Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp had an entire team injured, rested or ineligible at the RSC Olympiyskiy for the first leg against the Ukrainian champions – and his makeshift side held on until 12 minutes from full-time before they lost 2-0 in the UEFA Cup last-32 clash against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Yevgen Seleznov opened the scoring with a header from a free-kick, then Jadson added a second with two minutes remaining.
Dean Parrett, 17, made his debut and the likes of Oscar Jansson, Adam Smith, John Bostock, Ryan Mason and Jonathan Obika could be called upon for the return leg at White Hart Lane.
“I gave one 17-year-old his debut and might have four 17-year-olds next week,” said Redknapp, whose priority is the Carling Cup final three days after the second leg. When we play the second leg it will only be half as strong as this side. If someone can tell me how to find a team the Thursday before a cup final then I’d like to know. It’s a crazy schedule, six games in 17 days and all big games. We have good young players and this is good experience for them.”
Redknapp was pleased with his side’s performance against a team that dropped out of the Champions League but had beaten Barcelona earlier in the season.
“A draw would have been good,” Redknapp said. “I was pleased. We were comfortable and I thought we could have nicked one on the break. We contained them very well and I could see the match finishing 0-0. We were solid and the keeper didn’t have too much to do.”
It was his goalkeeper, Heurelho Gomes, who was at fault for Seleznov’s strike after failing to claim Jadson’s free-kick. Gomes picked up a head injury in the process.
“I don’t want to blame anyone,” Redknapp said.
Jadson’s goal came after a one-two, before wriggling into the penalty area and finishing past Gomes.
“We let him run too far, he’s a clever player,” Redknapp added. “Shakhtar are a good team and the most unlucky not to get through to the Champions League knockout stage, but we are involved in big games and to play as we did for 80 minutes, I was delighted.”
Michael Dawson, Redknapp’s outstanding player in the defeat, acknowledged Tottenham face an uphill task if they are to continue their European adventure this season.
“I thought we did well in the first half and for the first half hour of the second half – but what happened at the end has cost us. We knew coming to a place like this they would have a lot of the ball but we’re disappointed. It’s going to be an uphill task – but we still believe we can do it.”
Dawson added on Five:
“Look at the players who’ve come in, we had a great team out there and believed we could come here and win. But we know how good we are at home and we’ll have to take the game to them.”
Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu added: “It was a very good game, a very good win. It was difficult to get through their defence. We have to prepare for a hard second leg.”