Football: If this match was Andre Villas-Boas's litmus test to see whether his Spurs side can cope with playing in the Champions League, his players just about passed.
Before this Europa League last-32 encounter, the Portuguese manager said that facing Lyon, a club who reached the last four of European football's elite competition just four years ago, would give him an indicator of his team's readiness to muck it with the best.
His logic was not without its flaws, given that Lyon are not quite the force they once were. The club from central-eastern France are battling financial problems and, though currently second in Ligue 1 — six points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain — qualification for the Champions League surely remains their priority.
More worryingly then for Spurs that they lived dangerously for large swathes of the second half in this close encounter. However with the match seemingly heading for a draw, up popped a familiar saviour, with Gareth Bale scoring his second free kick of the night deep into injury time to continue his incredible scoring run and give Tottenham a slight advantage heading into next week's second leg.
Make that seven goals in five games for the Welshman for club and country. His winner sparked angry exchanges between the benches with one of the Lyon coaches apparently unhappy with the celebration of Tottenham assistant coach Steffen Freund.
The spat was a minor footnote though, especially for Tottenham, who came under pressure after the visitors had equalised through an astonishing effort from Cameroonian full-back Samuel Umtiti. Bale had earlier given Tottenham the lead on the stroke of half-time with yet another free kick, this one from a good 35 yards.
His shooting prowess was all the more crucial, given that Tottenham's other forwards struggled to make an impact. Emmanuel Adebayor, making his first start in over a month, was poor, spurning the one real chance that came his way, while Clint Dempsey and Aaron Lennon were also ineffective, both being replaced in the later stages of the second half, by Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
While Tottenham are no one-man team as their more fatuous detractors may claim, they are certainly becoming dependent on a couple of players for goals in the absence of the injured Jermain Defoe. Not since New Year's Day has anyone other than Bale or Dempsey scored for the north London club.
Nonetheless the home side started the match brightly, seeking to take an early advantage just as they did in last Saturday's league victory over Newcastle. However they were unable to translate the early pressure they applied into clear-cut chances and it was Lyon who felt they should have had a chance to take the lead midway through the first half when Bafetimbi Gomi appeared to be felled the area by Jan Vertonghen.
The referee had a long look at the incident, but waved away the appeals, perhaps mindful of the manner in which Gomi fell to ground a good second after contact had been made.
Moments later Adebayor found himself clear on goal, owing to a beautiful through ball from Moussa Dembele, but he rather snatched at his effort and the ball sailed a couple of yards wide.
On 37 minutes, Tottenham had a golden chance to take the lead. Kyle Walker made a foray down the right flank and outwitted Lyon full-back Umtiti, albeit with the help of a lucky deflection. The Englishman's low cross fizzed across the Lyon area and came to Bale on the opposite side. The Welshman looked odds on to score, but made a poor connection with the ball and his shot went wide. It was kept in play by Adebayor, but the chance had passed.
Lyon remained a threat, however, with Gomis — with a figure more like a heavyweight boxer than a footballer — looking most likely to score for the visitors. The stocky France international had already muscled Scott Parker off the ball with ease, no mean feat in itself, and shortly before half-time he ghosted to the edge of the Spurs area before firing a couple of yards wide.
Nonetheless it was Tottenham who went in at half-time leading, from an predictable though brilliant source. Alexandre Lacazette fouled Dembele 35 yards from the Lyon goal. It was inevitable that Bale would step up and, on his current form, it seemed almost inevitable that he would score.
The Welshman exhibited shades of Cristiano Ronaldo in his stance and technique as he pinged the ball over the visiting wall and back down again so that it bounced just in front of the goalline, giving keeper Remy Vercoutre no chance.
Lyon came out for the second half with renewed resolve and soon found themselves level via an absolute thunderbolt from Umtiti.
William Gallas, who came into the Spurs starting line-up in one of five changes made my Villas-Boas, repelled a dangerous cross to the diagonal point of the Spurs penalty area. His clearing header landed invitingly for Umtiti who, rather than take a touch or cross the ball back into the area, hit the ball on the half volley, firing it like an arrow into the opposite top corner of Brad Friedel's goal. The Lyon bench rose in celebration, realising they had just witnessed something truly special, while the rest of White Hart Lane, save for the contingent of French fans, sat in silence.
Lyon nearly scored another wonder goal six minutes later when Lacazette slalomed his way through what seemed like the entire Spurs defence before seeing his sweetly hit strike tipped over the bar by Friedel.
Tottenham were in danger of being overrun, but they began to reassert themselves, while Bale kept their interest up at the business end of the pitch by forcing a clumsy parry from Vercoutre with a shot from the edge of the area.
Lyon looked good value to hold on, but Bale had other ideas, the in-form star first winning a free kick for an infringement on him by Maxime Gonalons before he struck an unstoppable effort beyond Vercoutre.
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