Slavia Prague 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2: Fast-starting Tottenham stutter after Cerny gaffe

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The Independent Football

Minus three on the pitch, plus one on the scoreboard. But a big negative mark for Radek Cerny. In plummeting temperatures Spurs won, but their goalkeeper lost. Again. Having witnessed the howlers of Paul Robinson there was a real blooper from the Czech Cerny on his return to his former club. It was even reminiscent of the mistakes made by the man he replaced, failing to deal with a speculative punt forward.

Maybe it was nerves but it will confirm, further, the thoughts of head coach Juande Ramos that he needs a reliable new goalkeeper. In a week in which he has, again, talked about cutting the fat from his players – making them leaner and lighter – there is flab between the sticks that needs to be trimmed. Never mind cream cakes, this threatened to be a custard pie in the face. And there was surplus, too, in the performance as Spurs wasted chance after chance against a side who have not played a competitive match for two months due to the prolonged winter break.

Ramos admitted it was "quite possible" that his goalkeeper had been affected by the occasion. "Mistakes can happen," he said. "That is the world of football and today it was the turn of Cerny. He seemed more nervous than normal." In the end that was a collective malaise. Spurs were hanging on and could only watch, helplessly, as Slavia captain Erich Brabec crashed a header against the crossbar when he should have salvaged the most unlikely of draws.

Still it shouldn't be overlooked that Spurs won away, in tricky conditions, and a passage into the last 16 of the Uefa Cup is in sight for Ramos, who is aiming for a hat-trick of titles.

It should have been so very different. Spurs' supremacy was confirmed as early as the fourth minute by the simplest of strikes from Dimitar Berbatov. After Jermaine Jenas's run was halted the ball broke to the Bulgarian 20 yards out and he instantly drilled it low beyond goalkeeper Martin Vaniak.

He was beaten, again, on the half-hour. Again Jenas was involved. Picked out by Huddlestone he drove forward, was fouled but still managed to squeeze the ball through to Keane who, cleverly in space, calmly stroked it around Vaniak.

With a re-shaped defence – the badly-needed Ledley King made it no further than the bench and sat alongside Younes Kaboul – Didier Zokora, just returned from the African Cup of Nations, was stationed in central defence. He was nowhere, however, as Mickael Tavares glanced a header over. It offered encouragement and that rose dramatically when Cerny misjudged David Hubacek's deep cross. Instead of turning it over the bar he presented it at the feet of David Strihavka who gleefully nudged it over the line. The striker fluffed two more chances as Spurs held on – but Cerny's grip on his own position was loosened.

Slavia Prague (4-2-3-1): Vaniak; Drizdal, Brabec, Latka, Hubacek; Suchy, Tavares; Jarolim (Kalivoda, 59), Cerny, Pudil (Ivana, h-t); Strihavka. Substitutes not used: Vorel (gk), Sourek, Belaid, Volesak.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Cerny; Tainio (O'Hara, 59), Woodgate, Zokora, Chimbonda; Lennon, Huddlestone, Jenas, Malbranque; Keane, Berbatov. Substitutes not used: Robinson (gk), Lee, Kaboul, Taarabt, Bent, King.

Referee: C Circhetta (Switzerland).

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