Tottenham focus on final after exit from Europe

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Shakhtar Donetsk 1 (Shakhtar Donetsk won 3-1 on aggregate)
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The Independent Football

It would be stretching it to suggest this aggregate defeat was greeted with relief by Tottenham, but the end of their Uefa Cup campaign was relatively painless. Victory would have further congested Spurs' fixture list, with an away tie on CSKA Moscow's plastic pitch particularly unwelcome. It would also have required Harry Redknapp to field at least half of the XI due to play Manchester United in the Carling Cup final on Sunday.

As it was, his makeshift XI put in a spirited performance which nearly produced an improbable victory. When Giovani scored his first goal for Spurs since the Mexican's summer move from Barcelona an unlikely comeback seemed on, but Shakhtar Donetsk's superior class told when Fernandinho levelled to secure a 3-1 aggregate victory with four minutes left. Unlike Spurs, the Ukrainians will relish a trip to Moscow, which became the reward once Aston Villa lost to CSKA a few hours before this tie.

Redknapp had determined his team before then and the pretence that this tie was anything other than a distraction ahead of Sunday was dispelled by his selection. In attack was Jonathan Obika, 18, making his full debut. The bench was a crèche, the seven subs having played 112 minutes between them for Spurs. John Bostock had also made a handful of appearances for Crystal Palace but at 17 was hardly a veteran. Of the XI only Heurelho Gomes will start at Wembley.

After an uncertain start Redknapp's mix of reserves and youngsters gave them plenty to cheer. After Willian and Fernandinho had come close, Wilson Palacios and Jamie O'Hara took control midfield. Obika twice sent confident shots just wide and Gareth Bale failed to convert a fine opportunity. The pressure told 11 minutes into the second period when Fraizer Campbell turned Bale's clever pass into the path of Giovani, who lashed a 20-yard shot past Pyatov. The Italian referee was then in error as Campbell was felled in the box. Donetsk finally roused themselves and, after Gomes denied Marcelo Moreno, Fernandinho took advantage of a Bostock error to score.

"I though we were terrific and very unlucky not to go through," said Redknapp. "It was a definite penalty. Fraizer was pushed by one and chopped by the other. Should I have put senior players on the bench? It is easy to say that in hindsight. I have to make decisions at the time."

Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-2-1): Gomes; Gunter, Chimbonda, Huddlestone, Gilberto (Bostock, 76); Palacios, O'Hara (Parrett, 71), Bale; Obika, Giovani; Campbell. Substitutes not used: Jansson (gk), Smith, Butcher, Mason, Townsend.

Shakhtar Donetsk (4-2-3-1): Pyatov; Srna, Ishchenko, Chygrynskyy, Rat; Fernandinho, Lewandowski; Jadson, Ilsinho (Gay, 80), Willian (Hubschman, h-t); Gladkyy (Moreno, 60). Substitutes not used: Khudzhamov (gk), Kucher, Duljaj, Seleznov.

Referee: P Tagliavento (It).

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