DAVID SMITH - Friday, February 22, 2013
Clint Dempsey and Tottenham advanced to the final 16 of the Europa League in dramatic fashion, sinking Lyon in the final seconds of regulation on Thursday in the Stade de Gerland.
Olympique Lyonnais - Tottenham Hotspur (agg. 2-3)
Clint Dempsey's former Fulham teammate Moussa Dembele played the hero in France, snatching the aggregate win for Tottenham from the jaws of defeat with a last-second goal against Olympique Lyonnais.
Brad Friedel started in Tottenham's goal for head coach Andres Villas-Boas, while Dempsey was given a rest and played the final half-hour as a second-half substitute.
Spurs came to Lyon carrying a narrow 2-1 aggregate lead, which needed only 17 minutes to disappear off the head of team captain Maxime Gonalons.
Clément Grenier delivered a low free kick from the left flank to the near post, and Gonalons dipped down to send his header just inside the left post out of Friedel's reach.
The visitors looked lifeless and out of ideas for the entire first half, with usual attacking force Gareth Bale and frontman Emmanuel Adebayor struggling to gain a foothold.
The team slowly improved throughout the second half, and a series of close chances by Bale, Benoît Assou-Ekotto and Dempsey following his introduction kept the hosts on their toes.
With the clock winding down towards what looked to be a frustrating elimination based on away goals, Dembele's heroics kept them in the competition in the final minute of regulation. The Belgian attacker maintained possession just outside the penalty area, and hit a long, low shot to the lower left corner, that rolled over the line.
The result sees Spurs through to the round of 16 on a 3-2 aggregate scoreline, where they will face fallen Italian giants Inter Milan over two legs.
David Yelldell was not in uniform for Leverkusen, who lost 2-1 at Benfica, and were eliminated from the knockout round by a 3-1 aggregate.
Steve Cherundolo is recovering from knee surgery, did not take part in Hannover's 1-1 draw at home with Anzhi Makhachkala, which knocked the Germans out based on a 4-2 aggregate score.