Pitch invaders mar Spurs’ victory


Tottenham face UEFA sanctions after their Europa League tie with Partizan Belgrade was suspended, overshadowing their progress to the knockout stages.

Play was halted 41 minutes into this Group C clash after individuals encroached onto the pitch on three separate occasions in what appeared to be an orchestrated PR stunt.

The incident led to a temporary suspension of play at White Hart Lane, where Mauricio Pochettino’s men would eventually triumph 1-0 thanks to Benjamin Stambouli’s first goal for the club.

The win against already eliminated Partizan means Spurs progress to the round of 32 with a game to spare, although it is the unsavoury incidents which will be making the headlines – just like in the sides’ previous meeting.

September’s 0-0 draw in Belgrade was shrouded in controversy after home fans displayed an anti-Semitic banner inspired by the Only Fools and Horses logo, with the name changed to ‘Only Jews and Pussies’.

It led to UEFA fining Partizan and handing down a partial stadium closure for their next home match, although this time it is Tottenham facing the wrath of European football’s governing body.

On three different occasions members of the public snuck onto the field, leading referee Yevhen Aranovskiy to temporarily suspend a match in which an Albanian flag was seen in the home end – an apparent bid to rile visiting fans after last month’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Serbia was abandoned.

With so much happening around the ground, it was easy at times to forget this was an important game for Tottenham – one which saw them qualify from Group C with a match to spare.

It was far from a straightforward win as Partizan produced a spirited performance, although Spurs eventually won through thanks to Stambouli’s strike shortly after half-time.

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