Battling Spurs give Benfica a mighty scare
Tottenham's hopes of winning a trophy are over for another season yet they will return from Portugal with renewed optimism after Nacer Chadli's brace ended a three-match losing streak in a compelling Europa League clash at Benfica.
An impressive 3,000 fans made the trip to Lisbon more in hope than expectation after the Portuguese giants inflicted a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie – Spurs' largest ever European loss at White Hart Lane.
Their task was made all the more difficult by the absence of 11 first-teamers, but they did not wilt under the pressure and Tim Sherwood's side secured a morale-boosting 2-2 draw in a fascinating end to the match.
The manner of performance and display will have pleased the under-fire boss, especially given the fact Spurs' uphill struggle became even steeper when Ezequiel Garay powered home a first half header.
It looked to have effectively ended the tie in which there were no repeat of the fireworks between Sherwood and Benfica counterpart Jorge Jesus, only for summer signing Chadli to turn the match on its head.
The Belgium forward netted a quickfire brace which was followed up by efforts from Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Harry Kane, as well as a strong penalty claim before Lima tucked away a spot-kick for the hosts in stoppage-time.
It was an impressive display given the paucity of options at Spurs' disposal, highlighted by the fact seven of the 21 players that travelled to Portugal had not yet played for the first team.
Five of them – Jordan Archer, Milos Veljkovic, Connor Ogilvie, Dominic Ball and Harry Winks – were included on the bench at the Estadio da Luz.
The main concern, though, was the lack of a recognised centre-back in the side.
Benfica went ahead on the night in the 34th minute as Eduardo Salvio saw off Lennon and clipped in a fine ball for Garay to powerfully header home.
Spurs now needed three goals to take the match to extra-time.
Kane was brought on in a bid to grab a leveller and started a move that resulted in Chadli firing at Oblak, who the Belgium international did beat with 12 minutes remaining as he cut in from the left and lashed home a superb 20-yard drive.
Spurs then netted a quickfire second. Kane knocked a back-post cross into the path of Chadli, who impressively turned to fire a left-footed half-volley into the far corner.
It was a remarkable turnaround and one which would have improved further was it not for Luisao denying Lennon the opportunity to roll the ball into an empty net.
Tottenham continued to press for another goal, with Kane having penalty claims rejected after being upended.
Oblak made fine saves to deny Sigurdsson and Kane as the visitors continued to press, only to get caught by a stoppage-time sucker-punch as Lima netted after being brought to the deck by Sandro.