Tottenham Hotspur battled their way through to the Uefa Cup group stage last night after a resilient performance in the second leg of their first-round tie against Wisla Krakow.
Arkadiusz Glowacki's own goal just before the hour mark at Stadion Wisly extended Spurs' 2-1 lead from the first leg, with Pawel Brozek's late strike for the home side setting up a tense finale.
They may be bottom of the Premier League in their worst start for 53 years – but their head coach, Juande Ramos, is a Uefa Cup specialist and they managed to hold on to their slender one-goal advantage. Tottenham now face Hull City at the weekend, looking for their first league win, before next Tuesday's draw for the group stage.
"At this moment, the important thing is qualification, which is the same [as a win]," said Ramos. "There was no euphoria, it was just a sense of getting the job done. To play another four matches in the competition for the club is very important. Most important now is Hull and we need to get off the bottom quickly.
"I think the team is playing OK. The victory is very good for the team and match-to-match we need to improve. Two or three victories and I'm sure the mentality of players will change."
Ramos hardly gave the impression he wanted to sit on Spurs' 2-1 lead from the opening leg when he sent out striker Fraizer Campbell for his first start, with Darren Bent also in attack. It meant that Didier Zokora was the only defensive-minded player in a midfield welcoming back the playmaker Luka Modric following knee trouble.
Ramos also had Ledley King back in defence, with the captain's presence more significant when the hosts gathered momentum at the end of each half. The Polish champions looked to Junior Diaz to exploit the right of Spurs' defence, where Chris Gunter had replaced Vedran Corluka. Diaz crossed dangerously from the left, with King required to clear, then he went over the crossbar with an effort from long distance.
There was a noisy atmosphere generated from the home fans although, with one side of the ground being renovated for Euro 2012, it was not as hostile as anticipated. Yet Wisla should have been ahead in the 20th minute. Glowacki, the captain, lofted the ball through to Mauro Cantoro, but the midfielder rushed his finish and failed to connect. Brozek got closer for the hosts just before the half-hour mark, drilling straight at Heurelho Gomes
Jonathan Woodgate, who picked up a needless booking for impeding the goalkeeper, and King were almost exposed before the interval. Radoslaw Sobolewski raced through, but Gomes saved with his feet. The Brazilian goalkeeper also blocked from Diaz.
The half-time whistle halted the Wisla pressure, with Campbell then helping Spurs to take control. He had the first chance of the second half, lashing over from the edge of the penalty area after Modric had wriggled in from the left and played the striker into space. The man on loan from Manchester United had a crucial role in Spurs' 58th-minute goal.
Looking to get on the end of Gareth Bale's cross from the left, Campbell put enough pressure on Glowacki for the Wisla captain to put through his own net, the ball trickling past goalkeeper Mariusz Pawelek at the far post.
Zokora should have added another, which would have been his first for the club, when he carried the ball 50 yards but went wide with his finish. Brozek latched onto Diaz's pass and lobbed Gomes with seven minutes left – and then should have sent the tie into extra time but headed straight at the Tottenham keeper. Desperate defending saw Spurs through.
Wisla Krakow (4-4-2): Pawelek; Baszczynski, Glowacki, Cleber, Piotr Brozek; Boguski (Guedes Filho, 82), Cantoro (Zienczuk, 66), Sobolewski, Diaz; Jirsak (Lobodzinski, 32), Pawel Brozek. Substitutes not used: Juszczyk, Singlar, Niedzielan, Barreto.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Gunter, King, Woodgate, Bale; Lennon (Dawson, 88), Zokora, Jenas, Modric (Huddlestone, 77); Campbell (O'Hara, 68), Bent. Substitutes not used: Cesar, Bentley, Giovani, Assou-Ekotto.
Referee: A Tudor (Romania).Reuse content