BBC Sport football


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 19:51 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

NEC Nijmegen 0-1 Tottenham

By Sam Lyon

Jamie O'Hara heads home
O'Hara's charge into the box is rewarded as he heads in the opener

Jamie O'Hara's 14th-minute goal proved enough to earn Tottenham a deserved win in Holland and put them on the brink of reaching the last 32 of the Uefa Cup.

The young midfielder was on hand to nod home from close range after Fraizer Campbell had poked Gareth Bale's low cross onto the underside of the bar.

O'Hara twice came close to a second with long-rangers, while Darren Bent forced a good save with a smart header.

NEC came closest when Heurelho Gomes saved from Moestafa El-Kabir's shot.

The victory puts Spurs on six points in Group D, virtually assuring them of qualifying with a home match against Spartak Moscow to come.

It was a far from vintage display from Spurs, with NEC more than holding their own in possession only to be found wanting in the final third.

But boss Harry Redknapp will be happy enough to come through the match unscathed having made six changes to the side that beat Blackburn on Sunday, with four under-18s on the bench.

It has been a remarkable renaissance by Spurs under Redknapp, but that did not stop NEC coach Mario Been from taunting his opponents before the game, labelling them a "long-ball" team.

There was nothing "long-ball" about Spurs' opener, though, David Bentley brilliantly freeing Bale down the right, the Welshman's low cross poked onto the bar by Campbell but headed home on the rebound by O'Hara.

It was just the early goal Spurs would have wanted but NEC, eighth in the Eredivisie, were certainly not going to be overrun and the hosts pushed and probed throughout the first half.

El-Kabir came closest to an equaliser when his drive was well saved by under-fire Spurs keeper Gomes, although it took a brilliant clearance from Chris Gunter to deny Jhon van Beukering on the follow-up.

Despite the effervescence of Lorenzo Davids in midfield, NEC's lack of quality in the final third soon became apparent and it took a fine save from Gabor Babos in the home goal to deny O'Hara's firm drive and keep his side in the match.

A tweak at half-time saw Bentley switched from a free role to the right-wing slot and his cross found Bent at the start of the half, only for the striker's header to be tipped over.

While it remained 1-0 there was always the chance NEC could get back into it but, in truth, Spurs were always comfortable and another O'Hara effort again brought Gabos into action.

At the other end, Jonathan Woodgate did well to poke the ball away with Beukering lurking with intent in the box, but it was a rare moment of alarm in the Tottenham box.

Substitute Aaron Lennon forced a decent save from Babos in the closing minutes but by then it was job done by Spurs, with a return to Premier League action - and Redknapp's priority - on the horizon against Everton on Sunday.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp:
"It wasn't a fantastic display but, while I'm not making excuses, the pitch wasn't great to be honest and it certainly wasn't easy to move it around.

"I thought we did OK in a diamond formation first half, with Bentley free, but with the pitch as it was we switched 4-4-2 in the second and we were comfortable.

"We were strong and solid throughout, though, and I never felt in any danger. That's six points for us and job done."

NEC: Babos, Dani Fernandez (Tshibamba 81), Wisgerhof, Zomer, El Akchaoui, Radomski (Kivuvu 46), Sibum (Bouaouzan 65), Davids, Schone, Van Beukering, Kabir.
Subs Not Used: Baart, Pothuizen, Otten, Janssen.

Booked: Davids.

Tottenham: Gomes, Gunter, Dawson, Woodgate, Bale, Bentley (Mason 90), Zokora, Huddlestone, O'Hara, Bent (Lennon 71), Campbell (Obika 83).
Subs Not Used: Cesar, Assou-Ekotto, Bostock, Smith.

Goals: O'Hara 14.

Att: 12,500

Ref: Cesar Muniz Fernandez (Spain).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Tottenham's Jamie O'Hara 7.81 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

Print Sponsor

see also
Uefa Cup as it happened
27 Nov 08 |  Europe

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites