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  • Tottenham 1-3 Benfica, Europa League

Tempers flare as sorry Spurs crumble against Benfica

ESPN staff
March 13, 2014
Luisao scored twice to put the tie firmly in Benfica's hands © Getty Images
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The pressure on Tim Sherwood and Tottenham cranked up a gear as their hopes of reaching the Europa League quarter-finals were made remote by Benfica's comprehensive victory at White Hart Lane.

Sherwood publicly criticised his players after Saturday's embarrassing 4-0 defeat to rivals Chelsea, which midfielder Sandro revealed led to a furious two-hour crisis meeting at Stamford Bridge.

However, there was to be no morale-boosting response in this last 16 tie against Benfica, who ran out 3-1 victors to make them overwhelming favourites to progress ahead of next week's second leg.

Failure to overcome the Portuguese giants - now unbeaten in 24 matches - likely means Tottenham face another year without a trophy and is hardly the ideal preparation for Sunday's North London derby against Arsenal.

That is a match which could extinguish any remaining top-four hopes harboured by Spurs, whose manager Sherwood's position is likely to come under even more scrutiny after this latest defeat.

Benfica were always going to prove tough opponents, with last year's Europa League runners-up arriving in London unbeaten in 18 weeks.

They had won 21 of 23 fixtures in all competitions during that run, which looked likely to be extended when Bolton loanee Rodrigo slotted home after a tremendous Ruben Amorim ball just before the half-hour mark.

Spurs failed to test Benfica goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the first half and were jeered off at half-time, from which they returned with Emmanuel Adebayor uncharacteristically dragging wide when well placed.

The missed chance allowed the visitors to take control as woeful defending allowed Luisao to divert home, before Christian Eriksen reduced the deficit with a wonderful free-kick.

However, Spurs never looked likely saving their 11-match unbeaten European record at White Hart Lane as Luisao smashed home his second of the night, with Sherwood and counterpart Jorge Jesus refusing to shake hands at the final whistle.

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