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 even though they failed to get the win they wanted to kick-start their season.
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 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.
Their captain, Ledley King, said: "We've had a good result in the Carling Cup and now we are through in the Uefa Cup so hopefully things can pick up. We showed some character."
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 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. A huge banner read "God Save The Queen" at one end, although Wisla were hardly making Spurs feel at home, and they 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 after Tomas Jirsak had laid the ball back to the edge of the penalty area. It was Jirsak's final contribution of the tie, with Wojciech Lobodzinski coming on for Wisla's scorer at White Hart Lane in the first leg.
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 pressure Wisla were exerting, and Campbell had a crucial role in Spurs' goal in the 58th minute. Looking to get on the end of Gareth Bale's cross from the left, Campbell put enough pressure on Glowacki for him to put through his own net, the ball trickling past Mariusz Pawelek.
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 on to Diaz's pass and lobbed Gomes with seven minutes left – and then should have sent the tie into extra time but headed straight at Spurs' goalkeeper. 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).