Tottenham came back from two goals down against Basel at White Hart Lane to keep their hopes alive of making the last four of the Europa League.
The impressive Swiss champions scored twice in five minutes around the half-hour mark through Valentin Stocker and Fabian Frei before Emmanuel Adebayor pulled one back for the hosts before the break. Gyfli Sigurdsson’s second-half strike gives Spurs hope, but their chances for the second leg of the quarterfinal next week, and potentially of qualifying for the Champions League, could be severely impacted depending on the seriousness of an ankle injury that forced Gareth Bale off in the closing stages.
Basel, an experienced side in Europe in recent years, and conquerors of Manchester United in the Champions League last season, began the match brightly and deservedly grabbed the lead after 30 minutes.
Tottehnam’s defending led plenty to be desired as several half-hearted challenges and interceptions enabled the ball to be crossed in low for Marco Streller. The striker was allowed to turn and hit a shot that came back off the post and was eventually side-footed into the net by Valentin Stocker.
And things quickly got worse for the home side. From a right-wing corner, Tottenham’s defending was again desperately poor as several players stood around in the box and, after Jan Vertonghen got an inadvertent flick on at the near post, Frei found himself in an unfathomable amount of space 10 yards from goal and directed a good header into the bottom corner.
Stocker soon missed a good chance to make it 3-0 before just seconds later Tottenham made the visitors pay. It was a scrappy goal as Adebayor completely mishit a shot before Scott Parker’s effort deflected back into his path and the striker volleyed the ball home from six yards.
In the 58th minute, Tottenham pulled level again with the help of considerable fortune. Sigurdsson cut in from the left and let fly with a right-footed shot that took a decisive deflection to take it past Yann Sommer in the Basel goal.
Any positivity from that fight back, though, will be somewhat eroded by several fitness concerns. Tottenham ended the match with just nine men as, after losing Aaron Lennon to injury in the first half, William Gallas and then Gareth Bale were forced off late on.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.