Tottenham Hotspur FC's players credited a change of tactics and the team's strength of character after Mousa Dembélé's late strike earned them a 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyonnais and a 3-2 aggregate win. "We keep believing right up until the end," said centre-back William Gallas, who is also relishing a UEFA Europa League last-16 reunion with FC Internazionale Milano, whom Tottenham faced in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League. Lyon forward Bafétimbi Gomis described his side as "disappointed but not despondent", meanwhile, after the French club came so close.
William Gallas, Tottenham defender
We got the goal we needed at the right moment, and that was enough for us to qualify for the next round, even if we didn't play very well. [Our belief] is maybe what makes Spurs strong, or maybe it's just the English mentality. We keep believing right up until the end, and we were able to show that tonight.
At half-time, we said we had to change tactics. We changed to 4-4-2 and tried to have a little more depth to our game. The manager told us to keep believing and that one goal would put us through. That's what we did. We pressed them more in the second half and they tried to play more on the break. We defended well and got the goal we wanted.
We played a match against Inter at San Siro [in October 2010] which we lost, but it's a place we like a lot because when we played there against AC Milan [in February 2011], we were able to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals. We know the pitch and the fans well. We're happy to be going there and we'll head out there to get a result.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tottenham midfielder
It was fantastic to get that late goal, especially away from home, so credit to the team for keeping going. We didn't have many minutes left on the clock. We've been working on [finishing strongly] since the start of the season. We've conceded a few late goals and now we've turned it around and we're scoring a lot of late goals, so that's a positive thing.
We were too passive in the first half and they were dominant. They got the goal, so there was something to play for. We changed a few things in the second half and it worked. We knew we needed to get a goal so we were a bit more attacking in the second half. We had nothing to lose because we were out of the competition at 1-0. We just changed our mindset to go for it and play attacking football.
It will be a fantastic tie and Inter are a big club.
We're at the stage of the competition now where there are big and great clubs left. Going to San Siro will be fantastic and hopefully we can get a great result away from home.
Bafétimbi Gomis, Lyon forward
We hoped for a better outcome and we came so close to going through. I think we paid for the free-kick we conceded in the dying moments of the first leg.
We played exactly the first half that we needed to and got a goal, but given the talented players we were up against, the match went all the way to the end. Their individual quality made the difference.
That said, we can tell ourselves that we were able to take on one of the biggest teams in the Premier League. Now we have to focus on our goal of qualifying for the Champions League. We're disappointed but not despondent because once again you saw a Lyon team that really went for it, unlike at the start of the year. We just lack a little fluidity in our play.
Clément Grenier, Lyon midfielder
It's cruel because overall we played a good game, both offensively and defensively. We were very solid and united, but unfortunately we conceded this goal right at the end. That's football. We were able to bring a little extra something to the match, and then we dropped back because we were under pressure.
We didn't give away many chances, other than [Lewis Holtby's] shot against the post at the end of the first half and [Gareth] Bale's attempt at the start of the second.
I stayed close to Dembélé's left foot the whole game, but then I saw him push the ball ahead of himself and I wasn't able to intercept it. He followed up with a great shot.
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