Dembele strikes late as Spurs advance
A 90th-minute strike by Mousa Dembele took Tottenham Hotspur through to the last 16 of the Europa League at Lyon's expense on Thursday as the second leg of their tie ended in a 1-1 draw at the Stade de Gerland.
Just like in last week's first leg, the English club netted at the death to douse the hopes of their French opponents, as Spurs followed up their 2-1 win a week ago to advance 3-2 on aggregate.
Gareth Bale's brilliant stoppage-time free-kick had earned Tottenham victory in the first leg, and here Dembele delivered a decisive blow in the final minute, stepping away from Clement Grenier and firing across Remy Vercoutre and into the far corner with a vicious left-footed strike.
Lyon, who had led for much of the game through Maxime Gonalons' headed opener, were left completely deflated by that blow, as Spurs march on to a last-16 tie against Inter Milan.
"If you look at the number of chances Lyon had over the two legs it would not have been fair if they had gone through," insisted Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas.
"We didn't play well in the first half, but in the second half we were the better team, created chances, and were rewarded with the goal in the end."
The North London side probably did deserve to progress, but they were also fortunate when German referee Wolfgang Stark waved away strong Lyon claims for a penalty in the second half after Brad Friedel appeared to bring down Alexandre Lacazette inside the area.
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"We were close to eliminating a top English side, so it is hard to swallow," said Lyon coach Remi Garde.
"But I saw lots of positive things over the two legs."
Tottenham arrived in France having not played since last week's first leg, and their freshness was combined with a confidence brought from their run of 10 games without defeat in the Premier League.
Lyon, meanwhile, have managed to keep pace with Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Ligue 1, but Garde's side are not as fearsome an outfit as the one that dominated domestically throughout the last decade.
Despite that, they were clearly up for this game and probably should have taken the lead in the 10th minute, when Lacazette contrived to head weakly at Friedel while unmarked and just six yards from goal.
However, Friedel, who was again preferred between the posts to former Lyon custodian Hugo Lloris, had to pick the ball out of his net soon after, when Bale was guilty of allowing Gonalons to head in Grenier's free-kick from the left flank.
Tottenham were now forced to do the chasing with Lyon leading on away goals, but they might have scored just before the interval when Lewis Holtby, the January signing from Schalke, saw his low snap-shot from just outside the box turned on to the post by Vercoutre.
And they threatened again shortly after the restart, as Bale fired inches wide from an Emmanuel Adebayor cross at the end of a rapid breakaway.
The Welshman then saw one of his trademark dipping free-kicks boxed away by the Lyon 'keeper from 30 yards and was also denied when he tried his luck with a speculative long-range strike.
In between times, Adebayor saw an overhead effort – probably intended as a cross – strike the top of the bar, but while the visitors monopolised possession, they were lucky not to concede again just before the hour mark.
Friedel had saved from the impressive Grenier before appearing to bring down Lacazette inside the area after making a hash of a clearance.
Stark waved away the Lyon appeals, and they were left feeling very hard done by as Dembele sent them packing from the competition at the death.