was as good as it got for Tottenham, who loosened their stranglehold on the game at just the wrong moment.

"It's the timing of goals as well that makes the difference," said Jenas.

"That one they got late in the first half, when they came out, they were raring to go.

"Unfortunately, we probably fell asleep in the first couple of minutes.

"But we pulled it back together, showed some experience, and we had a few chances ourselves in the end."

He added of the outcome: "There's always that little nagging thing inside of me, which is if we could've held on for the first half then maybe (we could have had) more.

"It's the Champions League; it's time to enjoy ourselves."

Jenas was one of a handful of Spurs players on the field last night with previous experience of the competition, having helped Newcastle to the now-defunct second group stage seven years ago.

But it was uncharted territory for the likes of captain Ledley King, who described his pride at being the first man to lead Tottenham out for a match in the old European Cup for almost half a century.

The defender told Spurs TV Online: "Very proud. I've been wanting to play at this level for a long time and I'm glad it's finally here.

"But there's no time for me to get all sentimental!

"It's another game; it's at the top level - which we want to be playing at - and it's up to us to go and show what we can do."

He added: "We played brilliantly in that first half. The only disappointment was the goal we conceded just before half-time.

"Once they got themselves back in it, they came out with something to play for again and that's when they became difficult."

King admitted Spurs would have taken a draw before the game and was also encouraged that holders Inter Milan could only manage an identical result at FC Twente in the other Group A game.

"If you're 2-0 up, you're going to be disappointed if you don't win the game," King said.

"Looking back on it, I'm sure it'll turn out to be a good point.

"The good thing is we haven't lost any ground on anyone so far, so it's all to play for."