Iversen's spot-kick steals the initiative

Ginola's inspirational performance helps Spurs gain advantage over Kaiserslautern
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Tottenham Hotspur 1 Kaiserslautern 0

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Kaiserslautern 0

TOTTENHAM MARKED the occasion of their 50th home tie in European football - of which only one, against Real Madrid, was lost - by obtaining a narrow, though fully deserved lead last night to take to south-west Germany in a week's time. The Uefa Cup second round, first leg tie, put back from last Thursday because of fixture complications involving Kaiserslautern and Bayern Munich, was much closer to the European experience that White Hart Lane has come to love down the years than Spurs' stroll past Zimbru of Moldova in the first round.

A slightly fortuitous penalty, earned by David Ginola and converted by Steffen Iversen, was required to win it, but that was minimal reward for an inspiring display by the Frenchman, who was close to his dazzling best throughout. The Tottenham manager, George Graham, said: "David is exciting: he can win you matches."

He effectively won this one by tumbling down as the goalkeeper, Andreas Reinke, made a rash challenge in the 32nd minute. "My players told me he dived," said Kaiserslautern's coach, Otto Rehhagel. "He was waiting for his chance to dive before the ball ran out."

The critical incident came just after Ginola had sent Iversen in for what should have been the opening goal, only for Reinke to parry the Norwegian's poor effort. Ginola, who can tend towards a Johnny Haynes-like impatience with those less abundantly gifted than himself, then picked up the ball from Ruel Fox, and, declining to let anyone else have it, sprinted past a defender into the area before biting the dust. The Turkish referee was sufficiently impressed to award a penalty, which Iversen, permitted to take the kick, hit low into a corner of the net.

With Chris Perry back in place of Luke Young to stiffen their defence, Tottenham stuck to the flexible formation that had unhinged Manchester United on Saturday, with Fox and Ginola on the flanks and Iversen up the middle. It was evident from the start that the French virtuoso was in the mood, turning the right-sided defenders every which way as Tottenham ensured that he saw plenty of possession. A cleverly placed corner for Mauricio Taricco might have brought a goal as early as the third minute, the full-back hitting it hard against the outside of a post. A corner from the other side, by Fox, was then met by Sol Campbell's firm header, which Reinke just blocked before Martin Wagner hacked clear.

Rehhagel, clearly unhappy, made two changes at half-time, but Ginola soon had the home supporters in a crowd of 35,000 back on their feet. In the 53rd minute he shimmied in from the left and curled a delicious shot against the inside of the far post. Ginola's effectiveness - much higher than on other occasions - had the additional benefit of forcing the visitors into employing a back-four rather than their intended threesome, since handling him was a full-time occupation for the wing-back Axel Roos. He eventually retired, looking dizzy, and Egypt's Hany Ramzy took on the stressful job of guard, with marginally more success.

Kaiserslautern, German champions in 1998, immediately after winning promotion back to the Bundesliga, have had a poor start to the domestic season, winning only three games out of nine and sliding into the bottom six amid an acrimonious falling-out between Rehhagel and the captain, Ciri Sforza. Handicapped by the absence of France's World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff, they did not often threaten, forcing Ian Walker into nothing much more than a couple of saves.

Graham, a manager who knows his history as well as his European football, may be aware that Tottenham have never lost a first-leg lead against foreign opposition. Asked if a 1-0 lead would be sufficient for the second game, he almost bristled in answering simply: "Yes!"

Tottenham Hotspur (4-5-1): Walker; Carr, Campbell, Perry, Taricco; Fox (Clemence, 89), Freund, Leonhardsen, Sherwood, Ginola; Iversen. Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Vega, Edinburgh, Young, Dominguez, Piercy.

Kaiserslautern (3-5-2): Reinke; Ramzy, Koch, Schjönberg; Ratinho (Buck, h-t), Roos (Komljenovic, 73), Sforza, Strasser, Wagner (Reich, h-t); Marschall, Hristov. Substitutes not used: Gospodarek (gk), Petterson, Sobotzik.

Referee: O Erdemir (Turkey).

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