Lazio hold Spurs
Italians claim goalless draw at White Hart Lane
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey. Last Updated: 20/09/12 10:22pm
A very strong Tottenham Hotspur side could not find a way past Lazio at White Hart Lane as Andre Villas-Boas's men had to settle for a goalless draw in the Europa League opener.
Spurs began brightly, but failed to really test Federico Marchetti in the visitors' goal, although Tottenham did have the ball in the net three times, only for all to be disallowed.
Clint Dempsey and Jermain Defoe saw efforts chalked off for offside, whilst Steven Caulker can count himself hugely unfortunate after his header was ruled out for a foul on Stefano Mauri.
Lazio had some good chances too, if fewer, with Alvaro Gonzalez very unlucky to see his first-half effort slam against the bar and go wide.
The talking point at the start of the match was Villas-Boas's decision to hand a debut to French captain Hugo Lloris in goal.
All eyes were on the Frenchman early on as he was chosen ahead of Brad Friedel for the encounter. The £8million signing seemed nervous when he bowled the ball out to a shocked Kyle Naughton, but the full-back was fouled by an over-exuberant Ogenyi Onazi.
Aaron Lennon latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Kyle Walker in the first chance of the match, but his cross was cut out by Luis Cavanda as Gareth Bale lurked at the back post.
Dempsey claimed handball when his shot was blocked by Giuseppe Biava on the edge of the box but Hategan waved play on.
A Walker mistake allowed Gonzalez to break free down the left but his cross evaded the advancing Miroslav Klose.
Tottenham's best chance of the first half came after 18 minutes when Defoe clipped a lofted ball to the back post where Bale was waiting - but the Welshman headed straight at Marchetti.
Bale thought he had made amends for his miss moments later when he delivered a pinpoint cross which Dempsey converted with a diving header, but the linesman flagged for a very tight offside call.
Lazio started to come back in to the game however. Mauri knocked Cristian Ledesma's pass in to the path of Klose, but the German completely missed the ball, then four minutes before the break Gonzalez volleyed Jan Vertonghen's clearance against the bar with Lloris beaten.
Tottenham came out much more confidently after the break and they nearly took the lead seven minutes in when Defoe played in Lennon. Marchetti parried the winger's shot into Dempsey's path but he made a hash of the follow-up.
Spurs had the ball in the net for a second time just before the hour but again the goal was ruled out after the linesman ruled Bale had drifted offside when he latched on to Dempsey's through-ball.
Lazio had no answer to the pace of Bale and Lennon, who were dominating the flanks.
Andre Dias was booked for hacking down Bale after 61 minutes and Gonzalez saw yellow a few minutes later when he took Lennon out after the winger had given him the slip.
Sandro should have put Spurs in front after 64 minutes when he was picked out by Bale but the unmarked Brazilian headed wide from six yards.
Dempsey thought he should have had a penalty soon after when he appeared to be pushed in the box but again referee Hategan ruled against the hosts.
The official was in the spotlight again moments later when Caulker bundled in Bale's corner but he decided the defender had climbed on the back of his marker - prompting Villas-Boas' outburst.
Mauri beat the offside trap to slip into the Tottenham box in a rare Lazio attack but Caulker scampered back and denied the midfielder.Mauri almost won it for Lazio five minutes from time when he sneaked through the Spurs defence but he could not finish.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Lazio|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||0|
|2||Shots off Target||3|
|65.8||1st Half Poss.||34.2|
|46.3||2nd Half Poss.||53.7|