Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bollocks, we’re out….aagh, Dembele! See you in Amsterdam!

For Spurs, the end of one European dream could mean the beginning of another. It’s a perverse fact that elimination from the Europa League presents our club with a ‘clear run’ at third/fourth place and that ‘valuable’ Champions League spot without the ‘distraction’ of the cups. Wait a beeping minute…Dembele bloody scored! Tottenham are headed to Amsterdam, baby!

Mousa Dembele’s brilliant and timely intervention gave Tottenham a merited pass into the last 16 against an uber-defensive Lyon side intent on stealing a win via a set-piece and a prolonged, rearguard action. ‘Throw your fromage in the air, throw it up like you just don’t care. And if you knocked out an ex-Gooner’s team, I wanna hear you scream. Oh yeah! Oh yeah!’

It was perhaps a bullet dodged for Andre Villas-Boas. The Portuguese has overachieved in his first league season as Spurs boss, and disproved the doubting media vultures, but his cup selections have often been as ill-judged as Nicky Minaj’s. FA Cup and League Cup progression were needlessly discarded with ill-conceived line-ups against Norwich and Leeds, and for old school fans this still rankles. Spurs are a cup team after all.

The omission of the returning Hugo Lloris set the early alarm bells ringing and deprived the former Lyon star a true hero’s welcome as well as robbing Spurs of that cat-like presence in the box. Tottenham also missed Michael Dawson’s lion-like roar at the back.

The sight of Brad Friedel rooted to his line for the Lyon opener was grimly predictable. He is the Pete Doherty of goalkeepers. The American is an excellent back-up between the sticks and admirable pro, though this felt like the wrong call if Spurs are in the competition to win it. But the AVB gamble was ultimately unpunished and Friedel’s double-fisted response to the Lyon fans at the final whistle clearly felt like a vindication, given his two alert stops in the second half.

For the most part, an unexceptional but highly-organised Lyon sat back and looked to capitalise on set-pieces. Some of the early foul awards from the German referee were generous at best including the swan dive of the paper-ankled Lisandro Lopez that led to Lyon’s opener. As soon as the home side had their noses in front, they defended en masse and started to resemble a French version of Stoke City. The presence of Lyon striker Gomis, a Kenwyne Jones lookalike, did little to disprove the comparison.

The sight of Lyon players biting the turf was commonplace. Kyle Walker brushed Umtiti’s arm and the full-back collapsed like a malnourished Gillian McKeith. Walker was yellow carded for the challenge which would constitute mild foreplay in most bedrooms across Britain. But Spurs were too often toothless and bereft of creativity in the final third. A speculative Lewis Holtby shot that hit the post was a rare, incisive moment in the opening half. Lyon were exceptionally well-drilled. If only the French had shown such resistance between 1939-45. It would have saved a lot of trouble.

A sumptuous, swinging centre from Emmanuel Adebayor presented Gareth Bale with an excellent second half opportunity but he drilled agonisingly wide. As circumstances dictated, Spurs committed greater numbers forward and pushed gamely for the equaliser. A Bale free-kick was parried and the bar was clipped as Tottenham methodically cranked up the pressure. A Lyon tumble in the box after a Friedel miscalculation and recovery was thankfully waved away by the referee. In the absence of an extra striker, Dempsey and Sigurdsson were cast into the fray, but failed to conjure an opening and the Euro-prayer beads were out.

Suddenly, the exit door loomed for Spurs. But then out of nowhere Belgian wonder Dembele cut in from distance and powered a dramatic last minute equaliser (and winner on aggregate). Bollocks, the added fixture congestion means Tottenham are now destined for fifth.

Or maybe our co-efficient in next year’s Champions League has been significantly improved :). Both adventures continue.

8 comments:

Hugo Rocha said...

"If only the French had shown such resistance between 1939-45."

Stay classy.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Sorry Hugo. A near death experience after a Kyle Walker challenge always makes me testy and suspicious. But the future of French gymnastics is in very safe hands.

Steve Silver said...

Already had my excuses ready for the Facebook onslaught.

Instead a message of "How many Gooners had their messages written with their finger hovering over the send button but had to delete" was required.

But there will be no Maicon vs Inter. Shame.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers Steve. Wonderful to see Spurs are now scoring rather than conceding late goals.

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

A good read LD.

Having quite warmed to Lyon's play at the Lane, I was a little surprised by and thoroughly fed-up with their antics well before the end last night.

Our players reactions, let alone AVB and the staff, at the end showed we really wanted to do well in this, so let's go for it.

We also owe it to the very many Spurs fans traipsing around Europe risking violence at the hands of damn they're so dumb fascist cowards.

Spurs vs Internazionale over two legs in a still important European competition. That's the essence of Spurs.



'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks IKAG. Kyle Walker called Lyon 'a bunch of Tom Daleys' which I felt was quite appropriate. Nice to see such histrionics and gamesmanship go unrewarded. Bring on Inter!

TheVodkaYeti said...

Another fun read young man!

Mind you I had to Google "Nicky Minaj", never heard of her, although I did have a hunch it was a bra-related gag, you naughty boy!

'Lust Doctor' said...

Ha ha, thanks Vodka Yeti. I can't believe you haven't heard of Miss Minaj. This blog is clearly highly educational!