PARIS, February 20- Juande Ramos earned a measure of revenge for his sacking by Tottenham Hotspur as Dnipro snatched a late 1-0 win over his former club in the Europa League last 32 first leg on Thursday.
Ramos was axed by Spurs in October 2008 after just 12 months in charge at White Hart Lane, but the 59-year-old is 90 minutes away from making his old employers pay after Yevhen Konoplyanka’s penalty in the closing stages gave the Ukrainian club a slender advantage to defend in the second leg in north London on February 27.
The game was given the green light despite reports that at least 60 have died in three days of violent political protests in Kiev.
Dnipro are based 220 miles away from the Ukrainian capital, but the shocking scenes in Kiev still resonated in Dnipropetrovsk, where there was a minute’s silence before kick-off and both teams wore black armbands in a show of respect for the dead.
The visitors were left to rue a terrible miss by Roberto Soldado early in the second half, the Spanish striker scuffing over with the goal at his mercy four yards out.
Dnipro stole the win in the 81st minute when Jan Vertonghen gave away a penalty as he fouled Matheus just inside the area and Konoplyanka, a transfer target for Liverpool, stepped up to slot in the spot-kick via a post.
A Paulinho effort hit a post in the final moments, but Spurs were unable to scramble in the rebound, and manager Tim Sherwood later blamed the state of the pitch for Soldado’s miss.
“I am not using it as an excuse, not for the chance, as both teams played on it but I am sure that it must have played some part in Robbie missing that one,” he said.
“The pitch was a disgrace, it is no excuse as both teams had to play on it but it is possibly the worst pitch I have experienced in a long time.”
“We could have played better,” he conceded. “We will score at the Lane, guaranteed, but it depends how many we will have to score.”
– No way through for Swansea –
Swansea City performed well against Napoli but couldn’t find a way past the Serie A giants at the Liberty Stadium.
Visiting goalkeeper Rafael Cabral made a crucial save from Wilfried Bony in the first half after the striker had latched on to a superb pass by Pablo Hernandez.
Rafael then came off injured at the interval, and his replacement Pepe Reina continued to thwart the Welsh club in the second half, keeping out headers from Ashley Williams and Chico Flores as well as a curling effort by Wayne Routledge.
“I think we’re really pleased with the way we played. It tells a lot that we’re disappointed to come away with a 0-0 draw,” captain Williams told ITV.
– Juventus in control –
Meanwhile, Serie A leaders Juventus appear to have one foot in the last 16 after beating Trabzonspor of Turkey 2-0 in Turin.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo took advantage of a lucky ricochet to fire Juve ahead early on, but it was Paul Pogba’s goal deep in injury time that allowed them to take a significant lead into the return leg next week.
Juve could face compatriots Fiorentina in the next round, with La Viola winning 3-1 away to Esbjerg in Denmark.
However, Lazio face an uphill struggle after losing 1-0 at home to Ludogorets of Bulgaria, and Ajax are staring at the exit door after a 3-0 home humbling against Salzburg.
The 2011 winners Porto squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home against Eintracht Frankfurt, while last season’s runners-up Benfica – potential last-16 opponents for Tottenham – beat PAOK 1-0 in Greece.
Lyon came away with a goalless draw from their trip to face Chornomorets Odessa in Ukraine, but the violence in the Ukrainian capital meant Dynamo Kiev’s game against Valencia was moved to Nicosia in Cyprus, with the Spaniards winning 2-0 through late goals from Eduardo Vargas and Sofiane Feghouli.