Udinese 2 Tottenham 0
Heurelho Gomes’ blunder helped hand Udinese victory in their UEFA Cup clash at Stadio Friuli as Tottenham’s miserable start to the season continued.
Spurs head coach Juande Ramos had left David Bentley out of his squad and watched as Jamie O’Hara was dismissed for two bookings in a minute, ending any hopes of a fightback against the Italians.
The White Hart Lane side are bottom of the Premier League and not faring any better in Europe after Gomes’ mistake was punished by Antonio Di Natale and Simone Pepe added a late second.
It was harsh on goalkeeper Gomes, who produced save after save against Wisla Krakow to get Spurs into Group D of a competition that had provided a distraction from the worst league start in their history.
With Udinese stroking the ball around, Gomes made a total mess of a backpass and ended up bringing down Fabio Quagliarella in the 24th minute.
Antonio Di Natale, who suggested before the clash that no Spurs player would get in the Udinese team, then scored the penalty – and the hosts should have added to their lead before Pepe sealed the points.
Bentley was omitted less than 24 hours after his outspoken assessment of Spurs’ start to the season emerged – he said his team-mates had no idea what they were doing and there was little evidence to suggest an improvement is around the corner.
Ramos can at least be thankful that Bolton – Spurs’ next opponents – should not have the same quality that Udinese had.
It was clear to see why midfielder Gokhan Inler has interested Arsenal, while Di Natale provided a creative spark as a left forward.
Predictably for a team second in Serie A, the Italian started with plenty of confidence. They were also helped by Benoit Assou-Ekotto enduring a woeful return to the starting XI before he was taken off at half-time.
The only player who looked assured on the ball was Ledley King – but his knee injury means he is likely to miss the Bolton clash, adding to Ramos’ selection dilemmas.
King had to hold the defence together as Udinese piled on early pressure.
Gomes would have had no chance if Andrea Coda’s header had not gone just the other side of the post after he met Gaetano D’Agostino’s free-kick with his head.
Then King had to head clear after Assou-Ekotto gave the ball away and Inler whipped over a cross.
Spurs’ first chance came after Jermaine Jenas wriggled to the byline then chipped his cross to the back post – but Darren Bent’s header went straight at Samir Handanovic.
Aaron Lennon stung the palms of Handanovic with a drive – then Spurs’ confidence was drained when Gomes made his blunder.
He had plenty of time to clear Assou-Ekotto’s backpass but hesitated and tried to take the ball around Quagliarella.
The striker got between Gomes and the ball and the goalkeeper then hauled him down, with referee Felix Brych pointing to the spot.
Brych booked Gomes, and Aleksandar Lukovic for demanding a red. None of that put off Di Natale, who lashed the ball into the bottom corner.
The error appeared to affect Gomes, who looked jittery when he claimed his next corner.
He had to be down sharply to parry Marco Motta’s long-range drive as another corner caused panic and the ball broke out to the defender.
Ramos made his move at half-time, taking off Assou-Ekotto and bringing on Luka Modric.
It meant Spurs had a more attacking intent in their formation, and their first effort after the interval was Gareth Bale sending a free-kick over the crossbar.
But Udinese almost grabbed a second when O’Hara dwelt on the ball and Quagliarella fizzed a drive towards the bottom corner that had to be saved.
D’Agostino also went wide after Modric and Didier Zokora were left on the floor in midfielder as Udinese broke.
It got worse for Spurs when O’Hara received two bookings in a minute, both on Alexis Sanchez, and received his marching orders.
Di Natale almost added a delightful second, latching on to Motta’s long pass and lobbing Gomes – but the goalkeeper made it back to claw the ball away.
Bent had a header tipped over the bar after Giovani dos Santos, on as a substitute, crossed from the right.
But Pepe, another substitute, wrapped up the points, finishing off the post after Di Natale cut in from the left and Quagliarella helped the ball on.