Lazio 0-0 Tottenham

Gareth Bale fires a shot against Lazio

Tottenham require a draw at home from their final Europa League group game after playing out a frustrating stalemate against Lazio in Rome.

Gareth Bale had the ball in the hosts' net within five minutes but it was incorrectly ruled out for offside.

Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a string of impressive saves.

The France international thwarted striker Libor Kozak four times, including a fingertip save to deflect a dipping shot onto the crossbar.

Prior to kick-off Paul Gascoigne, a mercurial midfield talent for both of these clubs in his colourful career, was paraded before supporters at the Stadio Olimpico.

The 45-year-old had not been present at the earlier fixture in September

That earlier stalemate was the first of four in Spurs's five group games this season.

And Panathinaikos's 1-0 win in Athens over MK Maribor on Thursday means a single point for the Londoners against the Greek team on 6 December at White Hart Lane will ensure qualification to the last 32.

Before Thursday's match Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas promised his team would play for the win in Rome, and he selected a competitive starting XI mixing youth and experience.

The midfield of Tottenham included 20-year-old Tom Carroll, and it was his perfectly-weighted ball that released Bale in the fifth minute.

The Welsh international escaped defender Luis Cavanda's attentions, rounded keeper Federico Marchetti and slotted the ball home from an angle.

However, Spanish referee Fernando Teixeira disallowed the goal for an offside - a decision that appeared harsh at the time and worse on replay.

That was Tottenham's brightest moment of the first half, as their central midfield trio of Carroll, Sandro and Clint Dempsey struggled to assert themselves.

It was Spurs keeper Lloris, who retained his place despite conceding five in the league against Arsenal on Saturday, who proved the visitors' saviour.

First, the August deadline day signing tipped a dipping Libor Kozak strike on to the bar, then he successfully blocked a scuffed effort from the Czech frontman wide. Lazio were clearly missing their feared German frontman, Miroslav Klose.

Lloris's best moment of the half came five minutes before the interval, sprinting off his line to smother a Lazio through ball on the very edge of his area.

Tottenham fashioned half-chances of their own, but with no end product.

Bale, who switched to the right wing at points throughout the game, cut inside on 22 minutes and unleashed a fierce cross-shot which Marchetti did well to palm over.

A cross in the second half from Emmanuel Adebayor was headed straight on to the right boot of Clint Dempsey three yards out, before the hosts' captain Stefano Mauri intercepted to cut off the danger.

Tottenham seemed to be exerting some control of the tie, but on 60 minutes Sandro lost the ball in a dangerous area and Kozac found himself through after dispossessing Steven Caulker.

However, composure again deserted the Czech, who dragged his shot badly wide.

With a win needed to assure qualification from Group J on the night, Villas-Boas introduced his artillery just after the hour, bringing on Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon.

But if anything, the change in Tottenham personnel spurred on Lazio, and they could have won it at the death.

An effort on Lloris's goal cannoned off the back of Sandro's head and behind. From the resulting corner centre-back Michael Ciani rose unmarked and headed down and hard.

It was only instinctive reactions from Loris which blocked the effort, the ball bouncing back into danger but ultimately hooked clear, keeping the fixture goalless and Tottenham still in the hunt for the knockout stages.

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