All it took Tottenham Hotspur to start playing – and to save their season – was a quick look into the abyss.
Spurs started this game poorly and when Roman Zozulya headed Dnipro 1-0 up early in the second half, Tottenham needed to score three goals to stay in the Europa League. But that is precisely what they did.
The desperation turned Spurs into a whole new team, who ran through Dnipro with three goals in 13 minutes, the first from Christian Eriksen, then two from Emmanuel Adebayor.
It was Spurs' best spell of football this year, enough to win and to warrant their last-16 match with Benfica. Why it took Tottenham 146 minutes of this tie to start playing is just another of this side's elusive mysteries.
The long maze of the Europa League, into which Andre Villas-Boas invested so much, might have looked a better bet than making up ground on Liverpool for fourth place in the Premier League. So Sherwood went for it.
Roberto Soldado was brought in to partner Emmanuel Adebayor, Sherwood reverting to the 4-4-2 system which brought him early success. Eriksen came back, too, as did Sandro.
However, Dnipro were strong and canny enough in defence and midfield to hold on to their first-leg lead and the only time Spurs looked even mildly dangerous in the first half was from Eriksen's 35-yard free-kick.
Three minutes after the restart Ruslan Rotan swung in a long, looping free-kick from the left. Zozulya read it better than Vertonghen, darting in and nodding into the roof of the net.
Tottenham needed three goals now and, on the evidence of the first half, did not look like getting them, but this was Spurs' season at stake and they finally, thrillingly started to play. Eriksen slid through to Soldado, whose finish was ruled out for offside. But they had woken up.
Eriksen, 20 yards out and to the left, curled a free-kick with his right foot into the near bottom corner. Spurs still needed two, but Dnipro were dangerous, Yevhen Konoplyanka hitting the post from 30 yards. They could not cope with the pressure, though, and when Zozulya was sent off after moving his head towards Vertonghen, who collapsed dramatically, their evening was over.
Two minutes later, Adebayor (left) scored the second, pouncing from close range on Eriksen's perfect curled cross from the right.
The third goal felt inevitable. It came just four minutes later.
Adebayor can make the remarkable look simple and he flicked Zeki Fryers' long ball over Cheberyacho before lifting his finish over the advancing goalkeeper. (© Independent News Service)