Roman Pavlyuchenko

An evening of drama, mayhem and controversy at White Hart Lane. The evening had it all: fire alarms, ticket and turnstile chaos, one penalty saved and two converted, a sending off, five goals and best of all, four of those were in our favour.

And it chucked it down from start to finish, as those thousands who were still outside the ground at quarter to eight will testify. The explanation on the official website is that the turnstiles automatically locked due to a fire alert which is fine obviously, you don’t want to pay forty nine quid for the privilege or entering a burning building. For that price though you do want to see the whole game and you’d also like an apology for the delayed entry that wasn’t your fault, an apology that is missing from the patronising ‘thank you for your patience’ paragraphs published online by Spurs. Fire engines were outside the ground at 7:25 meaning that there was plenty of time to put the kick off back by 15 minutes too; no doubt angering the Gods of UEFA just to ensure your own fans get to see the game is out of the question.

Anyway…As I walked away from the ground I heard someone say “We got out of jail there” which is a bit of a strange comment after a 4-1 win but it’s hard to disagree with him. After 61 minutes the Norwegian ref decided that Van der Vaart’s barrel chested commitment was too much for him and off he went. At this point we were 2-1 up but with our backs to the wall. The Tukkers had taken going two goals down personally and had upped their game to a degree we were struggling to cope with. They were quick and skilful and we were hoofing and chasing (which was what led to VdV’s expulsion). We looked naïve and leaderless. Ignoring his first half spot kick miss our new number eleven had been our inspiration and given the pressure we were under, most would’ve thought that our hopes of getting anything from the game disappeared with him down the tunnel.

But no. Having already pointed to the spot twice Terje Hauge decided to go for his own personal hat-trick and Super Pav cheekily chipped down the centre of the goal to make it 3-1. From then on we regrouped. Huddlestone, King and Bale in particular played like heroes for the last half hour and we deservedly held on for the win. In fact we did more than hold on, we played with enterprise and poise and were probably most impressive when we slowed the game down and kept possession during this period.

On the penalties, from up in the stands at the Paxton End you could see why all three were given. I know I’m biased but even the third one looked obvious to me. Why did he have his arm up if not to block the shot?

The Dutch will feel a tad aggrieved about the result but they were physical all night and the goalie’s antics before the first penalty make it hard to engender much sympathy. We head to the San Siro in good shape in the group but without the influential Van der Vaart. Hopefully he’ll spend the spare week in the company of our tackling coach (if we’ve got one).


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