Europa League - Spurs lose thrilling encounter to Dnipro

Europa League, Dnipro Arena - Dnipro 1 (Konoplyanka pen 81') Tottenham 0

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FC Dnipro's Victor Giuliano (L) vies with Tottenham Hotspur FC's Etienne Capoue (AFP)

Tottenham Hotspur will have to come back from a goal down after losing the first leg of their Europa League tie to Dnipro 1-0.

Liverpool target Yehven Konoplyanka scored the only goal from a late penalty, after Jan Vertonghen capped a poor performance by pulling down Dnipro forward Matheus as he broke through on goal. Indeed, the Spurs defender was lucky not to be sent off, even though the foul appeared to occur just outside the box.

Both teams had some fairly big chances in the first half, and both defended rather chaotically. Spurs seemed to be troubled by long balls over the top of their defence, and were almost undone when Matheus was set free in acres of space, with Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose nowhere. Fortunately for Spurs, he took far too long to measure his shot, and Friedel stood firm and saved.

At the other end, Ivan Strinic was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch after bringing down Paulinho just outside the area, after the Brazilian had been put through on goal by Roberto Soldado. However, the referee gave only a yellow card and a free-kick, which Andros Townsend fired just wide.

And in the closing minutes of the first half, Rose was himself fortunate to escape a red card, after he shoved Roman Zozulya over when the Ukrainian was clean through. On that occasion, the referee didn't even award a free-kick.

The second period continued in much the same vain, with both sides as threatening in attack as they were vulnerable in defence. Tottenham's best chance of the game came after Paulinho broke into the box from the right, crossed low for Soldado, who somehow managed to put the ball over an open goal, just five yards out.

Spurs had a goal disallowed after substitute Christian Eriksen was flagged offside, but from that point it was all Dnipro. Indeed, Spurs might consider themselves lucky to only be 1-0 down for the return leg at White Hart Lane, after Zozulya hit the post with a late header and Friedel was forced into a number of fine saves.


PRE-MATCH - Tim Sherwood names a pretty strong starting XI, although the liks of Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Lennon and Christian Eriksen have been given a rest. It will be interesting if the bench is required though, given the number of youngsters there.

24' - Huge chance for Dnipro. A long ball over the top finds Matheus in absolutely acres of space with Spurs vainly claiming offside, he takes his time to measure the finish but Friedel stands tall and blocks the effort. Excellent keeping from the old boy.

26' - Another chance for Dnipro. Spurs make a hash of clearing a ball from the edge of the area, it breaks to Matheus who shoots low, it's saved by Friedel and Zozulya tries to reach the rebound, but he can't quite get there.

41' - Boy, Boyko is a lucky young man. The Dnipro keeper tries to dribble out of his own box, but turns straight into Soldado who tackles him, but can't quite bring the ball under control and Boyko eventually scrambles back and dives on it. Lucky young man.

56' - Oh dear lord. Paulinho brilliantly makes room on the right of the area, advances and squares the ball to Soldado, five yards out, with an empty goal in front of him...and he hits it over.

64' - Oooooh, almost a perfect start for Eriksen - Rose does well breaking from the left, he flicks it through to Eriksen who tucks the ball into the corner, but he was about a yard offside.

79' - PENALTY TO DNIPRO - Matheus and Zozulya exchange passes, and the former breaks through Rose and Vertonghen in the area, and the Belgian pulls him down, clumsily.

81' GOAL - KONOPLYANKA GIVES DNIPRO THE LEAD! Great penalty by the winger, slotting it in off the post, to Friedel's right.


This was the first European game Dnipro have ever won in the second, post-January half of the season.

Spurs had a whopping 65% possession.

Dnipro had 19 shots on goal, six of them on target.


Roberto Soldado's season of disappointment continues - Given a rare chance to impress by Tim Sherwood, it's fair to say Soldado didn't take it. His all-round play actually wasn't too bad, but the Spanish striker wasted a number of chances, the nadir coming when he missed that open goal from five yards out. Of all the money Spurs seemed to waste in the summer, Soldado could be the biggest flop of them all.


Yevhen Konoplyanka (Dnipro) - Liverpool came close to signing the Ukrainian winger in January, and it's easy to see why they were interested. Konoplyanka was a constant threat from the left, causing Kyle Naughton dreadful problems throughout, and was eventually rewarded with the goal.


Dnipro: Boyko 6, Mazuch 7, Strinić 6, Fedetskiy 6, Kankava 6, Giuliano 7, Konoplyanka 8, Cheberyachko 6, Rotan 7, Zozulya 7, Matheus 7. SUBS: Kulakov 5, Politylo 5.

Tottenham: Friedel 8; Naughton 5, Dawson 5, Vertonghen 4, Rose 5, Bentaleb 6, Capoue 5, Paulinho 6, Chadli 6, Soldado 4, Townsend 6. SUBS: Eriksen 6, Kane 5.

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