Spurs suffer more penalty shoot-out heartache

15:11 29 May 2012

Nabil Bentaleb

Nabil Bentaleb

EMPICS Sport

Tottenham’s Academy reached the final of the Volksbank Cup in Germany at the weekend – but finished as the runners-up after losing a penalty shootout to Mexican side Club America.

Competing in the eight-team tournament in Europe, Spurs’ Under-19s qualified from their group and then beat Werder Bremen 3-0 in the semi-final.

They also dominated the final but were held to a goalless draw and, one week after Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties in the Champions League final to deny Spurs their place at Europe’s top table, the unfortunate Alex Pritchard missed the decisive spot-kick as Club America triumphed 4-3.

“It was an awful way to end it but there are lots of positives to take from the tournament,” said academy coach Alex Inglethorpe.

“The result in the final is hard to take because I think we were the better team. Club America were good but they backed right off us – we had all the ball, all the initiative and a couple of chances but we couldn’t score.

“The most pleasing thing about the tournament is that, whilst we’ve finished second, the best players in the tournament were ours.

“Nabil Bentaleb, Jack Bartram, Kevin Stewart, Alex Pritchard and Ryan Fredericks were all very, very good. Nabil in particular looked like a complete midfield player.

“The reason we go to these tournaments is because the Premier League is an international league. We’ve played a Mexican side, two German sides, a Swiss side and a Mexican side. We know that we can compete against some of the best young players in the world.”

Tottenham made a false start to their campaign with a 4-2 defeat against Grasshopper Zurich (Switzerland) in the first of their three 50-minute group matches.

Conceding early on and then compounding the error by immediately going for broke, Spurs found themselves 3-0 down in 16 minutes.

Bentaleb pulled a goal back with a penalty after good work from Fredericks, who made three appearances for Harry Redknapp’s first team in the Europa League last season.

However, the Lilywhites were 4-1 down two minutes later, and Grant Ward’s late strike was little more than a consolation.

That left Inglethorpe’s side needing to beat both Hannover 96 (Germany) and RDC Mallorca (Spain) – and they did so.

Jack Munns, Bentaleb and Fredericks were all on target in a 3-0 victory over Hannover – and Alexander McQueen then struck two minutes from time to secure a 1-0 victory over a tactical Mallorca outfit who were playing for a draw.

That set up a semi-final with Werder Bremen, and Bentaleb, Victor Zapata-Caicedo and Ward found the net to book Spurs’ place in the final – which they cruelly lost on spot-kicks.

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