Bale shines for Spurs, Liverpool slump
Gareth Bale struck two magical free-kicks as Tottenham edged Lyon 2-1 in the Europa League last-32 Thursday, but Liverpool’s hopes were on a knife-edge after a 2-0 defeat at Zenit St Petersburg in Russia.
Bale beat Lyon keeper Remy Vercoutre with a dipping 35-yard free-kick on the stroke of half-time at White Hart Lane and then repeated the precision in the third minute of injury time at the end of the first leg tie.
In between, Samuel Umtiti had buried a fierce drive past Brad Friedel in the Spurs goal to keep the French side in the tie.
“I’m delighted. I’ve been practising free-kicks and I scored one like that last week,” said Bale.
In Russia, two goals in three minutes midway through the second half turned the tide in Zenit’s favour against Liverpool on a badly churned-up pitch in the country’s former Imperial capital.
That makes the home leg at Anfield an uphill struggle, but disappointed Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers tried to put a brave face on the defeat.
Big-money Brazilian signing Hulk put the Russians ahead in the 69th minute with a blistering shot from the edge of the area which just clipped Martin Skrtel to wrong-foot Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Then on 72 minutes, Sergei Semak ghosted in behind Skrtel and Glenn Johson to arrive unmarked on the left to clinically dispatch Aleksandr Anyukov’s cross from the right past Reina.