herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Spurs hold on to grab battling Euro point

Tottenham held firm in intimidating conditions to kick off the Europa League group stage with a hard-fought, goalless draw at Partizan Belgrade last night.

Given manager Mauricio Pochettino left five key players in north London for this match, it was always likely to be a tough test.

Spurs lacked creativity but defended resolutely to secure a 0-0 draw in a daunting atmosphere at Partizan Stadium, where some home fans displayed what appeared to be an anti-Semitic banner.

The game began brightly as Harry Kane rattled the crossbar inside the opening two minutes.

That, though, was to prove Spurs' best chance as they struggled to create clear-cut opportunities and spent large parts of the match on the back foot.

DEBUTS

Federico Fazio and Benjamin Stambouli were handed their full debuts as Pochettino shuffled the pack, with Hugo Lloris the only survivor from Saturday's 2-2 draw at Sunderland.

Spurs began well and almost took the lead after 65 seconds.

The ball fell to Kane after a Ben Davies corner, with the striker showing impressive composure to get away a shot from an acute angle, rattling the underside of the bar.

Spurs were a touch fortunate to go in at half-time level after being caught on the counter-attack in stoppage time. Partizan continued on the front foot after the interval and Spurs introduced Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela with 30 minutes remaining as they searched for a spark, which almost worked immediately when the two combined only for the former's cross just to evade Kane.

Pantic and captain Sasa Ilic missed the target as Partizan looked for a winner as the clock wound down.

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