Tottenham Join Arsenal in the Knockout Stages of the NextGen Series
By Adrian Back | December 14, 2012 4:12 AM EST
Tottenham will join their north London rivals Arsenal in the last 16 of the NextGen series, despite a 2-0 defeat to Anderlecht, after they finished as one of the best third-placed teams in the competition.
The Spurs Under-19 side knew that they must avoid defeat to be guaranteed qualification but were unable to prevent goals from Leander Dendoncker and Michael Heylen as the Belgian side leapfrogged them into second place.
However, the eight points that Tottenham secured in their six games was enough to see them progress to the knockout stages of the competition where they will be joined by table topping Barcelona.
Taking to the field for the first time without their manager Alex Inglethorpe, who recently left to take up a similar role at Liverpool, Tottenham started the game brightly as they looked to secure an early goal.
Dictating the play in the early stages was midfielder Milos Veljkovi whose precise passes consistently found the runs of rampaging left-back Grant Ward who was a threat down the flank the entire game.
Tottenham were also having plenty of joy down the right as winger Roman Michael-Percil continually threatened but it was Ward who came the closest in the first 45 minutes as he cut inside onto his right foot and curled the ball past goalkeeper Davy Roe, only to see the ball hit the post and spin away from goal.
It was Ward again who threatened just minutes later as his left footed shot stung the fingertips of Roe who did well to keep the ball from flying into the back of the net.
In the second-half Anderlecht made Spurs pay for not taking their chances and as the hour mark approached Leander Dendoncker found himself unmarked in the penalty area and he clinically curled the ball home past Lawrence Vigouroux.
After a twenty minute stoppage due to a nasty accidental clash between Nabil Bentaleb collided with Kevin Stewart, play resumed and Nathan Kabasele was brought down by the Spurs keeper.
Anderlecht captain Michael Heylen saw his penalty well saved but Alexandre De Bruyn was on hand to steer the ball home and hand the away side the win.
The Belgian side qualify in second place behind Barcelona, while Tottenham make it through and will hope to better their performance from last season when they were knocked out after fielding an ineligible player in the knockout stages.
While Tottenham join Arsenal and Aston Villa as the English sides to have already secured their place in the last 16, Liverpool and Chelsea must wait until January to learn their fate.
Chelsea end their campaign against Ajax and must avoid a heavy defeat as either Marseille, who finished third in Arsenal's group, or Liverpool could take their spot if they win their final group game against champions Inter Milan.
Below are the 14 teams that have already qualified for the knockout stages.
Barcelona, Anderlecht, Spurs, CSKA, PSG, Juventus, PSV, A.Villa, Sporting, Inter, Rosenborg, Olympiacos, Arsenal, Ajax
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