Spurs through after stalemate

Luka Modric was conspicuous by his absence as Tottenham drew 0-0 with Hearts to progress to the Europa League group stage 5-0 on aggregate.

Last Updated: 25/08/11 at 22:36 Post Comment

Townsend: In action for Spurs against Hearts

Townsend: In action for Spurs against Hearts

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A week ago the gulf had been cavernous between the two sides as Tottenham rattled in five goals at Tynecastle.

But with both sides packed with young guns there was nothing to choose between them as Hearts restored some pride in Scottish football with a lively performance full of guts and desire.

They were helped by 18-year-old Tottenham midfielder Harry Kane who had a debut to forget, missing a first-half penalty when goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald saved his spot-kick low down to his right.

For Harry Redknapp's men it was a far cry from the heady nights of the Champions League last season when they entertained Inter Milan and AC Milan as well as Real Madrid at White Hart Lane.

At times it had the feel of a training knockabout. Quite what Modric would have made of it was anyone's guess. The Croatian midfielder was reported to be having talks, along with his agent, with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

It means he remains not cup-tied for the Champions League which must fuel speculation that a proposed transfer to Chelsea could still go ahead before the transfer window shuts next week.

Redknapp, instead, handed debuts to Kane, Ryan Fredericks and Thomas Carroll while the match provided striker Roman Pavlyuchenko with his first start of the season.

As for Hearts, with one eye on their local derby with Hibernian at the weekend, they made seven changes from the team which was demolished 5-0 at Tynecastle last week.

The onus for the Scots was on pride and redemption and they made a much more determined start, striker Gordon Smith holding off Spurs captain Michael Dawson to send a thumping volley rattling against the crossbar after 12 minutes.

It prompted chants of 'We're going to win 6-0' from the travelling Hearts faithful.

That was never a possibility but, in a match which had the liveliest of feels in the first half but fizzled out in the second, it was Hearts who demonstrated the superior passion.

Their young guns, especially 19-year-olds Ryan McGowan and Scott Robinson, were in Tottenham's faces from the kick-off.

At times Robinson, who snapped away at England's Tom Huddlestone all night, ran the show in midfield.

It was Tottenham, however, who should have made the breakthrough after 29 minutes when Kane slalomed into the penalty area and was brought down by goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.

Kane placed the ball on the spot and must have dreamed of scoring on his debut. He looked cool enough and dispatched a crisp right-foot shot only to see MacDonald redeem himself when he produced a stunning low save down to his right.

Kane should not be too hard on himself. There were six players in the Tottenham squad who had come through the club's academy and Kane was the pick of them alongside 21-year-old Jake Livermore.

Yet if Tottenham's future was on show - and Redknapp has insisted he will play his kids in the group stages of the competition - the night belonged to the Hearts youngsters and their wonderful supporters.

They might have completed a famous victory on the night if David Templeton and Eggert Jonsson had been a little more precise when whipping in left-foot shots which had Carlo Cudicini scrambling in the Tottenham goal.

For Spurs Pavlyuchenko only proved why he is rarely in Redknapp's starting plans, blasting a string of chances high over the crossbar.

In the end, however, Tottenham go into Friday's draw for the group phase, but one thing is certain. They will require much more effort and precision against Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

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