Understrength Tottenham scrap hard for point in Greece

AN inexperienced Tottenham side came through a nail-biting finish to leave the cauldron of the Toumba Stadium with a hard-fought point in last night’s Europa League Group A clash against PAOK Salonika.

Carlo Cudicini was called upon to make three fine saves at the death and Vladimir Ivic rattled the Italian’s bar in stoppage time amid a white-hot atmosphere in Greece that Shamrock Rovers will face on October 20.

Lino missed a re-taken first-half penalty for the hosts while debutant Yago Falque twice went close for Tottenham and Harry Kane might have been awarded an earlier spot-kick after being brought down in the box.

Stoke were denied a winning start to their Group E campaign by Dynamo Kiev’s late equaliser at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Stadium.

The Ukrainian hosts dominated the first 45 minutes and should have gone ahead midway through when Andriy Yarmolenko blazed wide with the goal at his mercy.

Having weathered the storm, the Potters took the lead 10 minutes into the second half when Cameron Jerome finished from Ryan Shotton’s cross, but after Oleksandr Aliev had hit the bar for Dynamo, Ognjen Vukojevic levelled in stoppage time.

Celtic’s dismal European away record continued with an expected defeat to Atletico Madrid in their Group I opener in the Vicente Calderon stadium. The Hoops were still warming to their task when Colombian striker Radamel Falcao met a Diego corner in the third minute to head past Fraser Forster.

Diego added the second in the 67th minute to leave the Parkhead men with one away win in Europe in 31 games ahead of Sunday’s Old Firm clash at Ibrox.

Birmingham’s dream of making a flying start to their Group H campaign was rudely ended as Braga won 3-1 at St Andrew’s.

Last season’s beaten finalists had too much class in front of goal to leave Chris Hughton’s side with an uphill task already if they are to qualify for the knockout phase.

Two goals from Helder Barbosa, early in the game and again late on, sunk the Blues after Marlon King had offered the hosts a glimmer of hope following a controversial effort from Lima that had given the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Mark Schwarzer’s own goal on 41 minutes condemned Fulham to a frustrating 1-1 draw with FC Twente in Group K.

The Australia international was unfortunate to deflect home a Luuk de Jong header that rebounded off the post, against the goalkeeper, and in.

The west Londoners impressed throughout and took the lead on 19 minutes courtesy of Andrew Johnson, who finished with aplomb after latching onto Dwight Tiendalli’s square ball.

Besiktas strolled to a 5-1 Group E victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv in a highly-charged atmosphere in Istanbul.

Two first-half goals from Hugo Almeida put the hosts on the front foot and, though Roei Kahat pulled one back four minutes after the break for the Israelis, Mehmet Aurelio replied two minutes later and further strikes from Egeman Korkmaz and Edu killed the game off.

In Group D, unfancied Romanian outfit Vaslui were good value for their 2-2 draw against 10-man Lazio in Rome.

Two Lopes Wesley strikes had cancelled out Djibril Cisse’s opener for Lazio, who were grateful for Giuseppe Sculli’s equaliser 19 minutes from the end.

Picture: Andrew Johnson celebrates scoring for Fulham

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