Slipshod Spurs throw away a golden start to life in Europe

Werder Bremen 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2

However and wherever Tottenham's challenge in the Champions League finishes – and the anthem "Spurs are on their way to Wembley" sounded a little premature about reaching the final last night – the ride will be an exciting and unpredictable one. Spurs were 6-3 winners on aggregate to qualify for the group stage, and here they threw away an early two-goal lead and with it the chance to top Group A this morning.

On a wet night in northern Germany, Werder Bremen, regular Champions League contestants, at least for the group stage, lived up to their reputation as enterprising opponents who are just as likely to concede as to score. It all made for compelling entertainment and although the London side would have settled for an away draw before the game, they will be disappointed to have finished the evening as they did.

Gareth Bale remained outstanding throughout, confirming his remarkable maturity, but Aaron Lennon disappeared in the second half and the goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini continued an unimpressive run; Rafael van der Vaart, booed for his Hamburg connection, worked hard in the first half but was withdrawn after 49 minutes with a calf strain.

Aside from individual Spurs performances, however, the key was the goal that Werder scored just before half-time, bringing new belief to the home players and the crowd. A second goal duly followed within five minutes.

"It was a perfect first 43 minutes," the Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said. "We were fantastic in the first half. Then we concede just before half-time when they're struggling to live with us, and it gives them a lifeline. I couldn't ask for any more than we did today, except a win."

It was true that, having been three goals down inside the first 28 minutes of their play-off round game against Young Boys, Tottenham could have been three to the good in the same time here. They clearly preferred the feel of damp natural grass under their feet to the artificial surface in Switzerland.

Forced to do without the spine of a team in Heurelho Gomes, Michael Dawson, Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe, Redknapp decided Van der Vaart could cope with a second start in four days, but the equally experienced William Gallas, who had also made his debut at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, was left out. As the Spurs coaches suspected, Werder brought in a second striker in the Portuguese World Cup player Hugo Almeida, but not until Marko Marin's shot was charged down after 26 minutes was there a threat to the Tottenham goal.

By that time Spurs had scored twice, adding to the discomfort of home supporters in the standing section behind that goal with no roof to protect them from the rain. Lennon and Bale had already made encouraging early incursions down the flanks and it was from the left wing that both goals stemmed. After 12 minutes, Benoit Assou- Ekotto sent Bale away and the Finland international defender Petri Pasanen, caught on the wrong side of Peter Crouch, jabbed the ball past his own goalkeeper in trying to recover.

Crouch was there first for the next goal six minutes later, however. The man referred to in the local press as "the two-metre man" used all his height for once in leaping to meet a cross by Van der Vaart, who had received possession from Jermaine Jenas, an unexpected inclusion in midfield.

Bale was twice foiled by keeper Tim Wiese but just as Spurs seemed to be in complete command of the game, they conceded a poor goal. Wesley chipped from left to right and Almeida was able to head in from inside the six-yard area.

Werder had made an attacking substitution after 36 minutes in bringing on Aaron Hunt, who drew a good save from Cudicini in the first minute of the second half just before the equaliser arrived. Younes Kaboul's tackle diverted the ball to Marin, who cut in from the left before shooting low.

Redknapp responded by replacing Van der Vaart with Robbie Keane and the play continued to flow swiftly from end to end. Almeida, Marin and Hunt all came close, although from Tottenham's best move of the half late on, Keane put Crouch in to clip a shot just past the far post. It was tense, but they had at least survived at a ground where Chelsea, Real Madrid and Juventus have all perished in the past.

Werder Bremen (4-1-2-1-2): Wiese; Fritz, Proedl, Pasanen, Silvestre; Frings; Bargfrede (Hunt, 36), Wesley (Borowski, 67); Marin; Arnautovic, Almeida.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Cudicini; Corluka, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Jenas, Bale; Van der Vaart (Keane, 49); Crouch.

Referee M Busacca (Switzerland).

Group A

Results so far: FC Twente 2 Internazionale 2, W Bremen 2 Tottenham 2.

Tottenham's remaining fixtures: 29 Sep FC Twente (h); 20 Oct Internazionale (a); 2 Nov Internazionale (h); 24 Nov Werder Bremen (h); 7 Dec FC Twente (a).

* Internazionale began the defence of their Champions League crown in unconvincing style by taking the lead and then coming from behind to draw 2-2 in rainy Enschede. Wesley Sneijder put the visitors ahead when he slotted in after Diego Milito's shot was saved. The hosts hit back with a fine Theo Janssen free-kick before Milito glanced in an own goal from a corner. Inter reacted well, Samuel Eto'o firing in a long-range equaliser after 41 minutes.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone