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Holtby: Bale up there with the best

Published: Friday 15 February 2013, 8.01CET
Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder Lewis Holtby sang Gareth Bale's praises after a match-winning display, while Olympique Lyonnais' Gueïda Fofana felt his side deserved more.
by Josh Hershman
from White Hart Lane

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Published: Friday 15 February 2013, 8.01CET

Holtby: Bale up there with the best

Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder Lewis Holtby sang Gareth Bale's praises after a match-winning display, while Olympique Lyonnais' Gueïda Fofana felt his side deserved more.

Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder Lewis Holtby led the plaudits for Gareth Bale after the Welsh international scored two superb free-kicks to give his side a 2-1 round of 32 first-leg advantage over Olympique Lyonnais. Defender Jan Vertonghen echoed his team-mate's sentiments but Lyon duo Gueïda Fofana and Bafétimbi Gomis were left disappointed after an impressive second-half display ended in last-gasp defeat.

Bale is very confident and good on the ball and he's got one hell of a left foot
Lewis Holtby, Tottenham midfielder
I don't think Tottenham deserved to win and the least we should have left with was a draw
Gueïda Fofana, Lyon defender

Lewis Holtby, Tottenham midfielder
It was a very nerve-wracking game with brilliant goals from both sides. [Gareth] Bale did it again with his free-kicks but it was not easy to play against a Lyon side who defended well. Bale is very confident and good on the ball and he's got one hell of a left foot. He's a fantastic player and a hard-worker. He's physically and mentally very strong as well and he just loves the game, that's what makes him so good. He keeps scoring for us week in, week out – he's a fantastic player. I've played with some very good players, such as Raúl and Huntelaar, but I think Gareth is one of the best. He's one of the top three players I've played with.

Of course we can win it. We've got the team and the quality to go all the way to the final but there's still a long way to go. Lyon away will be a very tough game. Lyon were defensively strong. They got men behind the ball and defended very well. A 2-1 lead going to Lyon is a massive boost and we are confident enough to believe that we will go through.

Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham defender
We had a very good first half and we dominated the game. In the second half they started better and scored an unbelievable goal but in the end we have to be happy because we scored in extra time. Bale is probably in the best form of his life. He's scored our last six goals as a winger, that's unbelievable. I'm glad I'm playing with him and not against him.

They pressed us a little bit more in the second half. They are a very strong and experienced team and they know where they can hurt us. We tried to keep a clean sheet because we know that an away goal in Europe is very important, but we won and that is the most important thing. We will be fresh for the second leg because we don't have a game this weekend and we want to do something in Europe so I hope we go through.

Gueïda Fofana, Lyon defender
There was a lot of disappointment at the end of the match. I don't think Tottenham deserved to win and the least we should have left with was a draw. We defended very well and we played very well. If we can negotiate the game next week like we did the second half here, we can qualify. We were keen to bring our spirit and discipline back into our game and that's what we did this evening. Both teams would have been happy with a draw but even though we're disappointed, we played really well.

Sam [Umtiti]'s goal did us a lot of good and we have every chance in the return leg at home. We have to play a great match and avoid conceding free-kicks, especially against Gareth Bale. We didn't see that much of him in the match but that's the mark of a great player – scoring from free-kicks like that.

Bafétimbi Gomis, Lyon forward
It's not easy to take, losing to a free-kick like that, but that's part of football. We played a great match though, and raised our spirits again, which is good. I think the return game will be very open, anything will be possible. [Tottenham] are a great team, they're high up in the table in England, so we weren't surprised by them. They have a lot of very good players and a good coach. It was a great match so we'll see what happens in the return.

Last updated: 16/02/13 0.10CET

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