Monday 23 April 2018

AVB: Inter games will be special nights for Spurs

Paul Hirst

ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS set his sights on creating another special Tottenham night against Inter Milan after watching his team grab a dramatic equaliser to move into the last 16 of the Europa League.

Tottenham looked set to crash out of the competition after a dreadful first-half performance which saw Lyon take the lead through Maxine Gonalons.

Despite a period of sustained pressure, Lyon could not break through Tottenham's back line in the second half, however, but Spurs did themselves no favours by performing poorly up front themselves.

Gareth Bale, matchwinner in the 2-1 first leg win, missed a sitter in the second half, but Mousa Dembele saved the Welshman's blushes with a brilliant last minute strike from 25 yards.

Spurs will now face Inter Milan - the team against which Bale pulled out two career-defining performances two seasons ago - in the third round next month. Bale scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 loss at the San Siro in 2010, and then embarrassed Maicon with a stunning display in the opposing fixture.

"We had two magnificent games against Inter and we just want to recreate a special night that everyone remembers at the club," the Tottenham manager said.

"Going through against Inter Milan and Lyon puts you in a good place to win the competition."

Lyon fans will find it hard to believe that it is not they who are facing the Italian giants in the next round.

Tottenham could barely string a pass together in the first half, with Dembele, Scott Parker and Kyle Walker all guilty of poor performances.

Bale also made a mistake in turning his back to Gonalons, allowing the Frenchman to convert Clement Grenier's cross in the 16th minute.

"We didn't play well in the first half," Villas-Boas conceded.

"In the second half we were the better team. We created some chances and we were rewarded with the second goal in the end. "Individual players make a difference and Mousa certainly made the difference tonight."

Dembele's strike, which came after he glided past Grenier and beat Remy Vercoutre with a long-range missile, clearly delighted Villas-Boas who jumped for joy when the ball hit the back of the net.

"It was good," he said. "When you score in the last minute, there are all sorts of emotions going through you, especially with a goal that brings you into the next round.

"We want to continue setting the example in this competition. Everyone is buzzing to continue in this competition which is why we reacted so fully, so joyfully in the end.

"If you count the number of opportunities Lyon had in both legs it would have been unfair for them to go through."

Tottenham fans also reacted with joy at the goal, which came after a difficult week for travelling supporters of the club.

Three away fans had to be taken to hospital last night after an attack by 50 masked thugs, apparently making anti-Semitic salutes, on a pub where they were drinking.

Their delight tonight will no doubt have been enhanced by the fact that they defied the odds to overcome a team managed by a former Arsenal player in Remi Garde.

"It's definitely something hard to swallow," Garde said.

"It was close. They are a top English team but I have seen some good things tonight.

"I felt we were very close but we had difficulty playing in their half. We didn't create too many chances."

Press Association

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