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Tottenham Hotspur FC bowed out of the UEFA Europa League despite a resounding 4-0 success at Shamrock Rovers FC in their final Group A encounter.
Spurs required a handsome victory and for PAOK FC to defeat FC Rubin Kazan to progress, and first-half goals from Steven Pienaar, Andros Townsend and Jermain Defoe, coupled with an opener for the Greek side offered them hope. Harry Kane added a fourth but a second-half equaliser in Salonika confirmed Tottenham's elimination alongside their hosts, who ended point-less.
Tottenham created little in the opening half hour with Defoe their liveliest player, having one shot blocked and another saved by Richard Brush in the early stages, while Danny Rose struck the bar with a cross-cum-shot. Three Spurs goals in six minutes in the reverse fixture suggested that Harry Redknapp's side had the necessary firepower when chances were forthcoming and they were equally ruthless here after Pienaar struck on 29 minutes.
The midfielder turned on the edge of the area and his powerful low drive took a wicked deflection to beat Brush and open the floodgates again. The second goal after 38 minutes underlined Tottenham's quality with Defoe's lay-off wonderfully dispatched first time into the top corner by Townsend, and the London side were really in the running on the stroke of half-time when Defoe buried a third from close range.
The hosts needed a rallying call from manager Michael O'Neill in his last game at the helm and his interval words had the desired effect as Billy Dennehy drew a near-post save from Carlo Cudicini. Spurs responded with Sandro striking the upright and goalbound efforts from Pienaar and Townsend being blocked by last-ditch tackles.
Substitute Kane and Sandro called Brush into action again, Niko Kranjčar fizzed an attempt just wide and Iago Falqué hit a post before Kane's added-time fourth, but Tottenham's race was run thanks to events in Greece.
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