Bale steals the show, Reds slump at Zenit
Gareth Bale scored two sensational free-kicks as Tottenham gained the advantage over Lyon with a thrilling last-gasp 2-1 win in the Europa League at White Hart Lane.
• Blog: Reds' falling standing • Europa League Gallery Samuel Umtiti looked like he had earned a draw for Lyon when he smashed home a stunning half-volley equaliser in the 55th minute, but once again Bale came to the rescue for Spurs. The Welshman put Tottenham ahead with another physics-defying set piece from 35 yards in first-half stoppage time, and he came up with the goods again just 10 seconds from the final whistle. Maxime Gonalons upended Bale 20 yards out, the crowd called the 23-year-old's name, and he stepped up to crack a swirling shot over the wall and past a spinning Remy Vercoutre. The Spurs winger, who played most of the first half up front alongside the poor Emmanuel Adebayor, has now scored seven goals in his last five games for club and country. Liverpool conceded two goals in less than three minutes at Zenit St Petersburg to leave their Europa League campaign hanging in the balance with a 2-0 defeat. Despite having failed to properly test goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev with a number of chances the Reds seemed to be managing to hold on in their last-32 Europa League first-leg tie in the sub-zero Petrovsky Stadium. But with 20 minutes remaining Hulk powered home a brilliant 30-yard strike before substitute Sergei Semak converted from close-range moments later. Liverpool - and in particular top scorer Luis Suarez - will have to rediscover their shooting boots for the return leg next week otherwise their last chance of a trophy this season will be lost. Oscar saved Chelsea, interim boss Rafael Benitez and striker Fernando Torres from embarrassment with an 82nd-minute winner to secure a 1-0 victory away to Sparta Prague. Torres, a £50 million striker now with one goal in 13 games, missed a straightforward effort after 35 minutes and sliced a second-half shot out for a corner in another impotent display from last season's Champions League winners at the Generali Arena. With a stalemate looming and the visiting fans' ire for Benitez and Torres increasing, Oscar came on for Juan Mata and scored with his first involvement, netting neatly following a one-two with Eden Hazard. Anzhi Makhachkala recovered from a goal down to win 3-1 against Hannover, although the Russian side will hope they will not be made to rue Samuel Eto'o's missed second-half penalty. Hannover took a 22nd-minute lead through Szabolcs Huszti but Eto'o drew Anzhi level soon after and Odil Ahmedov put the hosts ahead immediately after half-time. Eto'o then spurned the chance to make it 3-1 in the 57th minute when his spot-kick was saved by Ron-Robert Zieler, but Anzhi were still able to secure a two-goal lead to take to Germany for the second leg thanks to Mbark Boussoufa's strike. Papiss Cisse had two goals disallowed as Newcastle drew 0-0 and failed to claim the first-leg lead over Metalist Kharkiv they so desperately wanted to take to Ukraine. The Senegal international had a 23rd-minute effort controversially ruled out for offside, and then another 16 minutes from time for the same reason to leave the Magpies facing a stern test in next Thursday's Europa League last-32 second leg. Goals by Toby Alderweireld and Ricardo Van Rhijn guided Ajax to the brink of a place in the last 16 with a comfortable 2-0 victory over 10-man Steaua Bucharest at the Amsterdam ArenA. The margin of victory could have been greater but for the performance of Steaua goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, although the visitors may well rue their inability to attack until they were two goals down. Overturning such a deficit against Frank de Boer's team in Romania is daunting enough, but they must do so without Mihai Pintilii, who was sent off at the death for his second bookable offence.
Plzen beat defending champions Atletico Madrid to top their group and are now heavy favourites to progress past the high-flying Italians after late goals from Stanislav Tecl and Frantisek Rajtoral built on Vladimar Darida's first-half opener.
Oscar Cardozo's second-half strike was enough to ensure Benfica will take a slender 1-0 advantage back to the Estadio da Luz against Bayer Leverkusen. Cardozo tapped home an Andre Almeida assist the hour as Bayer conceded at home in Europe for the first time this season.
Victory extends Benfica's unbeaten run to 23 games in all competitions although the Portuguese, who dropped out of the Champions League, had to work hard to maintain that run.
Substitute Libor Kozak netted a brace to help 10-man Lazio gain the upper hand against Borussia Monchengladbach following a breathless 3-3 draw in the first leg that saw the home side awarded three penalties.