Tottenham play Lyon in the Europa League which be only the third time they have been drawn against a French club in European competition. Lyon were their opponents in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1967 and they met Nantes in the UEFA Cup in 1971-72 on their way to winning the trophy for the first time.
Olympique Lyonnais (ECWC 2nd Round)
The first leg was played in France at the end of November, 1967 with Lyon finishing with a single goal advantage for the return leg at White Hart Lane. Both teams finished with ten men after Alan Mullery and Andre Guy were sent off in the first half. In the new book, The Glory Glory Nights by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley, the furious Tottenham manager, Bill Nicholson, was quoted as saying,
“The match was a disgrace. This Lyon side played more like Rugby League than Football League.”
The second leg match was played a fortnight later with Tottenham expecting to progress to the next round. Jimmy Greaves put Spurs two up by the interval but instead of building on that advantage, Tottenham allowed Lyon back into the game with a goal ten minutes after the interval. With Lyon now having the benefit of an away goal, Spurs had to win by two clear goals. Cliff Jones restored that position but Lyon responded again. Alan Gilzean provided Spurs with the two goal cushion they needed for a third time but with ten minutes remaining Lyon scored their third. The match ended at 4 – 3 to Tottenham (4 – 4 on aggregate) but it was Lyon who progressed on the away goals.
Bill Nicholson was extremely critical of his players and the basic mistakes they made which contributed to Spurs being eliminated from the competition.
Nantes (UEFA Cup 2nd Round)
The first leg was again in France in late October and ended goalless. It was this match against Nantes which became the focus of attention in Hunter Davies, The Glory Game and the frustrations of Martin Chivers who was lambasted throughout the game by Eddie Baily for a seeming lack of endeavour. The team put in a poor performance but the tie was delicately balanced.
Tottenham had scored nine goals at home to Keflavik in the previous round but the return match against Nantes in London was another close affair. Martin Peters gave Tottenham an early lead but it lead to a very nervous European evening as Spurs dominated the first half but failed to take a number of chances.
Spurs held on and progressed to the next round on their way to their second European trophy success.