Young Spurs dig in for point

A youthful Tottenham side emerged with a hard-fought 0-0 draw in their Europa League Group A clash against PAOK Salonika at Toumba Stadium.

Last Updated: 15/09/11 at 20:34 Post Comment

Falque: Tumbles to the ground

Falque: Tumbles to the ground

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Carlo Cudicini was called upon to make three fine saves at the death and Vladimir Ivic rattled the Italian's bar in stoppage time amid a white-hot atmosphere in Greece.

Lino missed a re-taken first-half penalty for the hosts while debutant Yago Falque twice went close for Tottenham and Harry Kane might have been awarded an earlier spot-kick after being brought down in the box.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, with one eye on Sunday's game against Liverpool, made 10 changes to his side, giving the likes of Falque, Kane and Andros Townsend a chance to impress.

The Spurs team, with an average age of 23, entered the pitch to a deafening roar after being taunted constantly by the home fans during the warm-up.

PAOK's supporters, known as some of the most passionate in Europe, did not relent once the match started, but Spurs settled easily, keeping the ball well.

After a slow opening, the match took 15 minutes to spark in to life. The visitors almost took the lead when Jake Livermore broke into the box and dodged the advancing goalkeeper to square to Falque, but his shot was cleared off the line by PAOK skipper Pablo Contreras.

The loud, bare-chested fanatical support behind the home goal urged PAOK on and they grew in confidence. Vieirinha twice came close to scoring, with Vedran Corluka putting in a well-timed block to deny the winger.

Tottenham should have been awarded a penalty in the 28th minute when Contreras brought down Kane in the box with a late sliding tackle, but referee Milorad Mazic booked the 18-year-old for diving instead.

Mazic then gave a penalty at the other end on the half-hour when Cudicini rushed out to bring down Stefanos Athanasiadis in the box.

Mazic booked Cudicini and Lino beat the Italian by firing home down the middle. The referee made the defender take the penalty again, though, after he decided that at least one home player had entered the box. Lino put his second spot-kick wide, much to the frustration of the home support.

PAOK lost their discipline, with two players receiving bookings, before Roman Pavlyuchenko's fierce 20-yard free-kick flew just over in the 41st minute.

PAOK started the second half the much more confident of the two sides.

Dimitris Salpingidis burst into the box, drawing out Cudicini but his square ball was gathered by Livermore, who sped away from Giorgos Fotakis before the winger hacked the youngster down from behind to earn a booking.

PAOK keeper Dario Kresic wandered out of his area to pursue Pavlyuchenko but the Russian wriggled free to square to Falque, who curled a shot agonisingly close to the right-hand corner of the empty goal.

At the other end Stefanos Athanasiadis got on the end of Salpingidis' cross but shot over from eight yards under pressure from his marker.

The atmosphere in the stadium had dampened slightly before Garcia skipped past two players and fired just wide to wake the home fans up.

Corluka clattered into Lino on the edge of the box to earn a booking and gift PAOK a dangerous free-kick which they wasted, with Contreras skying Garcia's cross.

Tom Carroll was booked for taking a free-kick before the whistle 12 minutes from time and the referee brought the game to a stop to allow Giovani dos Santos to receive treatment after a late tackle by Lino.

Redknapp brought on Ryan Fredericks for his second Tottenham appearance in the place of the impressive Falque, who was unlucky not to leave the pitch with a debut goal.

The game entered a lull towards the end before Cudicini suddenly had to make two excellent diving saves to deny Ivic and Athanasiadis with seven minutes left.

Cudicini was on hand once more to deny Vieirinha in stoppage time with a fine stop as PAOK sensed a late winner.

Redknapp sought to disrupt the Greeks' dominance by bringing on 19-year-old Dean Parrett, but the tactic did not work as Ivic then came close to finding a winner when he rattled Cudicini's bar from Vieirinha's cross.

PAOK kept on pushing but Spurs held on to start their group campaign with a valuable point.

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