I felt responsible for Young Boys disaster, admits Tottenham hero
SEBASTIEN Bassong believes that his first-half header in Berne saved Spurs Champions League dream, but concedes that it was his fault that Tottenham were three goals down at the time. The Cameroon defender replaced Ledley King...
By Ben Pearce
SEBASTIEN Bassong believes that his first-half header in Berne saved Spurs' Champions League dream, but concedes that it was his fault that Tottenham were three goals down at the time.
The Cameroon defender replaced Ledley King in the Spurs side that lost 3-2 to Young Boys in the away leg of their make-or-break play-off tie in Switzerland on Tuesday night.
Bassong was part of a rearguard that shipped three goals in the opening half an hour, and the 24-year-old was particularly culpable for the third goal, failing to spot Xavier Hochstrasser's run and allowing a simple through ball to find the scorer.
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"After the mistake I made I really wanted to be better in the game, and I think my goal came in the right moment, because after that goal we got back in the match and we played our proper game," said Bassong.
"I was really sad to make that mistake, honestly, and I still apologise for that because it was a childish mistake. It was a lack of concentration from me and after I scored the goal it was like a feeling of revenge. I really wanted that.
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"I think after our first goal the game changed because we took control of the game and we played our proper football. That's what all the people here expected from us, and that's what we did after the first goal - but the first 30 minutes was the worst in a long time.
"After the two goals we've scored away I think we feel better, after the nightmare of the start of the game. Hopefully, if we carry on like that, we've got a chance to go through, but we'll have to work hard again because this team is not going to be easy to beat, even at home. We'll see in a week."
Having spent nine months of the 2009/10 battling to finally achieve their dream of finishing in the top four, Tottenham's Champions League adventure seemed to be over before it had begun.
Harry Redknapp made four changes to the side that drew with Manchester City on Saturday, with Bassong, Wilson Palacios, Giovani Dos Santos and Roman Pavlyuchenko replacing King, Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch.
It was immediately clear that Spurs were struggling to adapt to Young Boys' Astroturf pitch as passes either zipped away off the pitch or were intercepted by the hungry hosts.
The home side quickly took advantage of Tottenham's hesitancy, and Redknapp could only watch on helplessly as Switzerland's second-ranked side raced into a 3-0 lead, taking the lead in the fourth minute and doubling their advantage nine minutes later, before piling on the misery with less than 30 minutes gone.
The Spurs boss responded by withdrawing Benoit Assou-Ekotto and moving Gareth Bale to left-back, introducing Huddlestone and shifting Luka Modric out to the left flank.
Huddlestone's arrival instantly brought the visitors better possession, but the Lilywhites were still fortunate to strike back before the break, as Bassong met Bale's corner with a thumping header.
Redknapp took further action at the interval, bringing Niko Kranjcar on for the injured Modric, and Spurs dominated the second period as they fought for a tie-turning second goal.
That hope looked forlorn as the final 10 minutes approached, and Young Boys missed two golden chances to take a 4-1 lead, with Christian Schneuwly clearing the bar on both occasions.
Seconds later the ball was in the net at the other end, as Pavlyuchenko dummied Vedran Corluka's pass and ran onto an inch-perfect pass from substitute Robbie Keane, before lashing a stunning finish into the top corner inside the near post, sparking scenes of delirious relief on the field and on the bench.
Tottenham's fightback means that a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane next Wednesday night will see them through to the group stages.
You can see the full interview with Sebastien Bassong on Spurs TV Online.