TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp was full of pride as his makeshift side clung on to claim a point amid the white-hot atmosphere of PAOK Salonika’s notorious Toumba Stadium.
With a view to Sunday’s Premier League showdown against fellow Champions League aspirants Liverpool, Redknapp made 10 changes to his side, giving Yago Falque, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend a chance to impress.
The trio repaid their manager with mature performances, but parity was only maintained thanks to the agility of their 38-year-old goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who made a series of athletic saves late on.
Spurs were also handed a first-half reprieve went PAOK left-back Lino pulled a retaken penalty wide, having comprehensively beaten Cudicini with his first effort, but Redknapp claimed his side, which had an average age of 23, was deserving of significant praise.
“I was pleased with performance, particularly in the first half. We kept the ball well,” Redknapp said. “That was an intimidating atmosphere out there tonight. It was fantastic. You don’t get that in many places in the world.
“The fans were incredible and they get behind their team. The young players have never seen that before and it must have been a difficult experience for them, but I thought they coped very well.”
While the young players like Tom Carroll, Falque and Townsend impressed, the top performer on the night was Cudicini.
He was booked for the foul which presented PAOK with the best chance of the game from the penalty spot, but Redknapp says the former Chelsea stopper thought he was hard done by.
He said: “Did Carlo foul him? He swears he never touched him. Carlo Cudicini says he didn’t touch him.”
Redknapp had intended to start former No1 Heurelho Gomes instead of the Italian but revealed a last-minute change of mind was behind his decision to leave out the wantaway Brazilian.
He said: “I just changed my mind. I thought it would be better for Carlo tonight and Gomes to play at Stoke in the Carling Cup next Tuesday.”