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Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012

Spurs, Lazio play to draw


MILAN, Italy — Tottenham had two goals disallowed in a 0-0 draw at home to Serie A joint leader Lazio in their opening game of the Europa League group stage on Thursday, while defending champion Atletico Madrid cruised to a 3-0 win at Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

News photo
Best foot forward: Tottenham's Gareth Bale takes a free kick against Lazio on Thursday in London. The match ended 0-0. AP

United States international Clint Dempsey had a goal ruled out for offside halfway through the first period, before Steven Caulker saw his header struck off for his push on Lazio's Stefano Mauri.

Dempsey disagreed with the referee's decision, which prevented him from scoring his first goal for Spurs since signing from Fulham on the Aug. 31 deadline day.

"I thought I was level with the line," he said. "It was a good ball from (Gareth) Bale and as it went in I thought I'd opened my account but it was waved offside.

"That's the way it goes sometimes, they defended well, set up to counter-attack and were tough to break down. But we had some chances and were unlucky not to get the goal tonight."

Alvaro Gonzalez hit the post in the first half for Lazio, which failed to win for the first time this season.

"Playing against this team in London, on their pitch, isn't so easy," Lazio coach Vlado Petkovic said. "I think today we showed our capacity for suffering as well as assuming responsibility at certain moments."

In Israel, Cristian Rodriguez, Diego Costa and Raul Garcia all scored as Atletico made easy work of Hapoel, despite playing without star striker Radamel Falcao, who was rested for the Group B opener.

Elsewhere, three-time winner Liverpool beat Young Boys 5-3 in a thrilling match in Switzerland, Inter Milan needed a last-minute equalizer to draw 2-2 at home to Rubin Kazan and French League leader Marseille scraped a similar 2-2 draw at Fenerbahce.

"We have come away with a young team into a European game and I want to talk about the five goals we scored which were absolutely magnificent," Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers said. "Of course we could have defended better and there is no question the three goals we gave away were disappointing."

Inter Milan, another club seeking a fourth title, needed a stoppage-time goal as it twice came from behind against Rubin. The Russian side took a shock lead when Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic saved Bibras Natkho's spot-kick, only for the rebound to fall to Aleksandr Ryazantsev, who lashed it home.

Teenager Marko Livaja leveled with his first goal for Inter but Salomon Rondon looked to have given Rubin a historic win at San Siro before Yuto Nagatomo's equalizer.

"I'm angry because so many things went well, but unfortunately we didn't manage to win," Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni said. "It really annoys me not to have given the joy of a win to the fans. It will seem simplistic, but unfortunately we were punished by two episodes."

Marseille had to score twice in the final eight minutes to rescue its draw in Turkey.

The French side, which has won all five of its league games this season, seemed to be heading for a surprise defeat following goals from Fenerbahce's Caner Erkin and Alex.

However, Mathieu Valbuena pulled one back for the Ligue 1 team eight minutes from time before Andre Ayew sent the vociferous home fans into despair with the final kick of the game.

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