Late Moussa Dembele strike sets up last-16 tie with Inter Milan
Lyon 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Europa League review
After an away style performance at home from Lyon and an abject, sloppy display by Tottenham, it was beginning to look like Spurs would crash out of the Europa League with a whimper.
With the tie in the balance at 2-1, the French outfit played it much like the first leg - seemingly content for Spurs to have the lion’s share of possession, take the initiative and to then attempt to pick Tottenham off on the break.
Lyon’s tactics seemed to be working. They got men behind the ball and invited Spurs to break them down, something that the north London side never really looked like doing.
In the 17th minute, Kyle Walker gave away a needless foul on the touchline. Maxime Gonalons glanced in a header from the resulting free-kick and Lyon’s game plan had been played to perfection.
After that, tactically, Remi Garde’s men didn’t have to change a thing. They defended in numbers and somewhat easily snuffed out Spurs attacks.
Tottenham lacked urgency, spark and creativity. For all their possession, they created few clear-cut chances and rarely troubled Vertcoutre between the Lyon sticks.
As the first-half drew to a close it looked like it was going to be a long night for Andre Villas-Boas' side.
His half-time team talk must have consisted of a few choice words as a different Spurs team reappeared after the break.
The urgency that was lacking in the first 45 was somehow found in the second and Tottenham looked a completely different outfit.
With all the talk of Gareth Bale and his current form, the script looked written for him to come to the aid of his floundering team-mates. But Bale obviously hadn’t read it.
When Scott Parker – who was poor on the night- sent Emmanuel Adebayor away down the right, who then delivered a brilliant ball into the Welshman’s path, it looked like Bale would be Tottenham’s saviour once more.
Bale, however, slotted his volley inches the wrong side of the post. If Spurs’ in-form flyer couldn’t save them, who could?
The game then transformed into somewhat of a training game, Tottenham’s attack vs. Lyon’s defence. The French outfit stood strong, with Dejan Lovren outstanding at the heart of their back line.
Spurs came close, with forward Adebayor hooking the ball onto the top of the Lyon bar and Aaron Lennon having a credible penalty shout turned down from the resulting rebound.
It looked as though Spurs were to fall agonisingly short.
When Dembele picked out the ball a few yards outside of the opposing penalty area, alarm bells hardly rang. By his standards, the Belgian had a game to forget – but he more than made up for it with a moment of magic at the death.
He dropped his shoulder, skipped passed his marker and unleashed a powerful drive that nestled perfectly in the bottom corner to send Spurs fans into raptures.
Much like the first leg, Tottenham had a saviour – but this time, it wasn’t Gareth Bale.
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