For nearly 150 minutes in this tie, Tottenham were second best. On Thursday night, they looked devoid of ideas going forward and clueless on how to cancel out Dnipro’s slender advantage from the first leg. It simply wasn’t coming. The groans from the White Hart Lane faithful grew louder with every passing minute. That was until one decision turned the whole the tie. It so often happens; think back to Old Trafford 12 months ago when Nani was dismissed against Real Madrid. Roman Zozulya’s controversial dismissal unequivocally lifted the crowd, the players and ultimately gave Spurs the kick up the backside they needed. All of a sudden, they were a different side, Emmanuel Adebayor a different player and White Hart Lane the hostile arena we’ve all become accustomed to. But, it all hinged on the official’s decision to show the Dnipro striker his marching orders.
There is the distinct possibility that Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham Hotspur will be the only remaining Premier League representative in Europe come the second-leg of the Champions League. With Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United all facing uphill tasks and Chelsea level pegging with Galatasaray, Spurs’s presence in the next round of the Europa League is a welcome one given the struggles of their Premier League adversaries. Swansea were unlucky to crash out in Naples early but the performances over the past fortnight has raised plenty of questions about the British clubs and where they stand compared to five/six years ago. On the other hand, Spurs can be considered as genuine contenders for the Europa League having progressed to the last 16 and Sherwood’s intentions have been made perfectly clear; he’s in it to win it and wants to bring silverware to north London. However, this tie has raised more questions than answers and has done little to inspire Spurs fans that they can go all the way. But, it is their only chance of silverware this season and whoever they get in Friday’s draw, they’ll fancy.
For many, Yevhen Konoplyanka was an unknown quantity when Liverpool tried, in vain, to secure his services in January but after this showing and last week’s performance, there is little surprise that Ian Ayre and Brendan Rodgers went to such lengths to try and secure his signature. The 24-year-old oozed class every time he got his foot on the ball and his presence alone drew two white shirts to him on every occasion. Konoplyanka was outstanding from the outset and he was the standout player on the pitch over the two legs, as he gracefully glided over the turf with pace, skill and flair. His wicked shot caused problems throughout and gave Spurs fans a scare with two late efforts that went close. His price tag may have just risen since January but he may be just worth every penny should Liverpool come calling again. One would suspect, however, they’ll have competition this time around.
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