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Spurs stunt Young Boys' early flourish

BSC Young Boys 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur FC
Two away goals salvaged Spurs's hopes of advancing to the group stage after the hosts had raced into a 3-0 lead inside 28 minutes.

Spurs stunt Young Boys' early flourish
Spurs stunt Young Boys' early flourish ©UEFA.com

BSC Young Boys earned a narrow 3-2 advantage in their League Route play-off first leg against Tottenham Hotspur FC but may rue the concession of two away goals.

After sending Berne's Stade de Suisse into raptures with first-half strikes by Senad Lulić, Henri Bienvenu and Xavier Hochstrasser, Young Boys were pegged back by goals either side of the interval from Sébastien Bassong and Roman Pavlyuchenko.

The circus was in town yet in the high-wire act of UEFA Champions League qualification, the visitors suffered the initial attack of nerves. Vladimir Petković's charges, making light of a slow start to their domestic campaign, were ahead within four minutes.

Lulić had already rattled Heurelho Gomes's post when the same player broke the deadlock for last season's Swiss top-flight runners-up. After Thierry Doubai fired in a shot that struck first the back of team-mate Ammar Jemal, then Bassong, the ball fell for midfielder Lulić to slot past Gomes.

Although their goalkeeper Marco Wölfli had to save from Giovani dos Santos, Young Boys quickly strode further in front. The architect, Doubai, had set up Bienvenu for the solitary goal away to Fenerbahçe SK that brought victory in Istanbul and a 3-2 aggregate success in the third qualifying round. Now the pair repeated the trick.

Doubai intercepted the ball in his own half, sped into opposition territory and threaded through a pass that invited lone forward Bienvenu to advance and score. Spurs responded with defender Christoph Spycher having to stop Jermain Defoe turning in Pavlyuchenko's cross, yet Hochstrasser might also have done better from a Lulić centre. Hochstrasser made amends, though, the midfielder chasing on to Switzerland playmaker Moreno Costanzo's pass to finish beyond Gomes.

Young Boys were men possessed. By contrast, Harry Redknapp's team, fourth in last season's Premier League, were foundering. The north Londoners were thrown a lifeline near half-time, though, when Bassong powered in a header from Gareth Bale's corner.

Spurs, with Niko Kranjčar replacing Luka Modrić at the break and Robbie Keane a later introduction, threatened a second. The stretching Pavlyuchenko lifted Bale's cross centimetres over. Bienvenu did the same with a free header, though now it was YB treading the fine line. Wölfli tipped over from Pavlyuchenko while, on the counterattack, Marco Schneuwly spurned the hosts' two outstanding second-half chances.

In a potentially decisive late twist, Tottenham's Russian international showed Schneuwly how with a devastating finish after racing on to Keane's pass.