Date: 2nd February 2012 at 9:55am
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NextGen with club Logos.jpg

This just in courtesy of NexGen…

Tottenham Hotspur progressed to the Semi-Finals of the inaugural NextGen Series  following a tight clash with Liverpool at White Hart Lane.

Liverpool were unfortunate to bow out of the tournament creating the better chances in the 90 minutes but struggled to turn their dominance into goals and were subsequently punished by Spurs.

Shaquille Coulthirst pounced on a parried save from Liverpool keeper Belford to give Spurs the lead after 72 minutes. Raheem Sterling and Toni Silva caused havoc throughout the 90 minutes for the Reds, and spurned several golden opportunities to give Liverpool the lead.

Tottenham will now face the winner of FC Barcelona vs. Ajax which will be played at the Mini Estadi next Wednesday.

The full time score, and scorers, for the game were:

Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Coulthirst) vs. 0 Liverpool FC – Full match report on the game –

 The two remaining English teams in the NextGen tournament faced off at White Hart Lane as Tottenham played host to Liverpool in a game that promised to showcase the crème de la crème of English academy football in a bid to progress to the semi-final stages.

Despite boasting a squad of undoubted quality, Liverpool were yet to show their best form in the tournament, qualifying out of NextGen Group 2 by virtue of Wolfsburg and Molde’s inability to capitalise on the Mersey giants stuttering campaign with coach Rodolfo Borrell hoping his fledglings used the opportunity against Spurs to show their true potential.

The visitors form is in stark contrast to their hosts, Tim Sherwood guiding his Spurs squad to four wins and two draws to qualify top of NextGen Group 4, highlighted by thumping 7-1 victory over Inter Milan in late August.

Given the disparity between the two teams results and the home advantage, it would have been easy to regard Spurs as favourites to progress to the semi-finals, but as Inter’s victory over Sporting proved, in a knock-out scenario, the form book can go out of the window, especially when faced with a side as dangerous as Liverpool.

And so it proved in an eventful first half with both sides having chances to score in the first ten minutes with Tottenham centre back Milos Meljkovic involved in both incidents.

The 16-year-old first forcing a fine save out of Tyrell Belford from a Alex Pritchard corner, moments before gifting Michael Ngoo possession in his own area, with the defender recovering before the big Liverpool striker could get the ball out of his feet.

Tottenham’s much vaunted midfield pairing of Massimo Luongo and Jake Munns had the majority of the ball in midfield, but looked vulnerable down the flanks with Raheem Sterling and Tony Silva pressing high up the pitch to support lone striker Ngoo.

It was a tactic which should have paid dividends in the 32nd minute, Sterling, in easily his finest performance of the tournament, beat his marker before finding Ngoo in the area with the striker again taking an age to get his shot away before dragging it tamely wide of goalkeeper Jonathan Miles near post.

The pair combined again, Ngoo collecting a pass from Suso, to play in Sterling but having jinked past a trio of Spurs defenders the winger couldn’t keep his shot on target and Spurs escaped.

Liverpool would let Spurs off the hook again before half-time with Toni Silva the guilty culprit, having found himself one on one with Miles, the Portuguese elected and failed to round the Spurs keeper when a shot might have been easier.

The half came to a close with another Liverpool attempt at goal, Suso firing straight at Miles from the edge of the area having been teed up by captain Conor Coady.

Having wrestled the initiative from the home side, the second half began as the first ended with Liverpool again on the front foot, Ngoo again failing to find the target after a sharp edge of the Spurs box.

Under incessant Liverpool pressure, Spurs became increasingly reliant on set pieces and nearly capitalised on 54 minutes, Veljkovic flashing a header wide from another Pritchard corner.

The Reds continued to batter on the Spurs door, forcing Jake Nicholson to bravely block an effort from Toni Silva with his keeper in no mans land following another Sterling raid down the Spurs right.

Having wasted a glut of opportunities to take control of the tie, Liverpool were punished for their profligacy in the 71st minute, Shaquile Coulthirst reacting first to give Spurs the lead after Liverpool goalkeeper Tyrell Berlford could only parry a deflected shot back into his own six yard box.

Liverpool continued to dominate and would have drawn level had it not been for the heroics of Jonathan Miles in the Spurs goal, first spreading himself superbly to deny Raheem Sterling, deflecting the wingers shot past the post, before reacting equally impressively from the resulting corner to deny Tony Silva.

The Reds rang the changes in an effort to draw level, introducing Adam Morgan and Krisztian Adorjan for Jesus Fernandez and Michael Ngoo with 15 minutes remaining, but the change did little to change their luck in front of goal, seeing two opportunities deep into injury time go begging.

Having won a free-kick near the corner flag, substitute Adorjan rolled the ball to Sterling at the edge of the box, striking the ball first time, Sterlings drive drive appeared destined for the bottom corner only to be deflected over the bar, with the last incident of the game coming from the resulting corner, Adam Morgan rolling a shot agonisingly wide of Miles post.

Spurs can count themselves lucky to be in the next round and await an enticing semi-final against either Barcelona or Ajax, but Liverpool, with by far their most impressive performance of the campaign, only have themselves to blame for failing to convert their dominance into goals.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): J Miles – J Barthram (sub: W Ekong, 79′), M Veljkovic, J Nicholson, K Stewart – A Pritchard, M Luongo, J Munns, T Gomelt (sub: N Bentaleb, 64′) – S Coulthirst, S Coulibaly


Subs not used: B Granger, C Ceballos, K McEvoy, L Angol

Booked: Nicholson, Veljkovic, Bentaleb

Coach: Tim Sherwood

Liverpool (4-4-1-1): T Belford – R McLaughlin, S Sama, A Wisdom, J Flanagan – T Silva, C Coady, C Roddan, R Sterling – J Fernandez (sub: A Morgan, 77′) – M Ngoo (sub: K Adorjan, 77′)

Subs not used: D Ward, M McGiveron, M Pelosi, K Emilsson.

Booked: Sterling, Adorjan, Coady