Newcastle ... What Could Have Been ...

Last updated : 12 April 2013 By Footy Mad - Editor



Tottenham's rollercoaster ride in the Europa League came to a dramatic end as they suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak in Basle.
Clint Dempsey put Spurs ahead, before Mohamed Salah and Aleksandr Dragovic scored to put Basle on course for victory.

Dempsey took the tie to extra-time with just eight minutes of normal time remaining - but Tottenham's task was then made much harder by the injury-time dismissal of Jan Vertonghen.

Basle threw everything at the Londoners in extra-time, but they could not find a way through and the game went to penalties.

Tottenham had not won a penalty shoot-out since 1994 - and it showed.

Tom Huddlestone and Emmanuel Adebayor both missed from the spot while Basle converted all four of their efforts to send Andre Villas-Boas' team crashing out of the competition.

Despite their hard work tonight on a ground where Bayern Munich and Manchester United were defeated last year, a dramatic run that has included red cards, an off the pitch stabbing, racist chanting, and two last-gasp wins, has now ended.

Villas-Boas can be proud of his squad's endeavours - but they would have not been in this situation tonight had they wilted so pitifully in last week's first leg.

It also remains to be seen whether the Portuguese's policy of playing his best players in the search of his second European trophy in three seasons has been a wise one with Tottenham's patched-up squad currently faltering in the home straight in the league.

The hosts were much more effective on the attack in the sold-out stadium on the banks of the Rhine.

Brad Friedel watched nervously as Fabian Schar's free-kick drifted just wide and Salah then found space in the box but shot over.

Basle dropped deep in an attempt to keep Spurs' attack at bay. It would take something special to breach their two rigid banks of four, and that was exactly what Jan Vertonghen produced in the 23rd minute.

The Belgian sliced open the Basle defence with a pass that left Dragovic flat on his backside and Dempsey rounded the goalkeeper before slotting in to an empty net.

Villas-Boas jumped for joy - but he was soon cursing his luck after Mousa Dembele's error allowed Basle to level.

Mohamed El-Nenny intercepted a sloppy pass from the midfielder and worked the ball out wide to Marco Streller, who cut open the Spurs defence to find Salah - who poked the ball past Friedel.

A series of flares went off in the home end and the away side went in to panic mode, giving the ball away easily.

Michael Dawson saved Tottenham's skin twice with goal-saving challenges on Salah and Streller.

Tottenham offered little at the other end and they trudged off the sodden pitch at half-time angry at having yielded the lead.

Spurs started the second half more lively, with Adebayor testing goalkeeper Yann Sommer, but Basle raced up the other end and won a corner thanks to Friedel's hesitancy in dealing with Streller.

And Tottenham were made to pay from the resulting flag-kick as Friedel palmed Schar's header straight to Dragovic, who smashed in from close range.

Dragovic came within inches of giving Basle a two-goal cushion just before the hour, before Villas-Boas ended Dembele's dismal night, replacing him with Tom Carroll.

With 17 minutes left Sommer saved well from Dawson's header, but Basle still looked as if they would hold on.

That changed in the 83rd minute, however, when substitute Huddlestone delivered a well-crafted chip that Dempsey drilled under Sommer.

Vertonghen made life tougher for his team when he tripped Streller as he ran through in the 90th minute and received a straight red card.

Dawson, lucky to escape a booking earlier in the match, saw yellow for a foul on Dragovic and tempers flared - with Streller and Walker going head to head just outside the box.

Basle dominated the first half of extra-time, with El-Nenny rattling the woodwork from 30 yards and Marcelo Diaz curling wide.

Dawson put his body on the line yet again as Basle piled forward, blocking Alexander Frei's shot with eight minutes of extra-time left.

Spurs held on for penalties - but Huddlestone missed Tottenham's first spot-kick to give Basle the advantage and Adebayor then skied Spurs' third while Schar, Streller and Fabian Frei all scored.

Diaz was left with the chance to clinch victory and he made no mistake, firing home to Friedel's left.



Fernando Torres' Europa League hot streak continued as Chelsea advanced to the semi-finals despite defeat in their quarter-final second leg with Rubin Kazan at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Torres, who scored twice in the 3-1 first-leg win, struck his 19th of the season after four minutes, but thereafter Chelsea endured a difficult evening on the synthetic surface.

Three goals in 13 second-half minutes, two of them for Rubin, had Chelsea worried, as Ivan Marcano and Gokdeniz Karadeniz scored headers either side of Victor Moses' curled effort.

Bebras Natcho's 75th-minute penalty led to an anxious conclusion, but Chelsea held on to advance to tomorrow's semi-final draw.

Rubin had already eliminated 2012 Europa League winners Atletico Madrid and they were seeking to add the Champions League holders to their list of conquests, but Chelsea did just enough in their 58th game of the season.

Manchester City are next for the Blues in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final and there will be changes for Wembley, where an improvement is required if the Londoners are to continue their trophy defence.

Chelsea captain John Terry was far from his best on a collectively shaky defensive display against inspired opponents in their temporary home, but it was an altogether unconvincing display from the visitors.

The second leg was moved to the Russian capital because of freezing temperatures in Rubin's home region of Tartarstan.

Chelsea would have been grateful for a shorter journey even though the Luzhniki Stadium holds painful memories.

It was the Blues' second visit to the venue since their Champions League final penalty shootout defeat to Manchester United in 2008 and their October 2010 defeat of Spartak Moscow.

The location made for a surreal atmosphere in a third-full stadium, with many of those watching Russian Chelsea fans.

Nathan Ake made his second senior start as one of seven changes from the Sunderland win, while Paulo Ferreira, who required treatment in the opening skirmishes, featured at left-back due to the absences of Ashley Cole (hamstring) and Ryan Bertrand (illness).

Ake's inclusion in defensive midfield alongside Ramires allowed Frank Lampard to play behind Torres as one of Chelsea's three attacking midfielders.

It was Lampard's first-time lofted through ball which sent Torres clear with the Blues' first attack and the Spaniard showed the finishing instinct which has so often been lacking during his spell at Stamford Bridge since his £50million transfer from Liverpool.

Torres' first touch saw him lift the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov for it to bounce once and go into the net.

The goal meant Rubin needed three to force extra-time, but it was Chelsea who almost went further in front soon after.

A mistake by Oleg Kuzmin allowed Moses, who also scored in the first leg, through, but he shot tamely at Ryzhikov.

Chelsea were prepared to sit and play on the counter-attack, with Ake and Ramires effective at breaking up play as Rubin went forward.

On the few occasions when the defence was breached, Rubin failed to trouble Petr Cech in goal.

Jose Rondon flashed a shot wide and a tricky run by Alan Kasaev led to a shot by Roman Eremenko, which deflected off Ake, but Cech, wearing leggings to guard against the cold and synthetic surface, saved to his left.

Cech had to be alert as the first half came to a close when Bebras Natcho's lofted pass found the darting run of captain Karadeniz, whose shot was well-saved by the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Rubin equalised six minutes into the second half when Pablo Orbaiz's cross was met by Marcano, who rose above Ramires to direct a powerful header into the net.

Fortunately for Chelsea their response was almost immediate.

Ramires won the ball from Orbaiz and laid it off to Lampard, who found Moses.

The Nigeria international played a one-two with Ramires and curled a shot into the top corner.

Rubin would not buckle, though, and continued to press forward.

Cristian Ansaldi took Cesar Azpilicueta to the byline and crossed for the late-running Karadeniz, the smallest player on the pitch, to power a header beyond Cech.

Marcano struck the outside of the post with a header from another Ansaldi cross as Rubin again demonstrated Chelsea's defensive fallibility.

Azpilicueta fouled Aleksandr Ryazantsev to grant Rubin a second penalty of the tie, which, like at Stamford Bridge, Natcho converted.

Rubin continued to forge on, with Ansaldi playing as an auxiliary left-winger. He found Rondon, who headed straight at Cech.

Time and again Chelsea had to repel Rubin attacks in the closing moments and reinforcements were called as Branislav Ivanovic was brought on for stoppage time as the Blues advanced.



Fenerbahce held off a determined Lazio to progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League in the eerie surrounds of a virtually empty Stadio Olimpico.
Lazio, serving the second of a two-game stadium ban, may not have had their fans to cheer them on but for 70 minutes they put up a determined fight to overcome the first-leg deficit, and Senad Lulic's goal just after the hour mark gave them hope.

But as they piled forward in search of a second, Caner Erkin's powerful equaliser - their first shot on target - ended Italian hopes and put Fener into the final four of a European competition for the first time.

Lazio dominated the first half and every chance of note was created by the hosts.

Early on, Antonio Candreva cut in from the left before firing a decent effort between two defenders but his shot was straight at Volkan Demirel.

Anderson Hernanes then tested the goalkeeper with a fierce free-kick which caught Demirel slightly wrong-footed.

He recovered to block the ball on the line but initially fumbled it, only just taking it off the toes of Libor Kozak on the line.

Candreva was then close to scoring something spectacular, hitting Lulic's low cross first-time on the volley and sending it narrowly over the crossbar.

Cristian Baroni was then booked for bringing down Ederson right on the edge of the area but Hernanes's free-kick was disappointing, going straight into the wall.

Fenerbahce never quite got it clear, however, and the ball eventually found its way back to Hernanes, whose curling effort from the edge of the area worried Demirel before going wide.

Ederson made room inside the area but his shot on the angle was blocked by Demirel's feet.

As the half ended, Hernanes' bouncing shot was fumbled and this time Kozak was booked for striking Demirel on the follow-up, although the goalkeeper seemed to make the most of it.

The pattern continued in the second half and barely two minutes after the restart Kozak had a great chance to get Lazio back into the game, heading over from Candreva's cross.

Demirel was the centre of attention again just before the hour mark, fumbling Stefan Radu's drilled shot and then needing the help of Joseph Yobo to deny Kozak's follow-up.

But a goal arrived moments later when Candreva whipped in a curling cross from the right after a quick free-kick and Lulic headed home powerfully at the far post.

Fenerbahce were rocking now and a rash challenge from Erkin on Candreva earned him a booking which will rule him out of their next European match.

But then there was a harsh booking for Lulic, who caught Yobo in the act of shooting.

Lazio continued to pile forward, having been given fresh hope, but that gave Fener space and with 18 minutes to go Erkin struck the killer blow.

Pierre Webo, with his back to goal on the penalty spot, rolled the ball out to the left and Erkin struck a thunderbolt beyond Federico Marchetti.

There was no atmosphere to kill inside the largely empty stadium but the wind was taken out of Lazio's sails either way.

Sergio Floccari headed a decent chance wide and moments later Kozak was replaced, a key danger man taking his leave.

Webo missed a good chance to kill them off completely when he mis-hit a half volley in space but Lazio could not find another goal, Lorik Cana coming closest with a powerful header at the back post which Demirel did well to palm over.