Pitch invasions sour Spurs win

A pitch invader is grabbed by Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado. Picture: PA

Tottenham face Uefa sanctions after last night’s Europa League tie with Partizan Belgrade was suspended, overshadowing their progress to the knockout stages.

Play was halted 41 minutes into this Group C clash after individuals encroached onto the pitch on three separate occasions in what appeared to be an orchestrated PR stunt.

The incident led to a temporary suspension of play at White Hart Lane, where Mauricio Pochettino’s men would eventually triumph 1-0 thanks to Benjamin Stambouli’s first goal for the club.

The win against already eliminated Partizan means Spurs progress to the round of 32 with a game to spare, although it is the unsavoury incidents which will be making the headlines.

On three different occasions members of the public snuck onto the field, leading referee Yevhen Aranovskiy to temporarily suspend a match in which an Albanian flag was seen in the home end — an apparent bid to rile visiting fans after last month’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Serbia was abandoned.

With so much happening around the ground, it was easy at times to forget this was an important game for Tottenham — one which saw them qualify from Group C with a match to spare.

It was far from a straightforward win as Partizan produced a spirited performance, although Spurs eventually won through thanks to Stambouli’s strike shortly after half-time.

Meanwhile, Leigh Griffiths and Celtic had mixed feelings after qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages despite a 3-1 defeat at home to Salzburg.

The Bhoys made a dismal start, falling behind to two volleys from Alan inside the first 13 minutes.

Stefan Johansen pulled one back but Griffiths saw his close-range header saved in Celtic’s best opportunity for an equaliser, and Naby Keita made it 3-1 in injury time.

However, Dinamo Zagreb’s 1-0 loss at Astra in the other Group D game meant Ronny Deila’s side are through despite a trip to Croatia remaining.

Griffiths said: “We’re disappointed to lose the game. I had great chance to make it two each, the goalie’s made a great save but I’ve got to do better.

“But the boys put in a great performance, we’re through now and we’re delighted.”

- David Moyes has added to the Scottish influence at Real Sociedad with the appointment of Billy McKinlay as his assistant coach.


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