Tottenham came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Basel in their Europa League quarter-final first leg at White Hart Lane but lost Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Williams Gallas to injury.
Welsh talisman Bale caught his ankle on the pitch going in awkwardly for a challenge in stoppage time at the end of an all-action encounter, and looked to be in a great deal of pain clutching his ankle as he was carried off on a stretcher.
Spurs also had Gallas forced from action near the end, while substitute Lennon had to go off in the first half just before the Swiss side tore the Londoners apart on the counter-attack.
Valentin Stocker broke the deadlock after a great move forward on the half hour before Fabian Frei doubled their advantage only five minutes later.
Emmanuel Adebayor pulled one back before the break before Gylfi Sigurdsson, on in place of Lennon, equalised with a great, deflected, distance drive.
Though Tottenham began another opening leg at home in a confident manner, in hopes of replicating their impressive White Hart Lane result in the previous round, they were found wanting at the back more than once by Basel’s crisp counters.
Though Bale and Kyle Naughton had good early chances for the hosts, it was Swiss prospect Stocker, looking dangerous playing behind and around striker Marco Streller, who broke the deadlock.
Beginning a push forward after the ball fell fortuitously from a ricochet, Stocker sent the lively Mohamed Salah free on the right to deliver a low centre to Streller.
The veteran’s turn and first touch were a treat, and though his eventual shot came back off the far post, Stocker was there to convert the rebound.
Things went from bad to worse for Andre Villas-Boas’s side as Basel made it two goals in five minutes with a completely preventable set-piece goal.
As a corner came off Jan Vertoghen at the near post, Frei escaped marker Naughton in the meantime and guided a header into the bottom corner.
To their credit, Spurs kept trying to create and pulled one back five minutes after going two down when Scott Parker’s pass-cum-shot fell into the path of Adebayor, who kept the volley down just enough to find the roof of Yann Sommer’s net.
Parker should have added a goal to his assist just two minutes later, but after Sommer denied Lewis Holtby from converting Sigurdsson’s killer ball into the box, the midfielder somehow missed an open goal from six yards out.
Naughton, looking to make amends for his role in Basel’s second, forced a dramatic late save from Sommer as his wonderful 35-yard effort curled away from the keeper.
And shortly after, the outside-the-box approach paid off for the Premier League side as Sigurdsson came inside from the left, skipping past two opponents, before unleashing a wicked drive which wrong-footed the Swiss stopper via a deflection from Fabian Schar.
All things considered, Tottenham would have been happy to just hear the final whistle and begin to plot a route to victory abroad with a number of players back in contention.
But after Gallas, who had taken his fair share of knocks throughout, finally had to withdraw just short of the regulation 90, Bale’s worrying late injury makes it a triple concern – with of course the free-scoring attacker the biggest worry of all.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Valentin Stocker (Basel): Proved an absolute handful for the rickety Spurs back line playing behind the hard-working Streller. Will be the one to watch in the second leg.
TOTTENHAM: Friedel 6, Naughton 5, Gallas 5, Vertonghen 6, Assou-Ekotto 5, Lennon 5, Parker 6, Dembélé 7, Holtby 7, Bale 6, Adebayor 6; Subs: Dawson 7, Sigurdsson 7, Dempsey 5.
BASEL: Sommer 7, Steinhöfer 7, Schär 6, Dragovic 7, Voser 5, El-Nenny 6, Serey Die 6, Salah 8, F. Frei 7, Stocker 8, Streller 8; Subs: Degen n/a, Cabral 5, Zoua 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Gareth Bale
- Aaron Lennon
- Valentin Stocker
- White Hart Lane