Wednesday 23 August 2017 / 04:24 PM

Tottenham Out, Chelsea In Semi’s

Tottenham Hotspur’s European dream was shattered at St Jakob’s Park on Thursday evening after they fell to FC Basle on penalties.

 

The Swiss outfit eased through the shoot-out 4-1 to book a place in the last four and send Andre Villas Boas’ team packing following a 2-2 draw on the night and a 4-4 aggregate result.

 

Spurs hit the front midway through the first half after a bright start however Clint Dempsey’s strike was cancelled out by goals from Mohamed Salah and Aleksander Dragovic either side of the break.

 

Tottenham’s never say die European attitude came to the fore once again and the North Londoner’s equalised eight minutes from time when American Dempsey notched a second.

 

But with momentum apparently on their side heading into stoppage time, centre-back Jan Vertonghen was dismissed for felling Marco Streller – and Spurs immediately knew that a long gruelling half hour of extra time lied in wait.

 

The visitors pulled out all the stops to hang on for dear life facing wave upon wave of Basle attacks and it was sheer determination and grit that forced a tense penalty shoot-out.

 

Nevertheless, Spurs’ efforts were in vain as Tom Huddlestone and Emmanuel Adebayor both fluffed their lines tamely from twelve yards whilst the hosts converted four immaculate penalties past a helpless Brad Friedel to progress to the semis.

 

There was also European heartache for Newcastle United after the Magpies failed to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit against Benfica at St James’ Park.

 

The Toon Army, roared on ardently as ever by their home supporters, fought hard to get back into the tie and on 72 minutes the comeback was on after Papiss Cisse broke the deadlock.

 

Alan Pardew’s men pushed for a decisive second but were ultimately left exposed by their attacking commitment in injury time when Salvio scored to seal a 4-2 aggregate success for the Portuguese giants, who will start the semi-finals as favourites to lift the trophy in May.

 

It wasn’t all bad for the English teams on Thursday as Chelsea moved into the last four of the competition however they were beaten on the night by Rubin Kazan in Russia.

 

Goals from strikers Fernando Torres and Victor Moses were not enough to prevent a 3-2 defeat for the Blues however their 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge a week ago meant that Rafa Benitez’ side triumphed 5-4 overall to continue their hunt for European compensation after an unexpected exit from the Champions League earlier in the campaign.

 

Fenerbahce will complete the semi-final line-up after they upset Lazio with a 3-1 aggregate success.

 

The Turkish side held a telling 2-0 advantage heading into the second leg in Rome and managed to see things out at the Stadio Olympico after Caner Erkin’s strike on 73 minutes earned a fine 1-1 draw.

 

All four remaining teams will discover their semi-final fate when the draw is made at UEFA HQ on Friday with the next round set to take place in a fortnight’s time.

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Chris Kisby

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