Spurs go top of Group A
Tottenham leapfrogged Rubin Kazan at the top of Europa League Group A following their 1-0 victory over the Russian side.
Last Updated: 21/10/11 8:38am
Tottenham Hotspur leapfrogged Rubin Kazan at the top of Europa League Group A following their 1-0 victory over the Russian side on Thursday evening.
A stunning free-kick from Roman Pavlyuchenko on 33 minutes proved to be the difference at White Hart Lane and helped Harry Redknapp's side take control of the group with seven points from three matches.
Both teams had chances to add to the tally during the course of the 90 minutes with Rubin coming close on a number of occasions in the second half, but the Russians failed to breach the hosts' defence.
Spurs looked poor and their play was disjointed at times, but the Londoners will now head to Russia for the return fixture next month with a comfortable cushion at the top of the table.
With Redknapp intent on keeping his first-team regulars rested for Sunday's game at Blackburn, Pavlyuchenko was given a chance to push his case for a regular slot.
The Russian showed he was up for the game early on when he charged at the Rubin defence before firing a 25-yard drive just wide of Sergey Ryzhikov's goal.
However, Rubin, famed for their Champions League win at Barcelona two years ago, proved more than a match for the hosts in the opening exchanges.
Roman Sharonov leapt unchallenged to power a header just wide of Heurelho Gomes' goal and the Brazilian goalkeeper then denied Gokdeniz Karadeniz from eight yards with a brilliant athletic tip-over from Christian Noboa's cross.
Spurs were struggling to get into the game, with Aaron Lennon clearly lacking confidence to take on his man down the right flank.
The home side also lacked urgency at times, but sprung into life when captain Sebastien Bassong stormed forward to find Defoe, who clipped a looping shot just inches wide of the Rubin goal.
Minutes later Nelson Valdez should have put the away side ahead at the other end, but he miscued his effort into Gomes' arms.
Sandro put in a series of crunching tackles to deny Rubin as the match entered a lull.
The home crowd were quiet but they soon woke from their slumber thanks to Pavlyuchenko's opener.
Danny Rose won a free-kick on the edge of the box and, after what seemed like an eternity waiting for the wall to move back 10 yards, Pavlyuchenko confidently strode up to the ball and powered a blistering strike that flew in off the bar.
The 29-year-old celebrated what was his second strike of the season in front of the small pocket of Rubin fans.
Pavlyuchenko almost grabbed his second in the last minute of the first half but Ryzhikov tipped the striker's deflected shot around the post.
Ryzhikov blocked Bassong's header just after the break as Spurs looked to grab a decisive second goal, before Gomes pulled off another athletic stop to deny Alexandre Ryazantsev at the other end.
The former PSV man then raised the tension among home fans by hurtling out of his box to hoof clear a dangerous Rubin ball that drifted over the Tottenham defence.
With an hour gone, Rubin manager Kerban Berdyev brought on former Newcastle and Birmingham man Obafemi Martins for Alan Kasaev.
Nelson Valdez then pinched the ball off Danny Rose on the edge of the Spurs box and squared to Noboa but his deflected shot crept just wide.
Spurs continued to be forced onto the back foot and Ryazantsev found Oleg Kuzmin inside the box, but Lennon put in a brilliant well-timed challenge just as the full-back was about to shoot from 10 yards.
The Russian visitors were looking the more likely of the two teams to score and Ryazantsev drew another save from Gomes with 20 minutes left.
Ryzhikov then pulled off a good save to deny Defoe after Lennon had beat his marker to whip in a good delivery from the right flank.
Sloppy defending allowed Martins into the box late on, but Kaboul came to the rescue with a crucial block to deflect the Nigerian's shot wide. Valdez then headed wide from eight yards from the resulting corner.
Rose thought he should have had a penalty when he was brought down in the Rubin box during a rare Spurs attack, but the referee waved play on.The home crowd had to endure three nervous injury-time minutes, but Tottenham held on for the win.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Rubin Kazan|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||7|
|2||Shots off Target||5|