Sherwood points to state of pitch as Spurs trip up

Yevhen Konoplyanka

Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood highlighted the poor pitch at the Dnipro Arena as a main factor in his side’s inability to score in their Europa League defeat at the hands of Dnipro.

A late penalty from Liverpool target Yevhen Konoplyanka settled the first leg of this round of 32 tie in favour of the Ukrainian side, although both teams were guilty of missing several chances — with Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado the main culprit for the visitors.

The Spain striker turned a glorious 55th-minute chance over the bar from five yards with Spurs in the ascendancy.

Sherwood, whose side were blocked by Uefa from training on the pitch on Wednesday, questioned the state of the surface after tasting defeat in his first European outing as a manager.

“He would expect to score,” Sherwood said of Soldado’s chance.

“I haven’t seen it again but I’m not sure he will be too complimentary about the pitch.

“I am not using it as an excuse, not for the chance, as both teams played on it, but I’m sure that it must have played some part in Robbie missing that one.

“The pitch was a disgrace, it is no excuse as both teams had to play on it but it is possibly the worst pitch I have experienced in a long time.”

Konoplyanka’s penalty came 10 minutes from time after Jan Vertonghen had brought down Brazilian striker Matheus inside the box, but Sherwood is certain his side will play better in the return leg at White Hart Lane next week.

“We could have played better,” he conceded. “We will score at the Lane, guaranteed, but it depends how many we will have to score.”

Former Tottenham boss Juande Ramos is in charge at Dnipro and he revealed he sent his side out to accrue a first-leg advantage, rather than look to draw the game with the hope of springing a surprise in the return.

“Our target was to score as much as possible, a draw was not for us,” he said.

“Luckily we were just able to score the goal which gives us some advantage but we are pretty aware of the fact that in London we will have 90 difficult and serious minutes.”

FC DNIPRO: Boyko, Fedetskiy, Strinic, Rotan, Mazuch, Cheberyachko, Zozulya, Kankava, Nascimento (Kulakov 90), de Paula (Polytilo 77), Konoplyanka.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Friedel, Naughton, Rose, Capoue, Dawson, Vertonghen, Paulinho, Bentaleb, Soldado (Kane 85), Townsend (Eriksen 64), Chadli.

Referee: A Lahoz (Spain).


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