Bale Bales Tottenham Out in Europa League!
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Olympique Lyonnais 1
Scorers: Bale (2) Umtiti
Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Sigurdsson), Parker (Livermore), Dembele, Bale; Dempsey (Holtby); Adebayor Subs: (unused) Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Caulker
Andre Villas-Boas switched his team around, playing Brad Friedel in goal with William Gallas and Jan Vertonghen in central defence. Emmanuel Adebayor started with Lewis Holtby among the substitutes.
Tottenham started positively with an early cross from Benoit Assou-Ekotto being driven behind by a defender, with the ball looking as if it was going to end up in the back of the net. Then Bale shot over after good work on the right by Kyle Walker. Lyon were content, at this point, to allow Spurs to have possession but when given the chance they showed they could be dangerous. First, with a shot after slack Tottenham defending on the right allowed Fofana to cut in and shoot. Then, Friedel gathered a header from a corner on their right.
In the first half, the referee tended to wave play on and Spurs were relieved when Lyon penalty appeals fell on deaf ears after a challenge by Vertonghen. Walker and Aaron Lennon were causing problems on the right and both were taken out when danger threatened. After 26 minutes, Mousa Dembele played a ball into the penalty area for Adebayor to run onto but his shot went past the post. A few minutes later, Bale spurned a golden opportunity from good play by Walker. The fright back worked his way into the area and crossed to Bale who shot wide with the goal gaping. The ball hit Adebayor who was offside and bounced into the grateful hands of the goalkeeper.
It was set for a scoreless first half when Dembele was fouled 40 yards from goal. The board to indicate one added minute was being prepared as Bale struck the free-kick which went over the wall and dipped before nestling in the back of the net. Incredible!
After the interval, Spurs almost had a perfect start when the ball fell to Bale in the area but he was offside. Lyon were intent on getting the goal back and frustrated and irritated Tottenham by throwing themselves to the ground with every challenge. Walker was booked when Umtiti went down under an innocuous challenge then Friedel was infuriated with Lopez’s actions in the penalty area. Friedel dealt comfortably with an early shot but after ten minutes, Lyon scored. Gallas headed a threatening cross to the corner of the area where Umtiti met it perfectly on the half-volley to hammer it across the goal and into the top corner of the net. White Hart Lane was stunned apart from the enthusiastic celebrations of the Lyon following in the Park Lane end.
Having drawn level, Lyon were content to hold on but looked very dangerous when going forward. Spurs lost their composure with passes going astray and failing to create any problems for the visitors defence. Friedel made a great save from a powerful shot by Lacazette after he’d gone several past Totteham defenders.
It had been a frustrating night for Bale, apart from the first half free-kick, as he had been unable to find any space to create his usual problems. Then as the match drew to a close and Lyon were looking to go home with a draw, Bale suddenly became more influential. A cross from the left warned of possible danger and then the goalkeeper was forced to punch out a fierce shot before another effort was blocked but it was all looking as if it was too late.
Deep into the three minutes of added time, Bale was brought down as he moved across the pitch, twenty five yards from goal. A free-kick – he couldn’t possibly do it again. He did! Over the wall and beyond the despairing dive of the goalkeeper. The stadium erupted. The perfect ending to create another glorious evening of European football at White Hart Lane.
Time only to kick-off and Spurs have a vital goal advantage for next week in Lyon. Tottenham know to expect a tough evening in France if they are to progress to the next round of the Europa League.
Gareth Bale just keeps producing the goals for Spurs – no-one else seems capable of scoring – it’s 6 for Bale in the last four games. Incredible – unbelievable but true!