Spurs boss admits defeat signals end of his side’s run in Europe this season
TOTTENHAM 1 vs PAOK SALONIKA 2
TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp admits he has given up hope of progressing from the Europa League group stage after a shock home defeat to 10-man PAOK that leaves his side’s hopes hanging from the finest of threads.
PAOK stunned Spurs by taking a two-goal lead inside 13 minutes, through Dimitris Salpingidis and Stefanos Athanasiadis, and, after having a man sent off and seeing Luka Modric score from the penalty spot, repelled a second-half bombardment.
It means Tottenham need to win their final group fixture at Shamrock Rovers while hoping for a Rubin Kazan defeat and a six-goal swing in goal difference in order to claim an unlikely place in the last 32.
Redknapp said: “I’m disappointed now because we are not going to be in the last 32.
“I just wanted to win tonight, but we have changed the team around so we can do well in the league.”
Injuries and the need for a win forced Redknapp to include first-teamers Modric, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon but if he expected them to give his side an early edge he could not have been more wrong.
Just six minutes in Salpingidis was allowed space to nod past Heurelho Gomes, and seven minutes later Athanasiadis slid home the second.
Tottenham took time to regroup but sensed hope nine minutes before half time when Kostas Stafylidis handled on the line and was sent off. Modric despatched the penalty and a Spurs comeback looked a certainty.
But PAOK had not read the script. Redknapp’s laid siege to the Greek end but, save for Defoe’s (left) disallowed effort, could not find the goals to give them more than a flicker of hope in Dublin in two weeks’ time.