Tottenham travel to Rome to play Lazio in the penultimate Group stage match of this season’s Europa League on Thursday evening. This will be the first competitive meeting between the two clubs in Italy. The opening game in the competition ended scoreless at White Hart Lane, although Spurs did have three goals disallowed. Both teams are undefeated in a very close group with Lazio holding top spot with a two point advantage over Spurs.
The two clubs did play two friendlies in the autumn of 1992 after the completion of the Paul Gascoigne transfer. Lazio won both matches to claim the Capital Cup. They also met in a preseason friendly at White Hart Lane in 2002 which ended 2 – 2. Dean Richards and Jamie Redknapp gave Spurs an early lead but Lazio pulled one back before the interval and levelled in the second half.
Tottenham have, however, met other clubs from Italy in the European competitions.
Champions League Experience
Oct. 2010 v Inter Milan (a) Lost 3 – 4 Bale (3) [Group Stage]
Tottenham supporters have many memories of Spurs only foray into the Champions League and the Italian experience, while initially worrying, in the end was a joy to behold. Spurs were drawn in the same group as Inter Milan, the holders of the Champions League. After a positive start with four points from the opening two matches, Tottenham faced the double header against Inter. They travelled to Milan and after fifteen minutes of the match in the San Siro, Spurs were three goals down and reduced to ten men, Heurelho Gomes having been sent off and conceding a penalty on eight minutes. It was looking bad for Spurs who conceded a fourth goal before the interval. In the second half Garreth Bale took it upon himself to retrieve the situation – he scored a goal, seven minutes into the half taking on the Inter defence from inside his own half and leaving them standing. In the final minutes with Inter still 4 – 1 ahead he produced two further goals with the home defence unable to cope with his direct running and pace. At the end it was Inter who were holding on for the final whistle but Tottenham had restored their pride and were ready for the return game at White Hart Lane.
Nov. 2010 v Inter Milan (h) Won 3 – 1 Van der Vaart, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko [Group Stage]
Feb. 2011 v AC Milan (a) Won 1 – 0 Crouch
Tottenham topped their Group and had to return to the San Siro to play AC Milan. This was a totally different performance from Tottenham. They were well organised and battled for everything before scoring the winner on the break with ten minutes left – a classic European away win. Crouch scored the goal created by Aaron Lennon.
March, 2011 v AC Milan (h) Draw 0 – 0 [Agg. Won 1 - 0]
UEFA Cup Exploits
October, 2008 v Udinese (a) Lost 0 – 2
The UEFA Cup Group stages were organised in an unsatisfactory system with five teams playing four games, two home and two away. Spurs first match was away to Udinese and it was only their second experience of playing a club from Italy.
This match marked the end of Juande Ramos’ time at Tottenham. The weekend following this match, he was replaced by Harry Redknapp. It was an unhappy time in Italy for Spurs as Gomes conceded a penalty midway through the first half having been caught in possession. In a disjointed performance Spurs went further behind with a few minutes remaining to complete their night of misery in a miserable season – ‘2 points from 8 League games’.
The first time Tottenham met Italian opposition in European competition was in season 1971-72. They faced AC Milan in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.
April, 1972 v AC Milan (h) Won 2 – 1 Perryman (2)
April, 1972 v AC Milan (a) Draw 1 – 1 Mullery [Agg. Won 3 - 2]
Spurs withstood Milan’s expected early onslaught and on seven minutes mounted an attack from which Mullery scored. Mullery was the inspiration as they then defended as if for their lives and although Milan scored with a penalty twenty minutes from time, they held out to reach the Final.
Tottenham’s matches against teams from Italy have been limited in number but memorable and full of incident. The match against Lazio in Rome will go some way to determine whether Tottenham can progress to the knock-out stages of the competition which Andre Villas-Boas challenged his players to win at the start of the season.
In September, 1971 as League Cup winners, Tottenham played Torino, the Italian League Cup winners, for the Anglo-Italian Cup over two legs. Tottenham won both matches, 1 – 0 in Italy with Martin Chivers scoring and 2 – 0 in the return, Chivers and Alan Gilzean providing the goals.