Tottenham Hotspur vs. Olympique Lyonnais  2 - 1

Article

Villas-Boas hails Bale class

15 February 2013 07:25

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has praised Gareth Bale for his match-winning display against Lyon on Thursday.

The Welsh attacker netted a brace of stunning free-kicks to lead his side to a 2-1 win over Lyon in the Europa League round-of-32 first leg at White Hart Lane.

Bale's efforts left Lyon goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre with no chance on both occasions, with the movement of the free-kicks too much to deal with.

Villas-Boas was delighted by Bale and also praised the equaliser scored by Samuel Umtiti, who struck a vicious half-volley into the top corner.

"It was incredible. I think not only his all-round game but his ability to strike this free-kick," the Portuguese tactician said of Bale.

"The ball gains so much power when he strikes it and it changes direction very easily. I think today we saw not only two moments of brilliance but three because their goal was absolutely fantastic.

"I think it played out to be an excellent game. Maybe the first half was a little bit more exciting. In the second half both teams struggled to keep the ball on the ground and struggled to get it moving. It was a bit sloppy.

"It was when we saw those moments of individual brilliance and Gareth was fantastic once again."

Umtiti's goal leaves Lyon with a good chance of progressing heading back to France for the return leg on February 21.

Villas-Boas said Tottenham would look to attack at the Stade de Gerland and get the away goal back.

"We are going to set up the same way – to try to attack and score," he said.

"Even if they score before (us), we are going to attack and try to cancel out this away goal, but obviously this gives them an initial advantage."

Lyon coach Remi Garde was left annoyed by the timing of Tottenham's goals as Bale struck in additional time in both halves.

"I think whether you concede from a free-kick or open play it's always the same sense of frustration," he said.

"I think what was more frustrating tonight was when both goals came, right at the death of each half. That was probably more frustrating.

"I would like to focus on the positives and the fact that Tottenham are a side that are full of goals and have been doing quite well recently.

"I think we did well in open play to basically contain what is quite a powerful attack and I think our defence played very well in that respect."

Article

Bale: Practice makes perfect

15 February 2013 06:16

Tottenham star Gareth Bale has credited plenty of training-ground practice for his two excellent free-kicks against Lyon on Thursday.

The Welshman added to the set-piece he scored against Newcastle last Sunday with two long-range efforts in the Europa League tie first leg - the first from 35 yards out in first-half injury time and the second coming with the last kick of the game.

A delightful strike from Samuel Umtiti was sandwiched between the goals, the youngster hitting the ball first-time from an acute angle, leaving Brad Friedel stranded in goal.

"I'm delighted. I've been practising free-kicks on the training ground and I scored one like that last week. Both came at good times in the game," Bale told ITV.

"Lyon are a good team and we weren't 100 percent to be honest - we looked a bit tired.

"But the most important thing is we got the win. It's going to be hard going over there, but we're taking this competition seriously."

Spurs travel to France next week with the advantage, but Umtiti's away goal leaves the tie firmly in the balance.

Article

Garde an admirer of Bale talents

14 February 2013 00:49

Lyon coach Remi Garde says he has admired Tottenham's Gareth Bale for many years and wishes he had been alerted to his ability sooner.

Garde's side travel to White Hart Lane on Thursday knowing they will have to stop the formidable Welshman if they are to get a result in the first leg of their Europa League round-of-32 clash.

The 23-year-old has plundered an impressive five goals in his previous four outings to take his tally for the season to 19 and Garde needs no reminding of the threat the former Southampton winger possess.

Former Lyon youth director, Georges Prost, informed the 46-year-old of Bale's potential during his time on the south coast where he held the same position.

"Georges Prost worked with Gareth as a youngster at Southampton," Garde revealed.

"He told me a few years ago about him, but he was about 16 at the time and he had already made his debut for Southampton. He was a young man but he was already expensive then, too expensive.

"Prost told me how quick he was then, how much skill he was blessed with even at that age, so it's not a surprise to me to see the top form Gareth has been in.

"He is the sort of player that we do need to keep an eye on tomorrow."

It will be Garde's first return back to north London since his playing career with rivals Arsenal after he signed from Strasbourg.

Garde signed alongside Gunners legend Patrick Vieira, who won three Premier League titles at Highbury, while the Lyon boss managed just 27 appearances under Arsene Wenger.

In spite of failing to make the grade at Arsenal, Garde has fond memories of his time in England and is hoping he can get one over his former rivals.

"I can't deny that when I wore the red shirt of Arsenal the matches against Spurs were important moments for me," said Garde, whose team arrive in London on the back of two defeats.

"It was important to beat Spurs and I suppose in truth those feelings are still there in my head now, even though that page in my career has turned now."

Former Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was hoping to feature against his old club, but Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas confirmed that Brad Freidel would retain his place between the posts much to Garde's regret.

"I suppose it's kind of a regret," Garde added.

"He was very much loved at Lyon. He made a big impression.

"He was a great guy so it would have been nice to have the experience of coming up against him, rather than just seeing him in the corridor."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
4 4 +5 7
5 4 +3 7
6 4 +2 7
7 4 +1 6
8 4 +1 6

Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
11 5 -4 7
12 5 +2 6
13 5 +0 6
14 5 -1 6
15 5 -2 6