Wherever Harry Houdini is, he must be grinning from ear-to-ear and clutching a cockerel close to his chest because Tottenham Hotspur have just joined him in the pantheon of great magicians.
Arriving in Inter Milan’s San Siro stadium with a 3-0 first leg advantage Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas seemed supremely relaxed and perhaps, dare we say, overconfident. Ninety minutes later that aura had surely disappeared as his side had bungled away the three goals and should’ve lost in the final minute after Estaban Cambiasso found himself in ten yards of space after another William Gallas gaff.
Even after that let off, Spurs still did their best to ensure that the paltry but rowdy crowd remained glued to their seats.
What AVB said to his shattered troops during the full-time break must’ve had some potent power as his team and Emmanuel Adebayor in particular somehow found the strength to score when all looked lost.
To give credit to Inter though, they didn’t roll over. In fact they took the game to the visitors, equalized on aggregate and then with the last kick of the game should’ve won it again when Ranochia headed wide.
Poor Brad Friedel must be wondering when it’s Hugo Lloris’ turn to stand behind a back line that has conceded seven in the last two matches.
What the 120 minutes of nerve shredding entertainment did show is that Spurs without Gareth Bale are a team that are there for the taking because as much as Inter showed character, they’re not the greatest team in the world.
With a raucous Anfield behind them for the second leg, Liverpool shouldn’t be too frustrated despite the dramatics of its stoppage time loss at Villarreal.
That’s a big part of Jurgen Klopp‘s logic following the 1-0 first leg loss in the UEFA Europa League semifinal, one that came when Adrian scored in the final minute of stoppage time.
[ MORE: Match recap | Why Klopp kept Sturridge on bench ]
Klopp seemed, rightly, more concerned with where Alberto Moreno was on the goal.
From the BBC:
“Of course I’m not too happy with the goal we conceded in the last second. Counter-attacking in the 92nd minute makes not much sense – but it is only the first leg.
“It is 1-0 and they have to come to Anfield where we know how strong we are. We had our moments, we defended really good. This race is not over.
“If we had enough players around the box it was no problem but they played this one chip ball over Kolo [Toure], I don’t know where Alberto [Moreno] was in this moment but that was the only big mistake we made in this game and they scored with it.”
Liverpool had the best odds to win the tournament heading into the first leg, but now needs a multi-goal or shutout win to beat a tricky Villarreal, which enjoys a nice counter attack (They could, of course, also win with a 1-0 win and penalty kicks, but you know what we mean here).
Many were wondering why Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp decided not to use striker Daniel Sturridge in Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Villarreal in the first leg of the two sides’ UEFA Europa League semifinal.
Klopp says the decision was completely tactical, and laid it at the feet of Sturridge not having experience in Thursday’s desired formation.
[ MORE: Watch full Premier League match replays ]
These comments were from before the match. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts after the loss.
“It was a very difficult decision to be honest. I thought about a lot of things and at the end I decided for a little more stability.
In a 4-3-3 we didn’t play with Daniel until now. For today, this 4-3-3, 4-5-1, this very flexible style it makes sense that the player played together before.”
Even well-regarded managers make mistakes, and Liverpool was very much missing a striker’s touch on Thursday (Roberto Firmino did hit the post, and looked somewhat dangerous).
The “FIFA Slayer” is in the building. Rog sits down with Loretta Lynch, the 83rd attorney general of the United States, for an interesting conversation in the latest MiB pod.
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Vitolo scored a goal then drew a penalty, and Kevin Gameiro converted the chance as Sevilla picked up a pair of road goals in a 2-2 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday in the first leg of the clubs’ UEFA Europa League semifinal.
Marlos had a goal and an assist for Shakhtar Donetsk, with Taras Stepanenko scoring Shakhtar’s other goal.
Sevilla has won the last two tournaments, and hosts Thursday’s second leg with an advantage toward reaching a third.
[ MORE: Watch full Premier League match replays ]
Gameiro set up that oh-so-pivotal road goal in the first 6 minutes, sliding the ball to Vitolo for his left-footed finish between the legs of Andriy Pyatov.
But the Ukranians weren’t slow to respond, and Shakhtar netted twice before halftime. First Marlos scored a left-footed of his own from Yaroslav Rakitskiy in the 21st minute, and then Marlos turned provider for Stepanenko’s headed finish in the 35th.
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]