Gareth Bale inspired Tottenham Hotspur FC to a narrow UEFA Europa League round of 32 victory over Olympique Lyonnais, two superb free-kicks giving the north London side the upper hand going into next week's decider.
Bale missed a golden opportunity before opening the scoring with a stunning set piece in first-half added time. Lyon came out firing after the break and grabbed an equaliser through Samuel Umtiti's thunderous half-volley, but Bale's second glorious free-kick denied them a share of the spoils.
Tottenham's No11 has been making the headlines for his stellar performances in recent weeks and he was again the centre of the action in the first period, failing to keep his volley down after Kyle Walker's deep cross. Steed Malbranque enjoyed a warm reception on his return to White Hart Lane and it was his corner that produced Lyon's best opportunity of the half, only for Dejan Lovren to head straight at Brad Friedel.
Bale was not out of the action for long, and when Walker broke down the right on 36 minutes and found the Welsh international with a low centre, an expectant home crowd waited for the net to bulge. However, with the goal at his mercy, the 23-year-old failed to the find the target. Bale made amends in stoppage time, giving Spurs the lead with a long-range free-kick that went over the wall and bounced before nestling in the bottom left.
Lyon were much improved after the interval and ten minutes into the second period they were level. William Gallas's headed clearance fell to Umtiti on the corner of the penalty area and the teenage left-back unleashed an unstoppable half-volley into the far corner.
The game then came to life, with Alexandre Lacazette denied by Friedel and Rémy Vercoutre repelling another Bale effort with his fists. It was seemingly headed for a draw until, with almost the last kick of the match, Bale fired another set piece past the helpless Vercoutre to earn his spurs.
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