A first-half goal from Jermaine Jenas gave lacklustre Tottenham the advantage in their Uefa Cup first round first leg here last night over a poor Slavia Prague side on the north London club's return to the European stage.
Spurs produced a performance that mirrored their rather inauspicious start to the Premiership campaign. Without the services of England winger Aaron Lennon - who will have surgery on his knee tomorrow that will keep him out for six weeks - Martin Jol's men were strangely lacking in passion against their inexperienced opponents, but the manager was delighted nonetheless.
"It was the best result you could wish for," he said, "to win 1-0 away from home. It was a good goal - Jenas can do that, he can score goals and that is what you want in away games in Europe."
Slavia may not have possessed the same kind of quality as their illustrious opponents but they matched the Premiership side for effort and endeavour in all departments in the opening 20 minutes.
Paul Robinson was first forced into action when Dusan Svento's promising run and cross forced the England goalkeeper to punch the ball clear.
On the half-hour Spurs forced Prague's substitute goalkeeper Matus Kozacik into action just moments after he'd replaced injured Michal Vorel. Kozacik dived to his right to ensure Pascal Chimbonda's header did not find its way into the corner after the Spurs right-back had met Jenas's corner at the far post.
Spurs finally took the lead with their first clever move of the game in the 38th minute - and it was made entirely by the powerful run of Didier Zokora. The Ivorian ran fully 50 yards unchallenged before laying the ball off to the waiting Jenas, who drilled a low shot into the bottom corner for his second goal of the season.
The powerful Zokora produced another 60-yard run after the break before delivering a clever cross onto the head of Jermain Defoe. The England man brought a save from Kozacik with a deft header which lacked the power to beat him. But Zokora's contribution to the midfield was the main plus point for Spurs as he began to produce the kind of form which prompted the club to spend £8.2m.
Slavia then enjoyed their best spell of the game and almost got back on level terms in the 61st minute when Tomas Hrdlicka sent a left-foot effort just wide of Robinson's right-hand post.
But Spurs had done enough to take a crucial away goal lead back to White Hart Lane for the return leg on 28 September, although the performance was not really the stuff on which their European traditions had been founded.
Slavia Prague (4-4-2): Vorel (Kozacik, 26), Svec, Latka, Suchy, Hubacek, Janda, Jarolim, Hrdlicka, Svento, Vlcek, Gaucho (Fort, 62). Substitutes not used: Dosoudil, Gecov, Necas, Necid, Aracic.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Jenas, Huddlestone (Davids, 71), Zokora, Tainio, Defoe (Keane, 78), Mido. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Lee, Stalteri, Ziegler, Davenport.
Referee: H Piccirillo (France).Reuse content