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ROMAN STOPS A CRASH IN BERNE; CHAMPS LGE: 1ST LEG YOUNG BOYS 3 TOTTENHAM 2.

Byline: DARREN LEWIS

DON'T BE fooled by the scoreline.

This was embarrassing for Spurs and at times embarrassingly easy for the side they thought they'd only have to turn up to beat.

The inquest began as early as half time last night here at the Stade de Suisse, where only a late first-half goal from the otherwise abject Sebastien Bassong saved t h e m f r o m t o t a l humiliation.

Even then it could have been worse had the outstanding striker Henri Bienvenu not missed with a free header 20 minutes from time.

Of even if second-half sub Christian Schneuwly not blasted over the bar with the goal at his mercy and 12 minutes to go. And again two minutes later.

Roman Pavlyuchenko's 83rd-minute strike papered over some massive cracks to give the scoreline a positive spin.

But Spurs have no place in the Champions League playing like this. Optimists and older fans of the club will point to the club's first European campaign, back in 1962, when Spurs were 3-0 down to Gornik of Poland in a first-leg away tie, only grabbing a couple of late goals to get it back to 4-2. They crushed the Poles in the second leg 8-1. But Young Boys played with an authority that suggests they are not to be taken lightly at White Hart Lane next week.

And should the unthinkable happen Redknapp need not consider hanging himself as he suggested he would do before this match. With a pounds 20million jackpot going up in smoke, chairman Daniel Levy may well string up his manager himself.

Despite their stunning victory to see off Fenerbahce in the last round of qualifying, even the most optimistic home fan was well aware last night Young Boys were facing a steep step up in class.

Or so we thought. Vladimir Petkovic's men got off to a blistering start to leave Tottenham heads spinning.

On three minutes midfielder Senad Lulic drilled a low shot against the base of Heurelho Gomes' right-hand post. With the north Londoners' backline in disarray, Young Boys took the lead a minute later.

It was Bienvenu's attempt from 25 yards that hit teammate Ammar Jemal en route to goal but fell kindly for Lulic who slotted past Gomes from eight yards.

Defoe flashed a snapshot over the Young Boys' bar from the edge of their box.

But Pavlyuchenko gave the ball away just inside the home side's half and showed appallingly little appetite to win it back. The home side broke in stunning fashion with Thierry Doubai nicking the ball forward to Bienvenu and he left Michael Dawson for dead to bury it.

So much for the high-fives and premature celebrations back in London when Spurs were paired with the team supposedly the weakest of their possible opponents.

Bassong at the back, in for Ledley King, was terrible, Wilson Palacios in midfield for Tom Huddlestone was distinctly average and, at right full-back, Vedran Corluka was leaden-footed.

Everton were the last English side to concede two goals in a Champions League qualifier, when they lost 2-1 in Spain in the second leg against Villarreal in August 2005. David Moyes' men were eliminated 4-1 on aggregate.

Incredibly, last night, there was even worse to come.

Attacking midfielder Moreno Costanzo played a through-ball Bassong should have reached but allowed disgracefully to slide past him. In came Xavier Hochstrasser from the right to smash the ball past a helpless Gomes.

Tottenham were standing on the brink of an unmitigated disaster against a team which had won just one of their opening five league games.

And yet they were playing Spurs off the park.

On came Huddlestone for Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

Gareth Bale dropped to left-back and Huddlestone lined up alongside Palacios to f i

a l l y g i v e Tottenham's awful defence protection.

The chink of light came shortly before half-time, as Bassong redeemed himself by heading in Bale's corner.

Had Defoe nodded in just before the break it could have been even better.

Defoe limped off with a suspected hamstring injury before Pavlyuchenko's lifeline.

YOUNG BOYS: Wolfli 7, Sutter 8, Spycher 8, Affolter 7, Jemal 7, Lulic 9, Tape Doubai 8, Degen 7, Hochstrasser 8, Costanzo 7 (Schneuwly 65, 5), Bienvenu 8.

TOTTENHAM: Gomes 5, Corluka 5, Dawson 4, Bassong 3, Assou-Ekotto 4 (Huddlestone 35, 6), Palacios, 5, Mo dric 5 (Kranjcar 45, 5), Bale 6, Pavlyuchenko 7, Defoe 5 (Keane 66).

CAPTION(S):

DO IT MY WAY Harry Redknapp shakes up his team after their awful start SHOCKER Young Boys celebrate as they take a stunning 3-0 lead against shell-shocked Spurs HEAD BOY Bassong gives Tottenham hope just before the break by heading his side's opener
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 18, 2010
Words:788
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