Spurs stage stunning comeback to eliminate Dnipro in Europa League
22:04 27 February 2014
Europa League last 32: Tottenham 3 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1 (3-2 on aggregate)
Tottenham launched a stunning second-half comeback to overturn a two-goal deficit against 10-man Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and advance to the last 16 of the Europa League.
Juande Ramos’ Dnipro led 1-0 from the first leg in Ukraine and they scored an away goal just after the interval at White Hart Lane tonight.
That left Spurs needing to score three times to progress – and they did exactly that in a spectacular 13-minute blitz.
Christian Eriksen started the fightback with a 56th-minute free-kick and Dnipro were then reduced to 10 men as their goalscorer Roman Zozulya was shown a straight red card for butting Jan Vertonghen.
With the momentum and a numerical advantage, Spurs went on to score twice in the space of four minutes, with Emmanuel Adebayor netting both goals to send the Lilywhites through and book a last-16 tie with Benfica.
Having previously lost all three of his cup games in charge and needing to overturn a deficit tonight, Tim Sherwood picked a strong side including Hugo Lloris and Adebayor.
The head coach was also able to select Sandro for the first time as the Brazilian midfielder returned from a lengthy calf injury which he sustained in Andre Villas-Boas’ last game in charge in December.
However, Kyle Naughton and Zeki Fryers were needed to deputise for the injured first-choice full-backs, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.
Dnipro were always likely to defend their lead and look to hit Spurs on the counter-attack, as they had done in Ukraine – and they were tough to break down in the first half.
Tottenham’s 4-4-2 system meant they only had two options in the centre of midfield, and they were well marked, forcing the home side’s defenders to go long on countless occasions.
It took more than 25 minutes for Spurs to register a shot on target as Eriksen whipped a free-kick over the wall and towards the bottom left corner, but it was a comfortable save for Denys Boyko.
Dnipro were presenting a threat of their own with their pace, though, with Yevhen Konoplyanka looked lively on the left-hand side.
Moments after Eriksen’s free-kick, Ivan Strinic got inside Naughton to latch onto a ball over the top, forcing Vertonghen to come across and last-ditch intervention.
Shortly afterwards, Matheus beat Michael Dawson to a chipped pass and brought the ball down in the box, but he stumbled at the crucial moment.
Tottenham, who said an emotional goodbye to Jermain Defoe during the half-time interval, had a big second half ahead of them. But, like in the previous game at Norwich on Sunday, they conceded right after half-time as Zozulya headed home from an inswinging free-kick.
Spurs now needed three goals – and they nearly got one in the 53rd minute as Eriksen played Roberto Soldado in on goal. The Spaniard finished first-time but saw his strike correctly ruled out for offside.
Moments later the Lilywhites struck again, and this time it counted as Eriksen scored from a free-kick, with Boyko getting hands to the ball but failing to keep it out.
Back came Dnipro, with Konoplyanka hitting the post with a curling 25-yard effort. However, the match then took another twist as Zozulya was shown a straight red card for butting Vertonghen, who went down theatrically.
The Belgian may well claim that the ends justify the means, because Spurs immediately struck again in the 65th minute, with Eriksen delivering an inch-perfect inswinging cross from the left and Adebayor sliding in to finish six yards out.
With the crowd roaring them on, the hosts completed their comeback four minutes later as Fryers played a long ball up to Adebayor, who chested the ball past his marker and then flicked it past the advancing goalkeeper.
There were nerves late on as Dnipro substitute Yevhen Seleznyov forced a save from Lloris at his near post – and the Frenchman also had to fend away a 93rd-minute free-kick from Konoplyanka, but Spurs held on to extend their European campaign.
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Fryers, Townsend (Lennon 84), Sandro (Bentaleb 76), Dembele, Eriksen, Soldado (Kane 88), Adebayor.
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