OPPONENTS Olympique Lyonnais (France)
DATE Thursday 14th February 2013
VENUE White Hart Lane






I must admit that I don't know too much about Lyon other than they were good a few years back, being regular Champions League qualifiers and winning French titles and in later years have been financially struggling, meaning they have sold some of their established players and were still doing so in the January transfer window.

With Spurs grabbing Lewis Holtby, it served as a double whammy for this tie, as we have him and Lyon were deprived of Brazilian midfielder Michel Bastos, who has joined Schalke 04 (Holtby's former club) on loan as a replacement.  It was rumoured that Spurs among many clubs, had eyes for Lisandro Lopez and Bafetimbi Gomis, the two potent strikers at the French club, but they remain there and remain a threat to our progress.  One forward who might be featuring is the one who was described as the best player of his generation by David Ginola.  Yoann Gourcuff is a deep lying striker or attacking midfielder and has also been likened to Zinedine Zidane !!  Lyon also have French international striker Anthony Reveillere, who is a big scorer in the French league, but has struggled a little at international level, but he does possess a turn of pace.

A familiar face in midfield will be Steed Malbranque, who turned around his decision to retire after not fitting in at St. Etienne and started playing again with his old club Lyon.  A hard working midfielder, Steed did a good job for Spurs when he was here, chipping in with some useful goals at the time.  A name which might be familiar, from a few years back, is Arnold Mveumba, who is a Congo DR international and is an attacking midfielder too, but has the energy to get up and down the pitch.

Despite their money troubles, Lyon are second in the French top league and are not to be taken lightly.  Spurs have troubles with the lack of strikers available, so Emmanuel Adebayor will be expected to turn it on in this tie and maybe there could be an outside chance Defoe will be back for the second leg, although it might be unlikely.  With Clint Dempsey playing in the hole behind him, Spurs will rely on Bale and Lennon to open up the French defence, but I see it being a quite open match, with goals in it.  However, with former Gooner Remi Garde managing the team, it could be that they shut up shop and try for a 0-0.  I am just hoping that home advantage gives us a goal start to take over to France next week.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2         Olympique Lyonnais     1
Spurs will be without Tom Huddlestone, Younes Kaboul and Sandro (all knee injuries), as well as ankle injury victim Jermain Defoe.

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Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)     Olympique Lyonnais   1 (0)
Europa League  Round of 32 1st leg
Thursday 14th February 2013                               Kick off 20:05
White Hart Lane
Bale 45+1
Bale 90+3
Umtiti 55
Walker (foul on Umtiti) 48 


Umtiti (foul on Lennon) 20
Fofana (dissent)  80


Crowd :   31,762 Weather :  Showery rain, mild
Referee :  Pedro Proenca (POR) Assistant Referees :  Bertino Miranda, Venancio Tome (POR)
Fourth Official :  Antonio Godinho (POR) Additional Assistants :  Duarte Gomes, Joao Capela (POR)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Olympique Lyonnais  : kit
24  Brad FRIEDEL

28  Kyle WALKER      
13  William GALLAS

  8  Scott PARKER  (c)  (29  Jake LIVERMORE 90)
19  Mousa DEMBELE

  7  Aaron LENNON  (22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON 79)
  2  Clint DEMPSEY  (14  Lewis HOLTBY 67)
11  Gareth BALE   

10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Unused subs: 
25  Hugo LLORIS

20  Michael DAWSON
33  Steven CAULKER

   1  Remy VERCOUTRE

15  Milan BISEVAC
  5  Dejan LOVREN
13  Anthony REVEILLERE
23  Samuel UMTITI        

  6  Guieda FOFANA      
21  Maxime GONALONS
10  Alexandre LACAZETTE
17  Steed MALBRANQUE  (  7  Clement GRENIER 82)

  9  Lisandro LOPEZ  (31  Rachid GHEZZAL 88)

18  Bafetimbi GOMIS

Unused subs: 
16  Anthony LOPES
  4  Bakary KONE
12  Jordan FERRI
25  Yassine BENZIA
14  Mouhamadou DABO

Manager :  Andre Villas-Boas Manager :  Remi Garde
Sponsor :   Investec Shirt sponsor :  Veolia
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

There were two moments of magic in this match from Gareth Bale, which proved to be the deciding factor in the final analysis. But the game goes to the second leg with Lyon showing that they will be a side who are capable of crating chances and with home advantage, they will be a tough proposition in a week's time.

There was enough demonstrated in the second half that showed that the French side were comfortable passing the ball around quickly and accurately to pull Spurs out of position. The first half had been somewhat different.

Starting the game with Adebayor up front, with Bale, Dempsey and Lennon behind him, Spurs had Parker and Dembele in front of the back four of Assou-Ekotto, Vertonghen, Gallas and Walker with Brad Friedel in goal. They were set up in a familiar formation, with the ball being moved around quickly and causing Lyon some problems.

A low cross in by Assou-Ekotto, after he had been released down the left by Dempsey, was intercepted by Reveillere, who directed the ball only just wide of the near post for a corner. Bale hit a volley that went wide when he was under pressure, after Benny had switched play to the right with a great ball to Aaron Lennon to cross it in.

Spurs were quite lucky in the 15th minute when Bafetimbi Gomis cut into the area and went around Vertonghen, who stuck out a leg that brought the striker down. The Portuguese referee showed no interest in the claims from the Lyon players. Fofana shot after running in from the right, but the ball went too high and then Lovren got on the end of former Spurs Steed Malbranque's corner, but could only head it straight at Friedel.

Spurs were working the wings quite well, as Lyon were playing quite narrow and Lennon ghosted past Samuel Umtiti, who unceremoniously chopped him down for a yellow card. In the 27th minute, Demeble's cute pass down the right hand channel in the penalty box played in Adebayor, who took the ball early, but failed to hit the target and the ball flew wide. He should really have made Vercoutre work in the Lyon goal. In the next attack a neat move from a throw-in between Dempsey and Bale saw the Welshman set up for a shot form inside the box, but his effort lacked pace or placement and that allowed the keeper to save comfortably.

Much of the play had reached the edge of the box before breaking down for both sides, but when Lennon left a pass to allow Walker to break down the right wing behind him, the low ball across the box found Gareth coming in at the far post and the goal was open in front of him. On his left foot, he looked for all the world like he would open the scoring, but, somehow, he managed to putt he ball back across goal where the ball had come from and although Adebayor was there he was offside and the keeper grabbed the ball anyway. It was an amazing miss from a player who is in such good form at the moment.

Five minutes from half-time, Gomis showed some neat footwork on the edge of the box to make a yard to shoot at goal and he pulled it a foot wide of the post. As the game approached half-time, with many Spurs fans around me annoyed at the pace the team were playing at, Dembele looked to get away from Lacazette, but was brought down by him, some 30 yards from goal. With the wall moved back 10 yards, Gareth Bale stepped up to try and recreate his free-kick goal against Newcastle United from a little closer in last Saturday. As it was, he did even better. Seeming not to hit the ball too hard, he confounded the Lyon keeper, who moved to his left and then went right, but too late, as the ball had flown into the top corner of the net to the goalie's right.

Coming right on half-time, the goal gave Spurs a boost just before the break. During the interval, Paul Coit interviewed Nayim (“From the half-way line”) and there was footage of his Cup-Winners Cup winning goal with the one that flew over Seaman's head. His appearance was a nice nod to the past and with some of the players that Tottenham have brought back to be introduced to the crowd, it shows a nice appreciation of the club's history.

And with a lead going into the second half, Spurs needed to make history by going on from there to produce a lead to take to Lyon. But the visitors started the second half by pushing their midfield further up the pitch to try to inflict some damage on Spurs.

There was an early booking for Kyle Walker, when Umtiti failed to jump and got flattened by Walker's leap, but made a lot of it. Gomis put in a shot that Friedel fell on easily and then, out of nothing, Lyon equalised. 55 minutes had gone and Gallas headed out a cross from the Lyon right wing, with the ball going out to the wing, but Umtiti hit the ball first time with his left foot from 30 yards out and it flew past Friedel before he could move as the ball hit the top corner.

A shocked silence fell over the Lane apart from one corner of the ground and a few isolated cheers from within the Spurs sections where Lyon fans had infiltrated. It was a cracker of a goal, but one which proved to be a fluke, as twice later in the game, Umtiti tried to deliver crosses into the box and the ball was over-hit and went off for a goal-kick each time.

Lyon had stepped up their game and looked as if they might take the lead, never more so when Lacazette weaved through the Spurs defence, beating four men, before hitting a shot at goal from just inside the box, which Friedel made a really good save to push it over the bar. Just after Lewis Holtby came on for Clint Dempsey, a flicked on corner saw Umtiti head wide, when he should have got it on target, but then Spurs started to get a grip on the game again.

Walker and Assou-Ekotto started to get forward again and even William Gallas showed some enterprise in brining the ball out of defence and ending up in the opposition's penalty box. Walker's low ball in was deflected away from Adebayor as he closed in on it in front of goal.

Lyon were getting rattled and when a ball went wide after a cross into the box, Lisandro Lopez started having a row with Freidel that lead to the French quarter booing him every time he got the ball, but then they had done the same to Walker when he was taking corners in the first half.

While Bale got a low ball into the box late in the game, it missed both Adebayor and Holtby in the goalmouth, but when he ran towards goal down the middle of the pitch late on, Gonalons brought him down and then couldn't believe that a foul had been given five yards outside the box. Now, it is unusual for Spurs to score from free-kicks full stop. To score two in two games is rare. So, it was with no great hope that Gareth Bale ran up to fire the ball from it's place on the turf. However, the ball dipped and swerved as it did earlier in the game and Vercoutre once more started going the wrong way, deceived by the flight of the ball, as Bale out-Ronaldo'ed Ronaldo with another effort rippled the back of the net and the crowd went wild.

Two pieces of skill that had been honed on the training pitch produced a 2-1 win for Tottenham with what was the last meaningful kick of the match. In what was no means a classic performance by Spurs, but the flying winger made the difference between the two teams.

How Lyon will set up to try and negate his effectiveness in the second leg may be a crucial factor in the outcome of the tie overall, but others may benefit from that and every time Spurs are given a free kick within 30 yards of goal, the French defence will be tremulous. Because, to corrupt the now well-known Spurs song to the tune of “Bread of Heaven”, “Gareth Bale, Gareth Bale, He was born to take free-kicks !!”

Steffan Fraud


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What you thought
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Other scores during this round :
Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 0 Benfica (POR) 1 Thursday
Dynamo Kyev (RUS) 1 Bordeaux (FRA) 1 Thursday
Ajax (HOL) 2 Steaua Bucharesti (ROM) 0 Thursday
Levante (SPA) 3 Olympiakos (GRE) 0 Thursday
Napoli (ITA) 0 Plzen (CZE) 3 Thursday
Bate Borisov (BEL) 0 Fenerbahce (TUR) 0 Thursday
Sparta Prague (CZE) 0 Chelsea 1 Thursday
Anji Makhachkala (RUS) 3 Hannover 96 (GER) 1 Thursday
VfB Stuttgart (GER) 1 Genk (BEL) 1 Thursday
Atletico Madrid (SPA) 0 Rubin Kazan (RUS) 2 Thursday
FC Basel (SWI) 2 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) 0 Thursday
Borussia Moenchengladbach (GER) 3 SS Lazio (ITA) 3 Thursday
Internazionale (ITA) 2 CFG Kluj (ROM) 0 Thursday
Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS) 2 Liverpool 0 Thursday
Newcastle United 0 Metalist Kharkov (UKR) 0 Thursday



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