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Football
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Dembele inspired by half-time pep talk

Tottenham's Europa League hero Mousa Dembele has revealed a half-time rallying cry from boss Andre Villas-Boas was crucial in inspiring his side's passage to the last 16 in Lyon on Thursday.

• Blog: Dembele Spurs' saviour
• AVB: Spurs can win Europa

Dembele's dramatic 90th-minute away goal secured Spurs a 3-2 aggregate win over the French side, setting up an enticing tie against Italian giants Inter Milan.

And the Belgium international confirmed after the game that a pep talk at the interval was vital in keeping Tottenham's European challenge alive.

"We have top players and it was important in the dressing room [at half-time] to wake everyone up," Dembele told the club's official website. "The manager said it and we all said 'let's go guys' and in the second half it was everything or nothing,

"The first half wasn't that good, we needed to be better and create things, to fight for each other and everyone did that. It was a great result for us."

Dembele has not scored in his previous 25 games for Tottenham and he hopes his strike, that sparked wild scenes of celebration among the travelling fans and the Spurs staff, will give their season extra impetus.

"This was my most important goal," Dembele said. "If you're in a winning mood, it's important for the league. We now have two more very good games against West Ham and Arsenal coming up but the confidence will stay high and that is good for us."

Villas-Boas was quick to hail the contribution of Dembele after his decisive goal, suggesting he hopes it is a sign of things to come from a player he feels could add a scoring touch to his game on a consistent basis.

"It's an important goal for Mousa," Villas-Boas said. "It's something he recognises that he has to do more often and this time, he got his reward. It's important for his self-confidence and it was a great goal to put us through."

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