Sigurdsson saves Spurs from Maribor defeat
Thursday, 25 October 2012
NK Maribor 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur FC
Gylfi Sigurdsson rescued a third straight Group J draw for the visitors after Robert Berić had threatened an upset.
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NK Maribor consolidated second place in Group J despite being pegged back in a draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur FC.
The Slovenian champions were on course to add to their matchday one scalp of Panathinaikos FC when Robert Berić prodded them into a half-time lead, but the London side regrouped after the break and Gylfi Sigurdsson ensured they picked up a third consecutive draw with a 58th-minute equaliser.
Tottenham settled well at the Stadion Ljudski vrt, though Sigurdsson could only slice an early opening wide as both sides tried to find a foothold in the game. Indeed, it took until the half-hour mark for a goalkeeper to be called into action, Sigurdsson again involved as his header from Tom Huddlestone's free-kick was plucked from the air by Jasmin Handanovič.
Sandro wasted no time in following up that attempt, his powerful drive from 25 metres whistling just wide, and Jermain Defoe hooked an effort wide, but the hosts still offered a threat, with Aleš Mejač firing across the face of goal. It was a warning that Spurs failed to heed as the Purples took the lead after 42 minutes when Dejan Mezga skipped past Huddlestone and squared for Berić to poke past Hugo Lloris.
Darko Milanič's men provided their threat largely on the counterattack and it nearly reaped dividends again after the resumption as Tavares tested Lloris with a low drive and Goran Cvijanovič rifled over. André Villas-Boas' side remained unflustered and finally breached the home rearguard when Sigurdsson bundled in the equaliser after Defoe's shot had been blocked on the line.
Agim Ibraimi squandered a presentable opportunity to restore Maribor's lead, but Tottenham were now asking more questions, even if Jan Vertonghen's fierce shot from distance was the closest the away side came to a winner. Able to hold firm, Maribor thus moved onto four points in the section, with Spurs on three.