Harry Redknapp admitted last night that Tottenham were facing elimination from the Uefa Cup after a makeshift side conceded two late goals in sub-zero temperatures away against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Redknapp has other priorities, including the Carling Cup final at Wembley on Sunday week, and the team he sent out for the first leg of their last-32 tie against the Ukrainian champions held on until the 79th minute, when Yevgen Seleznov headed home.
Jadson added a second goal just before the whistle and, to stay alive in Europe, Spurs have to turn around the two-goal deficit in the return leg at White Hart Lane next Thursday. Redknapp said: "I felt if we could stay in the game for 60 to 70 minutes we could push on for the last 15 or so. I couldn't see them scoring and thought they had run out of ideas, but we gave a silly free-kick away and were punished. That's how it goes.
"It won't be easy now – the game is a couple of days before a cup final at Wembley against Manchester United. What sort of team am I going to put out? It's going to be a very young team, but if they come in like [Dean] Parrett tonight it'll be a good experience."
The defeat came on a bobbly pitch that cut up and had ugly yellow lines running across it.
Redknapp rested players such as Luka Modric, Jonathan Woodgate, Wilson Palacios and Aaron Lennon – indeed, he had an entire team back in London, taking injuries and ineligibility into account. Parrett, 17, made an encouraging debut and only Dawson and Jermaine Jenas remained from the side that drew with Arsenal in their previous game.
While Spurs' problem is fixture congestion, Shakhtar have been on a winter break and had not played in more than two months – but they showed no signs of being rusty when play got started.
Two of the four Brazilians in their starting XI combined for an effort in the fifth minute, with Ilsinho wriggling into the penalty area and Jadson firing wide of the post. They also had a penalty shout turned down, then Darijo Srna had a free-kick blocked after Fernandinho went over theatrically following a challenge from Jenas.
Razvan Rat volleyed over the crossbar after drifting to the far post as Shakhtar applied their early pressure. Then Dawson was needed to bravely block a shot from Mariusz Lewandowski and Heurelho Gomes could not get his hands on a Srna cross – but there was no Shakhtar player to apply the finish.
It was backs-to-the-wall defending from the visitors and Dawson was holding it together for them. He made a last-ditch tackle to deny Olexandr Gladkiy, and moments later the striker was put through on goal but somehow volleyed his finish backwards.
It took 32 minutes for Spurs to create their first effort. Parrett played in Giovani dos Santos down the left but the Mexican's shot, on his first start under Redknapp, crashed into the side-netting. Shakhtar continued to attack and Willian fired straight at Gomes before the break, then Fernandinho shot wide from long distance.
The hosts should have been ahead three minutes after the restart with a flowing move from right to left. Jadson shifted the ball to Ilsinho, then Willian drove his shot across the face of the goal and Pascal Chimbonda, making his first start since rejoining Spurs from Sunderland, cleared for a corner.
Spurs almost hit Shakhtar on the break when Giovani played a ball over the top for Jenas. Redknapp's skipper on the night poked the ball past goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov but there were no team-mates around to finish off the move.
Shakhtar's first goal came with 11 minutes remaining, with the substitute Seleznov glancing home a Jadson free-kick. Seleznov beat the punch of Gomes, who then needed treatment for a knock.
Jadson added the second two minutes from time, wriggling into the penalty area and finishing low into Gomes' bottom corner.
Shakhtar Donetsk (4-5-1): Pyatov; Srna, Chigrinsky, Ischenko, Rat; Fernandinho, Ilsinho (Adriano, 68), Jadson, Lewandowski, Willian; Gladkyy (Seleznyov, 78). Substitutes not used: Khudzamov, Fedetskiy, Shevchuk, Duljaj, Chyzhov.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-5-1): Gomes; Gunter, Huddlestone, Dawson, Chimbonda; Jenas, Zokora, Parrett (Bostock, 89), Bentley, Giovani (Bent, 69); Campbell. Substitutes not used: Jansson, Gilberto, Smith, Mason, Obika.
Referee: T Einwaller (Austria).