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Mousa Dembele the difference for Tottenham Hotspur in Lyon

Matthew Riding

Tottenham have qualified for the last-16 of the Europa League after beating Lyon 3-2 on aggregate.

162271009 300x225 Mousa Dembele the difference for Tottenham Hotspur in Lyon

Mousa Dembele

Leading 2-1 after the first leg, Andre Villas Boas’ Spurs side had Mousa Dembele to thank after his last minute strike ensured a meeting with Inter Milan in the next round.

Tottenham were somewhat fortuitous to come away with the victory, especially after the highly-rated Maxime Gonalons put the home side in front inside 20 minutes.

The 23-year-old who has been linked with Arsenal, got to the ball ahead of Gareth Bale and headed in at the front post to beat goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

The robust defensive midfielder who was on the verge of losing his leg in 2008 after a blister became severely infected, has impressed for Lyon this season. If the French international can maintain his fine form for the rest of the campaign, he could soon follow the likes of Michael Essien and Florent Malouda, and make the trip the across the channel to the Premier League from the Stade Gerland.

After Gonalons’ opener, Lyon – in the knowledge that a 1-0 win would be good enough to take them through on away goals – sat back and invited Spurs onto them, encouraging the likes of Gareth Bale and Emanuel Adebayor to attack, and attack they did.

After the break, Tottenham started to dominate proceedings and when Bale went close with a left-footed stab 10 yards out, the Spurs fans began to believe an equaliser was within their grasp.

Although Tottenham were enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the second half, it wasn’t all one way traffic, and Friedel had to be alert to the dangers of striker powerful forward Bafetimbi Gomis and Clement Grenier, who went close with a toe poke.

However, Spurs were looking the more likely of the two teams to score, and Clint Dempsey should have done better with 15 minutes to go, but his header failed to beat goalkeeper Rémy Vercoutre.

With Lyon fans prematurely celebrating their passage through to the last-16 and the Spurs supporters losing belief in their side by the minute, Villas Boas rallied his troops, and summer signing Dembele produced a moment of quality to beat Vercoutre.

The Belgian international collected the ball on the edge of the area and fired across Vercoutre into the bottom corner. The Spurs fans celebrated knowing that their place in the last-16 was assured.

There was no way back for Lyon and manager Remi Garde was left to rue perhaps a lack of ambition in the second half, which ultimately cost his side a place in the next round.

Spurs can look forward to an exciting match-up against their 2010/2011 Champions League group stage opponents, Inter Milan.

Bale was on top form in both of those matches two years ago, scoring a hat trick in the away tie at the San Siro. The 23-year-old will be hoping he can replicate that form in a few weeks time against the three-time Uefa Cup/Europa League champions.

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