It took eight games, but finally a British side has won a European game in 2014. It came thanks to a
Tottenham victory over Ukrainian side Dnipro, which sees them progress into the round-of-16, after Swansea had earlier fallen to Napoli.
Tottenham 3-1 Dnipro (3-2 on aggregate)
Former manager Juande Ramos returned to White Hart Lane hoping to lead his Dnipro side into the next round of the competition, but goals from Christian Eriksen and a double from Emmanuel Adebayor ensured it was the London club who progressed.
The first half was a very cagey affair, with Dnipro more than happy to sit back and look to add to their 1-0 lead from the first leg on the counter attack. Chances were limited as Spurs found it difficult to break down their Ukranian opponents. Eriksen’s deflected shot was the best the home side could create in the first 45 minutes. Matheus had a chance to test Hugo Lloris but instead threw himself to the floor in an unsuccessful attempt to earn a penalty.
A second half full of action began with a Dnipro goal, extending their aggregate lead to 2-0 through a Roman Zozluya header from Rotan’s precise free kick.
Five minutes later Roberto Soldado thought he had equalised on the night, but his goal drought was to continue as he looked over to see the offside flag raised.
Three goals in the space of fifteen minutes were to follow to relieve Tottenham’s nerves. First Christian Eriksen’s whipped free kick beat the Dnipro goalkeeper, who will feel he should have done better at his near post. Dnipro’s scorer Zozluya then saw red after needlessly head-butting Jan Vertonghen to reduce his team to ten men.
Spurs still needed two goals to progress, and they both came from Emmanuel Adebayor. His first was an easy finish after a sublime Eriksen cross, his second a brilliantly executed finish after chesting down Zeki Fryer’s cross-field pass.
Tim Sherwood’s men held on for the last twenty minutes, despite moments of quality from Liverpool target Konoplyanka, as they go on to face Portuguese league leaders Benfica in the next round.
Napoli 3-1 Swansea (3-1 on aggregate)
An identical score line was harsh on Swansea in Naples as two late goals saw Napoli progress.
Young Italian striker Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring for Napoli after 17 minutes, beating the offside trap before skilfully lifting the ball over an advancing Michel Vorm. This seemed to spark some life into Swansea who began to stamp their authority onto the game.
A period of dominance for the Swans brought about a much deserved equaliser when Jonathan de Guzman slotted beneath Pepe Reina on the half hour mark.
The score remained at 1-1 at half time, with Swansea knowing that if no more goals were scored they would secure a famous victory thanks to the away goals rule.
Wilfried Bony should have put the game out of sight midway through the second half, but he put his open-header straight into the arms of the on-loan Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina. Swansea would come to rue that miss when Higuain powered his shot into the back of the net with just 10 minutes remaining.
Swansea pushed desperately for a goal to put them through in a frantic last few minutes, but with men committed forward Napoli hit them on the counter in stoppage time, with Gokhan Inler ending Swansea’s European adventure.
Best of the rest
A number of Europe’s elite remain as the Europa League begins to hot up. FC Porto played out a thriller in Frankfurt, eventually progressing on the away goals rule after a 3-3 draw on the night.
Favourites Juventus had a far easier path to the next round, beating Trabzonspor 2-0 to progress with a 4-0 aggregate victory.
Fiorentina, Valencia and FC Basel all also remain in the competition as Thursday nights finally start to play host to some top quality European football.
Image courtesy of Sporting Life