Bale again the hero as Spurs edge past Lyon.
Gareth Bale struck two unstoppable free-kicks as Tottenham beat Lyon 2-1 in first-leg ofthe Europa League last-32.
Bale beat Lyon keeper Remy Vercoutre with a dipping 35-yard effort 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.
The stunning brace means the Welshman has now scored Spurs’ last six goals in all competitions and seven in five match matches for club and county.
Head-coach Andre Villas-Boas again stressed how important the 23-year-old is for his improving side and, in truth, Bale was the brightspot in a lacklustre Tottenham performance.
The host started brightly, with Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker providing plenty of problems for Lyon’s teenage left-back Umtiti.
Bale proved he was human when he volley over wildly from Lennon’s cross before the former Southampton star inexplicably skewed Walker’s ball wide with the goal gaping.
Lyon looked the more dangerous up front, with the busy Lisandro Lopez and Bafetimbi Gomis eager to run at the Londoners’ back four.
Gomis demanded a penalty when Jan Vertonghen appeared to catch him midway through the first-half but the referee waved away appeals.
Bale’s strike ensured Spurs led at the break but Spurs lacked ideas in the second-half, with Moussa Dembele and Scott Parker looking a tired central pairing.
Lyon deserved equalised on sixty minutes when Umtiti met William Gallas’ clearance and drilled a brilliant half volley into the top corner.
Villas-Boas had denied current number one Hugo Lloris the chance to face his former club – with veteran Brad Friedel given a chance between the sticks – but no ‘keeper in the world would have saved the young Frenchman’s effort.
Spurs continued to control possession but lacked ideas and the game looked to be headed for a draw before Bale’s late intervention.