Young Spurs fail to cheer up old Harry

Rubin Kazan 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0

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The Independent Football

As Harry Redknapp sat convalescing at home 2,000 miles away, a youthful Tottenham were unable to give their manager a tonic as Bibras Natcho's superb free-kick ended Spurs' two-month, 11-game unbeaten run in central Russia last night. Spurs were indebted to Carlo Cudicini for keeping the score down as the Londoners sank to third in Europa League Group A, but qualification remains in their hands.

 

"They are a very good side with good players and in the end just one goal made the difference" Redknapp's assistant, Kevin Bond, said. "It is still in our hands to qualify and we feel confident we will."

Redknapp left hospital yesterday after a procedure to unblock two coronary arteries, the 64-year-old having two stents inserted. Bond and the first-team coach, Joe Jordan, stood in for the manager in the Republic of Tatarstan, but Redknapp may attend Sunday's league trip to Fulham in some capacity.

Bond and Jordan opted for 11 changes from the side that beat QPR last Sunday, including first appearances of the season for Steven Pienaar and William Gallas. Cudicini was preferred in goal, with Heurelho Gomes left to babysit the six teenagers he found himself among on the bench.

Tom Carroll's displays have earned him an England Under-21 call-up and the diminutive midfielder displayed some neat touches as Spurs stroked the ball around in the early stages, with Pienaar and Iago Falque also catching the eye. But soon Kazan enjoyed a prolonged period of pressure. Alan Kasaev took charge in midfield with Christian Noboa and Natcho – influential in Kazan's 1-0 defeat at White Hart Lane a fortnight ago – breaking forward as Spurs' makeshift full-backs struggled.

Kasaev shot over on 22 minutes before Gallas cleared from in front of Obafemi Martins as the hosts threatened. A Noboa shot was touched over by the Italian after Gokdeniz Karadeniz drove in from the right and the keeper denied the same man two minutes later before stopping from Salvatore Bocchetti.

For Spurs, Roman Pavlyuchenko just failed to connect with Jermain Defoe's cross before the break as Kazan turned around on top but scoreless. Their first-half efforts were rewarded 10 minutes after the break, however, as Sebastien Bassong went into the book for a foul on Alexander Ryazantsev. From the resulting free-kick Natcho curled a fine shot over the wall to beat Cudicini.

Bassong was remorseful after the match. "What can I say?" he said. "I told the lads 'I'm sorry.' I should have cleared the ball [but] I didn't see him coming."

Defoe had a shot blocked before injury forced Gallas off early on his return. Ryazantsev then forced Cudicini to continue his defiant display, tipping over from 25 yards and Karadeniz also went close.

Rubin Kazan (4-4-2): Ryzhikov; Cesar Navas, Bocchetti, Sharonov, Kaleshin; Ryazantsev (Eremenko, 89), Kasaev (Ansaldi, 83), Noboa, Karadeniz; Natcho, Martins (Valdez, 65). Subs not used Arlauskis (gk), Kverkvelia, Kuzmin, Orazsakhedov.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Cudicini; Fredericks, Bassong, Gallas (Parrett, 72), Townsend; Falque, Carroll, Livermore, Pienaar; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko (Kane, 75). Subs not used Gomes (gk), Nicholson, Pritchard, Lancaster, Stewart.

Referee F Meyer (Germany).

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