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Feb 15, 2013

Bale leaves Lyon recalling Juninho

Gareth Bale's spectacular free-kick double against Lyon in the Europa League left players and officials from the Ligue 1 club recalling Juninho Pernambucano's prowess from set pieces.

• Bale: I can get even better
• Brassell: Bale brilliance shines

Juninho, 38 - who left Lyon in 2009 - is still revered for his dead-ball skills, which brought him almost half his 97 goals for the club and set up many others.

Thursday's Europa League match left observers drawing comparisons between the Brazilian, who signed for New York Red Bulls last month, and Bale, 23, after the Wales international had given Spurs a 2-1 first leg advantage.

"We conceded two free-kicks, and it's all the more painful that they came in added time [at the end of each half]," Lyon goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre told L'Equipe.

"Bale took them well - I only saw the ball at the last minute, and it was going away from me. Bravo to him. I'd come up against Juninho, and Bale isn't bad either."

Although impressed, the French club's president Jean-Michel Aulas said Bale's brilliance would still not be enough to see Spurs through to the last 16.

"It's true that they have one or two players of great quality. They have an English [sic] Juninho," he said.

"Bale has a way of striking the ball that seems to cause goalkeepers problems. We were beaten fair and square, but we're not done yet. I have faith in my team."

Samuel Umtiti's superb second-half equaliser at White Hart Lane - a searing half-volley - gave Remi Garde's men reward for a display that contrasted greatly with their recent lacklustre domestic performances.

L'Equipe reported that Aulas had given his players, beaten by Lille last weekend to fall six points behind Ligue 1 leaders PSG, a dressing-down on Tuesday, but the president told the paper: "I didn't bawl and yell.

"I simply went to see the players in the dressing room. I told them that we'd play well at Spurs, and reminded them that collective successes were always more important that individual ones.

"Those who think the league is over are wrong, and those who don't think we'll progress in the Europa League are wrong too."

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