Tottenham 3 Dnipro 1 match report: Emmanuel Emmanuel Adebayor double seals amazing Spurs comeback in Europa League

Spurs win 3-2 on aggregate

White Hart Lane

All it took Tottenham Hotspur to start playing, and to save their season, was a quick look into the abyss. Spurs started this game poorly, and when Roman Zozulya headed Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1-0 up early in the second half, Tottenham needed three goals to stay in the Europa League, to stay fighting for something this year.

But that is precisely what they did. The desperation turned Spurs into a whole new team, who ran through Dnipro with three goals in 13 minutes, first from Christian Eriksen, then two from Emmanuel Adebayor. It was Spurs' best spell of football this season, enough to win and to warrant their last-16 matcah with Benfica.

It came after 146 minutes of ponderous, predictable and edge-free football, and with Dnipro quite deservedly 2-0 up on aggregate. At that point, Tim Sherwood could have been forgiven for wondering where exactly his Spurs season was headed. His team did not look like scoring one goal, never mind three, but then how much is there left for them this season beyond the Europa League?

Tottenham Hotspur's Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor (R) scores their second goal Tottenham Hotspur's Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor (R) scores their second goal (Getty Images)
Tottenham needed to stay in Europe. They are six points behind Liverpool but have scored half as many goals, and no-one who has seen the two teams recently would back Spurs to overhaul Brendan Rodgers' side and finish fourth. Had they gone out, Sherwood would have been left with just 11 games this season before another summer of uncertainty at White Hart Lane. The year would have ended with a whimper.

The players, though, seemed to sense this. White Hart Lane is not always easy when Spurs are behind, but here the players responded with such ferocity and courage that they carried the whole crowd with them. Their season was at stake and they started to play. Dembele hit a volley just over the bar before Eriksen slid through Soldado, whose finish was ruled out for offside.

Spurs had woken up, and soon enough they were level. Adebayor, a new player in the second half, won a free-kick from Jaba Kankava 20 yards out, on the left hand side. Eriksen curled the ball with his right foot into the near bottom corner.

Dnipro's Ukrainian midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka (2nd L) runs between Tottenham Hotspur's English defender Michael Dawson (L) and Tottenham Hotspur's English midfielder Andros Townsend (R) Dnipro's Ukrainian midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka (2nd L) runs between Tottenham Hotspur's English defender Michael Dawson (L) and Tottenham Hotspur's English midfielder Andros Townsend (R) (Getty Images)
The tie was back on, although Dnipro could have taken it away from Spurs again, Konoplyanka hitting the post from 30 yards after a clever free-kick move. But they could not cope with the pressure, though, and when Zozulya thrust his head at Jan Vertonghen, inviting him to go down, and the referee to send him off, they effectively ended their own evening.

Tottenham had the momentum and Adebayor, fully engaged, was ready to end the game. Eriksen held the ball on the left, cut in, paused, and curled in a cross to the far post. Adebayor darted in ahead of Soldado, stretched out a leg, and scored.

No goal has ever felt more imminent than the third, which came four minutes later. Zeki Fryers hit a diagonal towards Adebayor, who, as only he can, made the remarkable look simple. He nodded the ball over Yevhen Cheberyachko, skipped past him and lifted the ball over the goalkeeper.

That was the third and, despite some late scares, it was enough to send Spurs into the last-16. Just why it took Tottenham 146 minutes of this tie to start playing is just another of this side's elusive mysteries. They were dismal until Zozulya's goal, worse than they had been in the first leg in Ukraine, just as bad as in their 1-0 defeat at Carrow Road on Sunday.

Sherwood, understandably, had changed the team from that day, bringing back 4-4-2, Eriksen, Soldado and Sandro - whose last appearance was in Andre Villas-Boas' final match. Spurs were meant to assert themselves on the game but, beyond Soldado's elbow on Artem Fedetskiy, they had little impact.

Michael Dawson of Tottenham Hotspur shouts at Roman Zozulya of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk after he appeared to clash with Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur Michael Dawson of Tottenham Hotspur shouts at Roman Zozulya of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk after he appeared to clash with Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur (Getty Images)
Dnipro were strong and canny enough, in defence and midfield, to hold onto their first-leg lead and the only times Spurs looked even mildly dangerous were when Eriksen drifted inside to influence play, like a one-man search party trying find their missing strike-force. He had a shot from the edge of the box deflected over and tested Denys Boyko better than anyone else in the first-half, when his 35-yard free kick induced a save low down to the goalkeeper's right.

That was the extent of Spurs' first-half threat and Dnipro were far more dangerous breaking at pace. One quick throw sent Strinic in behind, and Kyle Naughton's tackle needed to be perfect. Matheus, so lively in the first leg, went down in the penalty area, in the vicinity of Michael Dawson, but referee Antony Gautier gave nothing.

When Zozulya headed Dnipro into the lead early in the first half they must have felt very confident, but even after Spurs' surge they had late chances. Konoplyanka forced two late saves from Lloris, including from a 30-yard added-time free-kick. But Spurs, despite themselves, had done enough.

Man of match Adebayor.

Match rating 8/10.

Referee A Gautier (France).

Attendance 32,000.

Europa League last 16 draw

AZ Alkmaar v Anzhi Makhachkala

Ludogorets v Valencia

Porto v Napoli

Lyons v Viktoria Plzeň

Seville v Real Betis

Tottenham Hotspur v Benfica

Basel v Salzburg

Juventus v Fiorentina

Ties take place 13 & 20 March

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend