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EUROPA LEAGUE: Cudicini the hero as Tottenham stave off PAOK

A depleted Tottenham outfit tonight managed to grab a point against Greek club PAOK in their opening Europa League Group A fixture.

Harry Redknapp was without the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Brad Friedel, Younes Kaboul, Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Lennon, Scott Parker, Jermain Defoe and Rafael van der Vaart for the trip to Thessaloniki but the young Spurs outfit deployed managed to secure a point away from White Hart Lane.

Goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini did plenty for his own first team chances by coming up with a number of top-class saves late in the game as PAOK peppered the Tottenham goal in the final ten minutes.

Earlier, Spurs had a great chance in the 12th minute when Jake Livermore showed good skill and poise to cut back into the area to tee up Iago Falque but his side-footed shot was cleared off the line by Pablo Contreras who got back to cover for his keeper Dario Kresic.

Spurs should have had a penalty prior to the half-hour mark when Harry Kane was brought down in the area by Contreras but referee Milorad Mazic showed the youngster a yellow card for simulation when the replays indicated there was clear contact.

Three minutes later, PAOK were awarded a penalty when Cudicini pulled down Stefanos Athanasiadis much to the Italian keeper's dismay and Brazilian left-back Lino stepped up to the plate too keep his cool by slotting home as the Thessaloniki crowd went into raptures but the kick had to be re-taken after PAOK players encroached the area.

His second attempt completely missed the target in what was an enormous let-off for the visitors.

Roman Pavlyuchenko thundered his 40th minute free-kick just over the crossbar for Spurs about 15 minutes before Falque almost curled in his left-footed shot from just outside the area after Pavlyuchenko did well to keep possession and then cut back for the Juventus loanee.

Athanasiadis was so close to giving PAOK the lead when Dimitris Salpingidis' cross from the right found the Greek striker but his sliding effort between two Spurs defenders ended up over the bar.

From the 83rd minute it was all Cudicini who came up with two big saves late when he kept out Vladimir Ivic's angled attempt before the Serbian substitute knocked the Spurs clearance back into the area for Athanasiadis whose acrobatic volley was brilliantly parried away by the former Chelsea man.

Vieirinha was then denied in the final minute of regular time when Cudicini again came up with the goods before PAOK were desperately unlucky not to grab a winner in injury time when Vierinha's cross from the left was headed into the crossbar by Ivic as Spurs held on for a vital away point.

PAK (GRE): 0 Tottenham (ENG): 0 Toumbas Stadium, Thessaloniki

Yellow cards:PAOK - Diego Arias 38', Pablo Garcia 45', Georgios Fotakis 53' TOT - Harry Kane 28', Carlo Cudicini 31', Vedran Corluka 75', Giovani dos Santos 90'

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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