Tottenham Hotspur vs. Basel: Final score 2-2, Bale injury overshadows Spurs comeback

Paul Gilham

Spurs managed a two-goal comeback at home to Basel, but they managed to lose both Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale in the process, giving the Swiss a major advantage going into the second leg.

Tottenham Hotspur and Basel played out a bizarre Europa League match at White Hart Lane that saw the visitors race out to a 2-0 lead only to be pegged back by goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson before a bad-looking injury to star winger Gareth Bale put a dark cloud on proceedings.

The hosts' last match in the Europa League was a 4-1 defeat at the San Siro in which their defence had a collective meltdown, and there were danger signs in the early stages against Basel. In the tenth minute, Marco Streller bullied his way through the Spurs back line and forced Brad Freidel into the game's first save.

Markus Steinhofer gave Tottenham further warning when the right back escaped Benoit Assou-Ekotto's attentions to launch a volley just over, and although Spurs looked dangerous going forward it was impossible to shake the feeling that Basel would be able to get at them.

Before the opener, however, Tottenham were struck by very bad news: Aaron Lennon was withdrawn in the 24th minute with an injury. Worse was to come on the half-hour mark when Streller spun brilliantly and rattled a shot against the post, leaving Valentin Stocker to slot in the rebound, and barely had Spurs recovered from that sucker punch before Jan Vertonghen's rather inept flicked header set up Fabian Frei to nod in from close range and make it 2-0.

Basel weren't done there either. Stocker nearly grabbed another goal after bursting clear of the Spurs defence, but put his effort just wide after Friedel close down the angle, and it looked as though the hosts were out of ideas.

Yeah, funny thing about that.

Tottenham got right back into the game with that rarest of creatures -- a good Adebayor finish. Confusion reigned in Yann Sommer's box, allowing Scott Parker to fire in a low cross which the striker managed to get a boot to, deflecting past the keeper to make it 2-1.

And they should have been level before halftime. It's not entirely clear how a professional footballer might miss an open goal from six yards, but Scott Parker (with the aide, perhaps, of January import Lewis Holtby) managed it two minutes before the break, rolling the ball several feet wide when it seemed impossible not to score.

The second half saw the match remain locked in 12,000th gear, with Friedel called into action three or four times in the ten minutes following the interval. Spurs were giving Basel problems too, and Sommer ended up at full stretch when Kyle Naughton played in a vicious long-range effort.

That Naughton shot was a harbinger of things to come, and it was Sigurdsson who provided the spark. The substitute, who'd come on for Lennon early on, picked up the ball wide on the left, but he was given the space to cut inside and shoot and did just that, his effort floating over Sommer before dropping into the goal. 2-2.

Basel's response as immediate, and Mohamed Salah really should have made it 3-2 in the visitors' favour when he escaped Vertonghen only to send his effort over the bar. Stocker's free kick then drew a flying save from Freidel just before it could bend its way into the top corner.

Jacques Zoua had a great chance to put the visitors back in front when he was found by a cutback but blasted his 77th-minute shot well wide. Basel were the ones applying all the pressure as the game died down, but eventually the fact that a 2-2 draw for the visitors would have been a very positive result permeated their collective consciousness.

But just as it looked as though full time would come without further incident, disaster struck Spurs. Gareth Bale has been the key to their season, and the Welsh superstar went down with what looked like a bad ankle injury as he chased down the ball in aptly-named injury time. It was the last real action of the match -- Basel come away with the advantage, but with Bale hurt Tottenham have bigger fish to fry.

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