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Thursday 8 December 2016

Spurs struck by Wembley curse

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Monaco 2

Spurs celebrate their goal
Spurs celebrate their goal

First-half goals by Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar earned Monaco a surprise 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in their Champions League Group E opener at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday to silence the London club's record 'home' attendance.

Goals from Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar stunned the vast majority of the 85,011 fans at the national stadium -- Tottenham's adopted home for this season's Champions League -- before the hosts responded.

Toby Alderweireld halved the deficit with a header shortly before halftime and Tottenham were much better after the break.

Yet despite plenty of pressure they were unable to find the equaliser as only their second Champions League campaign began in disheartening fashion.

"Scoring creates momentum and we dominated the game in the second half. We had chances but we couldn't score," Spurs defender Alderweireld said. "We put a lot of energy in but we couldn't force it."

Tottenham's record attendance for a 'home' fixture produced a wall of sound under the Wembley arch in the opening minutes as Mauricio Pochettino's team started quickly.

But near silence descended on the huge stadium when Monaco took the lead with their first real incursion after 15 minutes following an error by Erik Lamela.

The Argentine playmaker carelessly gave the ball away in his own half and Portugal international Bernardo Silva ran on unopposed before smashing a shot past Hugo Lloris.

The hosts struggled to regain any momentum on the wide expanses of Wembley's pitch and Monaco looked increasingly comfortable on a sultry night that felt more like the Riviera than London.

The visitors doubled their lead in the 31st minute with a goal Tottenham's defence will not want to view again.

Djibril Sidibe slung in a hopeful cross and it rebounded off the body of Spurs left back Ben Davies. As the ball dropped down Monaco substitute Lemar, on for the injured Nabil Dirar, reacted quickest and shot high into the roof of the net.

A tiny travelling pod of Monaco fans numbering no more than 350 celebrated at the other end but it was the vast home majority who found their voices again just before halftime when Lamela's corner was headed powerfully home by Alderweireld.

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