By DAN KARELL
Tottenham gave everything they had on Thursday night. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t enough.
The North London side fell to FC Basel 4-1 on penalty kicks, after 120 minutes tied at two in the Europa League quarterfinals. Clint Dempsey had both goals for Spurs on the night, giving the team an early lead before coming back to save them late in the match.
Earlier on Thursday, Chelsea fell 3-2 to Rubin Kazan in Russia, but moved on thanks to a 5-4 aggregate lead. Newcastle drew at home against Benfica 1-1, putting the Portuguese club through 4-2 on aggregate. And playing in front of an empty Stadio Olimpico, Lazio drew 1-1 with Fenerbahce, who go through to the Europa League semifinals on a 3-1 overall score.
Dempsey opened the scoring for Spurs in the 23rd minute, latching onto a through ball and rounding the Basel goalkeeper Jan Sommer, before slotting home with his left foot. Four minutes later, dynamic winger Mohamed Salah provided a quick response for Basel, finishing into the near post off quick shot that wrong footed the Spurs ‘keeper Brad Friedel.
Four minutes into the second half, Friedel made another crucial mistake, pushing a flicked corner kick into the path of Basel defender Aleksandar Dragovic, who slammed the loose ball into the net. But luckily for Spurs, it was the American Dempsey who came to the rescue, controlling a long cross and finishing with an toe-poke style shot that squirmed under Sommers arm and rolled across the line to tie the score at two.
Having used all their subs, the English side were given a massive blow in 90th minute injury time, when defender Jan Vertonghen was shown a straight red card for clattering into Basel captain Marco Streller, who was clear on goal.
Down a man, Spurs gutted out all 30 minutes of extra time, but failed to find enough left in their legs to win the eventual penalty shootout. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored, but Tom Huddleston, and Emmanuel Adebayor both missed before Basel substitute Marcelo Diaz scored the match-winning penalty.
The Europa League semifinal draw will occur on Friday morning.
Here’s a look at all the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action:
Basel 2, Tottenham 2 (4-1 on Penalties, 4-4 on aggregate)
Rubin Kazan 3, Chelsea 2 (4-5 aggregate)
Newcastle 1, Benfica 1 (2-4 aggregate)
Lazio 1, Fenerbahce 1 (1-3 aggregate)
What did you make of today’s matches? Impressed with Basel’s performance? Think Chelsea can win the competition? Who do you see lifting the trophy?
Share your thoughts below.