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Spurs stutter in Champions League opener

Spurs stutter in Champions League opener

18/09/2019 at 18:55Updated 18/09/2019 at 23:05

Champions League Group C, Karaiskakis Stadium - Olympiacos 2 (Podence 44', Valbuena 54') Tottenham 2 (Kane 26', Moura 30')

Tottenham made a stuttering start to their Champions League campaign as Olympiacos completed a dramatic two-goal comeback to claim a 2-2 draw in Athens.

Spurs, who made five changes from the side that thrashed Crystal Palace with Dele Alli and Ben Davies both handed their first start of the season, were disjointed and below-par for most of the first half and were fortunate not to fall behind early on.

But the hosts were punished for not converting their opportunities as Harry Kane was awarded a penalty, after a challenge from Yassine Meriah, which he scored emphatically.

Mauricio Pochettino's side continued to be under the cosh but doubled their lead somehow through a stunning strike from the edge of the box from last season's hero Lucas Moura.

The veteran Mathieu Valbuena and Daniel Podence continued to pull the strings for the home side and traded passes on the stroke of half-time with the latter smashing home a shot to reduce the deficit.

Last season's Champions League runners-up improved in the second half with Dele Alli having a goal correctly ruled out for off-side.

But the Greek side levelled when Valbuena was awarded a controversial penalty, after Jan Vertonghen's challenge, which he converted to make it 2-2.

Despite bringing on Son Heung-min and Erik Lamela the visitors were unable to grab the winner and were forced to settle for a point and must now switch their attentions to the Saturday lunch-time game against Leicester.

TALKING POINT

Did Pochettino make too many changes? Spurs missed the forward runs of Danny Rose and Serge Aurier although the latter's defensive prowess has been questioned in the past. But the changes led to Davinson Sanchez at right-back where he looked uncomfortable and his distribution was poor while Ben Davies had a torrid time up against the space of Podence. And Son may have been feeling hard done by starting on the bench after his brace against Palace.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Daniel Podence (Olympiacos): The Portuguese midfielder was the star of the show with his pace down the right and link-up play with Valbuena. He scored an impressive strike at a crucial time and was a contact threat.

PLAYER RATINGS

OLYMPIACOS: Sa 7, Meriah 6, Semedo 6, Elabdellaoui 5, Tsimikas 7, Bouchalakis 5, Guilherme 5, Valbuena 8, Podence 8, Masouras 6, Guerrero 6. Subs: Benzia 5, Randelovic n/a, El-Arabi n/a.

SPURS: Lloris 5, Alderweireld 5, Sanchez 3, Vertonghen 6, Davies 6, Winks 5, Ndombele 5, Eriksen 2, Dele 5, Lucas 7, Kane 7. Subs: Sissoko 5, Son 5, Lamela n/a.

KEY MOMENTS

18' - WOODWORK! Podence's volley from a cross from the left hits the post with Lloris beaten and Guilherme's effort on the rebound is blazed over.

25' - PENALTY TO SPURS! Kane knocks the ball past the defender and is clipped by Meriah's leg.Kane steps up and fires it down the middle.

31' - GOAL FOR SPURS! Davies wins the ball inside the host's half and picks out Moura who thunders it into the net from the edge of the box.

34' - CHANCE! Lazy defending from Eriksen allowing a cross to come in from the left flank, it finds an unmarked Meriah who snatches at his volley and it goes over.

44' - GOAL FOR OLYMPIACOS! Podence trades passes with Valbuena before drilling the ball into the bottom corner from inside the box. Nice goal.

49' - DISALLOWED GOAL! Eriksen crosses the ball into an unmarked Alli who turns it into the net but its ruled out for off-side.

52' - PENALTY TO OLYMPIACOS! Eriksen gives the ball away, Valbuena has it and goes down under a soft challenge from Vertonghen. Valbuena makes it 2-2 coolly to level things up.

64' - GOOD SAVE: Alli muscles his way through on goal, he opts to shoot instead of squaring it to Kane and Sa makes a good save.

Olympiacos' Mathieu Valbuena celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates

Olympiacos' Mathieu Valbuena celebrates scoring their second goal with teammatesReuters

KEY STATS

  • Only Ruud van Nistelrooy (19) and Roberto Soldado (19) scored their first 15 Champions League goals in fewer games than Harry Kane (20).
  • Spurs have not won on the road since March, when they beat Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion.
  • Since the start of last season, Spurs have conceded more goals than any other side in the Champions League (21).
  • Olympiacos are winless in nine Champions League matches (D2 L7), their longest winless run in the competition.
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