ENSCHEDE - Tottenham Hotspur
completed their memorable first Champions League group-stage
campaign by topping the standings ahead of holders Inter Milan
after an exhilarating 3-3 draw at Twente Enschede on Tuesday.
Back in August when Spurs were 3-0 down early in the first
leg of their play-off at Young Boys you could have named your
odds on them marching into the last 16 as a group winner.
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The entertaining North London side fought back in that
qualifying match in Switzerland to lose 3-2 and then set the
tone for their new adventure by winning the return 4-0.
Three wins, two draws and a remarkable 18 goals scored sent
them through to the knockout stage one point ahead of Inter,
whose under-strength side lost 3-0 at Werder Bremen.
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Tuesday's game summed up Tottenham's appeal to the neutrals
as they looked to attack at every opportunity while at the same
time leaving themselves vulnerable at the other end.
"We score plenty of goals but we give them away as well. You
want to win but it was important we finished top of the group,"
manager Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports after his side's goals
against tally reached 11.
"I thought it was the toughest group and to top it was a
Already qualified and with a superior head-to-head record
against Inter thanks to their extraordinary 3-1 demolition of
the champions at White Hart Lane, Spurs had only to match the
Italian side's result to win the group.
They were gifted an early lead when Twente keeper Sander
Boschker swung at and missed a back-pass by Peter Wisgerhof, with
Danny Landzaat levelling from the spot after 22 minutes.
Jermain Defoe, with only one previous club goal to his name
in an injury-hit season, struck twice after the break but each
time Spurs were pegged back, first with a header by Roberto
Rosales and then a 56th-minute free-kick by Nacer Chadli.
Both sides continued to go forward in search of a winner but
eventually had to settle for a draw that did no damage to either - with Twente already guaranteed third place and a spot in the
Europa League - and ensured the honours were shared.
"We've gone for it every game and we came here thinking we
could win it," said Redknapp.
"We had two wide men, two up front, we went for it. We got
goals but conceded three as well. Overall, I'm delighted with
the effort of the players."
Defoe, on target with two sharp reaction finishes, added:
"We worked so hard last season to come here so when you are here
you want to make the most of it."
Asked how far the team could go in their first crack at the
Champions League, having last mixed with the continent's elite
in the European Cup back in 1962, the England striker added:
"The way we are playing and the goals we are scoring, you
Twente, taking a similarly positive approach, played their
part in a richly entertaining game and will be a team many will
want to avoid in the Europa League.
"Harry Redknapp complimented me by saying we played
fantastic football but sometimes too much football, coach Michel
Preud'homme told NOS-TV.
"Therefore we conceded goals today and we should find more
balance in our game.
"The first goal had to do with the condition of the pitch
but before that back-pass we could have handled it differently
and that is exactly what I mean."
"But I complimented my team because coming from behind
against such a good opponent is quite an achievement - though
we still have to learn our lesson from this."
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