Shamrock Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur – as it happened

Tottenham scored three first-half goals to keep their European hopes alive but events in Salonika meant it could not be enough

Evening all: Thursday night, ITV4, one more time for Tottenham unless they can best Rubin Kazan who need to lose to PAOK Salonika to give Spurs a chance to continue their European odyssey. If Kazan are defeated Tottenham then have to overturn the five-goal deficit in goal difference between them. In the 1983-84 season Spurs did thrash Drogheda United 14-0 on aggregate but the way Rovers played at White Hart Lane, ththose sort of scorelines (6-0 and 8-0) don't look on tonight.

Here are your teams for tonight:

Shamrock Rovers: Brush, Sullivan, Oman, Murray, Stevens, Rice, Turner, Dennehy, Finn, Paterson, Sheppard.
Subs: Thompson, O'Donnell, McCabe, Twigg, Kilduff, O'Neill, Ricketts.
Tottenham: Cudicini, Assou-Ekotto, Kaboul, Livermore, Rose, Townsend, Kranjcar, Sandro, Pienaar, Giovani, Defoe.
Subs: Gomes, Falque, Kane, Carroll.
Referee: Stephan Studer (Switzerland)
Aitch has made nine changes to his starting line-up since the Stoke defeat, Benoît Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul are the only two players who were retained. He's also named only four substitutes while tweeter and blogger Rohan Ricketts is on the Rovers bench.

1 min: Pat Jennings is in the crowd, the hairstyle unaltered for the past 40 years. And we're off, Spurs in purple, Rovers in the famous hoops. Kaboul captains Tottenham, Assou-Ekotto plays right-back. Sandro tries to play in Pienaar on the edge of the box but Murray gets his foot in and Rovers break and Paterson curls the ball into the net but is ajudged offside, when he wasn't. Drama here.

3 min: Nice threaded pass through to paterson, too. Now Townsend is robbed of the ball and Rovers push forward again with Sullivan linking up well with Dennehy up the right, playing patient possession football until Rose makes an intervention and Spurs stop Rovers' progress.

5 min: Sheppard turns and runs at Livermore who gets his foot in and pings it to Finn who has an ambitious shot from 20 yards that is blocked.

7 min: Lovely run from Giovani up the right – he and Townsend make the yards from the Spurs penalty area all inside-out and dribbling with their left feet. Dos Santos goes beyond Stevens then cuts the ball back with his right foot to Defoe eight yards out and his stabbed shot is closed down.

9 min: Sullivan's whacked cross catches Pienaar amidships as Brian Johnston used to call it, the right-back picks up the rebound and tries another deep cross into the box that Livermore nods behind but Rovers are offside so Spurs get a free-kick.

11 min: Spurs have made a somewhat bitty start, unsurprisingly given so few of them play regularly, but Townsend is starting to fancy his chances against Stevens. So far the full-back has dealt with him soundly.

13 min: Rovers free-kick wide on the right about 18 yards out, taken by Dennehy. Sheppard leaps to meet the left-foot curling cross, and the ball ricochets out to Oman. Assou-Ekotto is caught on his heels, doesn't close down quick enough and Oman gets his shot off, powerful enough but a few feet wide of Cudicini's right post.

15 min: The ball goes from goalkeeper to goalkeeper after a couple of overhit long passes. Spurs look fairly tight across midfield but all their thrusts are coming up the right from left-footed players cutting in.

17 min: Brush belts a goalkick long and it bounces for the second time, having caught the wind, just in front of the Spurs area where Cudicini comes out to meet him but Kaboul isn't taking any chances and stoops to head it out for a corner but Rovers can't make productive use of it.

19 min: Sandro chops down Sheppard who had controlled a firm pass well on his head then chest to skip away from the Brazilian. Rovers take the free-kick just inside the Totetnham half but they're closed down so they send the ball back to Brush.

21 min: Giovani does look elegant when he's dribbling, taking the ball up the right wing, dinking it forward with the outside of his left foot. He finishes his run by trying to screw a pass in to Defoe which is cut out. The ball goes over to the other wing where Pienaar plays in Defoe 25 yards out but the ball is slightly ahead of him as he tries to control it then shoot.

23 min: "Man alive, what sort of horse's arse time is this for an MBM?!" asks Ryan Dunne, pertinently. "Fitba's still fitba though, so shall follow it till the finish (although also watching Scrubs at the same time; don't know if that constitutes cheating)." I'm waiting for Emmerdale Farm, Ryan. Finn wins a corner after some good work up the right cut out by Rose's good positioning and tenacity. The corner sails into Cudicini's arms. It's windy. Oooh. PAOK are 1-0 up against Rubin Kazan.

25 min: Spurs take a free-kick 30 yards out, rolled forward to Sandro who's stationed in front of the wall. He lays it back to Defoe who smacks his shot at least 10 yards over the bar. Rubin's keeper has been sent off, too. How much do you want the Europa League in February, then 'Arry?

27 min: Krajcar is booked for tugging a shirt in the centre-circle. He looks pretty bemused by the decision. The free-kick is won back by Spurs and Rose goes up the left, hits a cross tight to the goalline, it catches the wind and Brush misjudges the flight and has to scramble to recover.

GOAL!! Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Tottenham (Pienaar) Shot from the right side of the box, deflected past Brush as it clips the defender's ankles.

30 min: So Spurs need a further three-goal swing in their favour and nearly made further inroads when Giovani cuts in from the right on his left on a 20-yard burst and tries to curl a right-footed pass around the last defender to the onrushing Defoe but gets his angles slightly wrong and puts it too far ahead of Defoe's lunge.

33 min: Giovani's playing well, and has just hit a cross-cum-shot from wide on the right, curling it in with his left foot and Brush has to tip it around the far post. Here's Martin Harrison: "Ah, the glamour of watching Europa League football at 6.33pm on a Thursday. The Manchesters have got it all to come. I enjoyed Wayne Rooney's comment earlier - 'I don't think the manager's won the Europa League' - as if there was any doubt over whether there's a Europa League triumph on Sir Alex's CV. As an MBM-er doing an MBM at 6.33pm on a Thursday, do you look with envy at your colleagues who get the big Tuesday and Wednesday night Champions League games or do you enjoy the ITV4/Channel 5 experience?" Variety is the spice of life, Martin. And yes, I do know my place.

35 min: Townsend's now moved on to the left wing where he looks more threatening.

37 min: Paterson comes in off the left, thinks about his options, then decides to have a go, swinging his right foot to shoot from 25 yards when no one closes him down. The shot goes a couple of feet over the bar.

GOAL!! Shamrock Rovers 0-2 Tottenham (Townsend) Wonderful goal. Townsend plays a one-two with Defoe on the left-side of the box where the lines meet, gets the ball back then curls it into the far corner with his right foot.

39 min: If the goal descriptions aren't appearing, please hit F5 and they should pop up. Townsend tries an exact replica of his goal but this time it doesn't dip quickly enough and goes inches over the bar.

42 min: "Love your run-on-sentence writing style ('Sullivan's whacked cross catches Pienaar amidships as Brian Johnston used to call it, the right-back picks up the rebound and tries another deep cross into the box that Livermore nods behind but Rovers are offside so Spurs get a free-kick.') Writes Paul Taylor. I'm blushing, Paul. "Reminds me of the hard-boiled cop mystery novels – Lee Child (the 'Jack Reacher' series) is a good current American example (but drop the commas). Do you read such?" I haven't Paul, but I'll hit Amazon at 8 o'clock.

44 min: And the comma thief on the sub-editor's bench would agree with you, Paul. Townsend is really flourishing on the left. Good tactical switch by Redknapp.

GOAL!! Shamrock Rovers 0-3 Tottenham (Defoe) Wow! Townsend again does brilliantly up the left, skinning Sullivan, then tapping a precise pass to Defoe who hist it on the half-turn inside the box past the diving Brush's left hand. One more goal to make up as it stands in Salonika now.

Half time: Off to get some scran. I'll be back in 10 minutes. "Interesting points by Martin Harrison. Although, surely it's worth noting that the MBM-Officiator Glamour Gigs (Sky Super Sunday clashes etc) invariably kick-off at the weekend? In contrast, one imagines that Europa League MBMers get to clock off Thursday at 8pm, and drink till Monday, student-style!" Yep, that's the deal, Ryan. Here's Ben Hanwell: "We had our office Christmas drinks last night and I came within a whisker of tripping over a low table in the pub, falling over in front of all my colleagues, and seeing a reputation built up over 11 years' hard work boil down to 'the one who fell over at the Christmas party'. Thankfully for me I didn't topple and my career remains intact. Any readers been not so lucky this week?" Anyone? "You say in your coverage of today's game that the Spurs only have 'one more goal to make up as it stands', but will one goal be enough? asks Kevin Costello. "Seems like one more goal would put them level on goal difference, but still behind on goals scored." I think you're right, Kevin. I'll check

46 min: O'Donnell on for Rovers, replacing Rice. And Spurs do need two more goals as it stands. Emil Fortune writes: "Lee Child is a cut above the usual thriller fare, in my humble opinion, but he's actually British. He does write like an American though." Ta for the correction and clarification.

47 min: Rose rolls the ball down the wing to Townsend who hits a first-time pass to Defoe on the edge of the box where Murray closes him down. Townsend must be a strong candidate for a loan signing in January on this performance.

48 min: Corner for Spurs after Rose's cross is blocked by Turner. They take it and pass to the edge of the area, Pienaar dinks it in to Townsend who tries to juggle a tricky pass but he's smothered by Rovers' defenders.

50 min: Bad news from Salonika where Rubin have equalised.

51 min: Kranjcar shoots from a free-kick wide on the left and curls his shot over the angle of bar and the far post.

52 min: Rubin's goal, from Valdez, was, according to the Uefa feed, a wonderful left-foot volley.

54 min: Dennehy has a shot from 20 yards, cutting in from the right touchline and belting a dipping strike which Cudicini drops then dives forward to catch the rebound.

56 min: Sheppard beats Livermore for pace in the chase for a hopeful pass and Livermore seems to flatten him by leaning into him as he ran. The referee judges that it was a dive and tells Sheppard to get up. The crowd boos. Twenty seconds later Pienaar goes over and the referee tells him to get up, too.

58 min: The pea in the ref's whistle is working after all as he gives Spurs a free kick when Defoe is knocked down. Pienaar curls his free kick from 20 yards out on the left wide. The replays suggest Livermore did foul Sheppard, wrapping his arms around him and forcing him over. Twigg comes on for Rovers.

60 min: Spurs wina corner fortuitously when Pienaar is squeezed out in the box and gets the last touch. A booming corner to the far reaches of the penalty area where Pienaar receives a booking for his attempt to win the ball back.

62 min: O'Donnell's left foot shot on the half volley from the edge of the area flies inches wide of Cudicini's left post. Rovers are still creating opportunities as Spurs push forward.

64 min: Bit of a lull for a couple of minutes as Spurs try to build patiently then a cocked up pass from Sandro on the right meant for Defoe gets Brush scrambling as it slowly arrows towards the far post. The rebound hits the goalkeeper's knee and goes out for a corner, which, as I'm sure I've written a thousand times already this season, comes to nothing. Well, they actually win another corner but that one comes to nothing.

66 min: Kaboul goes on a Beckenbauer foray up front, dribbling the ball towards the penalty area wher he sets up Pienaar whose shot finds Townsend on the left side of the penalty spot. Townsend tries to shift the ball on to his right foot and gives Oman the second he needs to get his block in for the shot.

69 min: Oman clips a 40-yard pass over the top of SPurs' defence, Sheppard runs on to it, rounds Cudicini who brings him down for what would have been a penalty and a red card but for the linesman's late flag signalling offside. Sheppard was offside because Twigg had touched the ball on to him.

72 min: Rovers have another penalty shout when Twigg goes down in the box. More boos but I haven't seen a replay yet.

74 min: Kaboul got the ball when he challenged Twigg and sent him flying in the penalty area but it looks like he hit the man first then the ball. The referee did put the whistle into his mouth and then didn't blow it and ran off upfield.

76 min: Sub for Rovers, Sheppard off for Kilduff. Sub for Spurs, Kane on for Defoe.

78 min: Sandro taps the ballout to the right wing where Assou-Ekotto turns one way and the other to try and get it on to his left foot. When he eventually gets the ball on to his favoured foot, his cross hits the first defender.

80 min: "Office Christmas party last night," writes Bobby Holmes. "Got away with puking a little bit on the floor of the pub because my esteemed colleagues were all too drunk to notice. Thanks be to jaysis it's only once a year we have to do it. To tie in with the game, two of my drinking partners were ex-Rovers players." How very apt, Bobby. I once thought it would be a good ideas, in my cups, to sit underneath a grand piano at a Christmas bash. The Billy Joel-alike on the keys didn't seem to see the funny side. Harry Kane turns and shoots and Brush gathers it at the second attempt.

82 min: Reports from the ground are suggesting that Rovers fans have been giving Harry Redknapp some gyp. And Aitch ain't pleased.

85 min: The Spurs passing has been much less precise this half and their forward thrusts have lacked a little zip. Perhaps they've heard that Rubin had equalised. Kranjcar just took Sullivan on the inside and curled a shot around the right post. Falqué comes on for Assou-Ekotto for Tottenham. Sandro is playing at right-back now.

87 min: Kilduff whacks Livermore across the shins and the centre-half is livid and takes a minute to harangue the substitute. Falqué, another left-footer, cuts in from the right wing and hits a crisp shot that hits the inside of the right post and bounces to safety.

88 min: Sullivan now drifst in off the touchline as the ball flies off Kaboul's chest and hits a dipping, swerving half volley with the outside of his right boot that Cudicini dives to strong-arm away.

89 min: Rovers are having a good late spell, Dennehy this time coming in off the right wing to spank a shot wide.

GOAL!! Shamrock Rovers 0-4 Tottenham (Kane) Danny Rose crosses from the left, a yard from the touchline, to the far post where Townsend nods it down and Kane swivels and hits a smart finish past Brush.

90 min+1: The live attack indicator from PAOK shows it 50-50 so one assumes they're playing out the draw. Spurs have time for one more go.

Full time: … er, no they don't. The referee blows the final whistle and Tottenham are out of Europe for the season and Michael O'Neill has managed Shamrock Rovers for the last time. Rovers had some very good phases of play, attacking with neat moves but Spurs were too good. Townsend, in particular, impressed, Pienaar and Sandro played well and Giovani showed flashes of brilliance. Thanks for your emails and company this evening. Join me in February for your Thursday night dates with the Mancunian duo.

comments powered by Disqus