NS Mura 2 Tottenham 1: Spurs sweating on Europa Conference League knockout spot after shock defeat at Slovenian minnows

SPURS Europa Conference League hopes hit the skids in the shadow of Slovenia’s top ski resort.

Antonio Conte’s men now have a mountain to climb to reach the knockout phase of UEFA’s third competition after Amadej Marosa grabbed a last-gasp winner for minnows Mura.

The hosts, who had won just one of their previous 11 matches in all competitions, had taken a shock 11th minute lead through Tomi Horvat.

Things then went from bad to worse for Tottenham when Ryan Sessegnon was sent off before the break.

Harry Kane thought he had salvaged what could have been a crucial point for the 10-man Spurs with a 72nd minute equaliser.

And with Group G leaders Rennes pegged back to a 3-3 draw by Vitesse Arnhem it meant the Londoners could have still qualified for the KO phase automatically as group winners with a win over the French club in a fortnight – had they held on for a point here.

But they did not and now they are probably going to have to win that game to reach the play-offs to decide the rest of the last 16.

This was a disaster for Tottenham.


With Mura’s stadium deemed not up to scratch by UEFA, this clash was switched to Maribor some 35 miles away where Covid restricted the crowd to a half-capacity 5,000, with 200 of them having travelled from London.

Conte made NINE changes from the team that started Sunday’s 2-1 win over Leeds, with Japhet Tanganga and Harry Kane the only ones to keep their places.

Kane came off the bench and netted a 19-minute hat-trick to seal a 5-1 win for Spurs in the reverse fixture in September.

Mura should have been well rested after their clash with Olimpija at the weekend was postponed.

After being crowned Slovenian champions last term, Mura are currently languishing in mid-table. 

But they took a shock 11th minute lead when forward Horvat, after being released down the right, cut inside Davinson Sanchez and from just inside the box unleashed a curling shot which flew past Pierluigi Gollini into the far corner.

Bryan Gil blazed an effort way over the bar as Spurs went in search of an equaliser.

Things then went from bad to worse for the Londoners as Sessegnon, making his first start since August, was sent off after his rash challenge on Ziga Kous rightly earned him a second yellow card in the 31st minute.

This sparked Spurs briefly into life with Kane having a cross-cum-shot tipped away by Matko Obradovic before the England captain dragged another shot wide.

But they almost conceded again before the break when Nik Lorbek fired just wide with Gollini rooted to the spot.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall in the Spurs dressing room at half time.

Er, or perhaps not.

Conte was late out for the second half and with the dugouts on the opposite side of the pitch and the game back underway, he sprinted around the perimeter of the pitch to retake his seat.

It was probably the fastest anybody from Spurs had moved all night.

And with his team showing little improvement, the unhappy Italian wielded the axe with a quadruple substitution in the 53rd minute.

Dele Alli, having just been booked with Mura’s Martin Karamarko for an impromptu pushing match, capped another miserable display by being replaced by Son Heung-min.

The equally as bad Gil and defenders Joe Rodon and Matt Doherty were also dragged as Conte sent on Lucas Moura, Ben Davies and Eric Dier in a bid to spare Spurs blushes.

The switches almost paid off immediately with Son having a shot well pushed over by Obradovic before an unmarked Kane headed weakly at the keeper from the resulting corner.

But the frontman made no mistake when Moura’s pass freed him in the box in the 72nd minute and he deftly lifted the ball over the oncoming Obradovic to make it 1-1.

It was his 18th goal for club and country this season.

Mura’s numerical advantage had been wiped out in both ways – as now you could not tell they had an extra man.

The passion and purpose had returned to Spurs – perhaps a little bit too much as Conte was shown a yellow card by Portuguese referee Antonio Nobre for disputing a throw.

Kane headed over at the far post and Moura did likewise with a shot from long range.

But there was a sting in the tail as in the fourth minute of stoppage time Marosa broke clear and Sanchez again defended poorly as he ended up deflecting his shot past Gollini and into the net.

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