Switzerland’s unheralded Basel became the latest model for what smaller clubs can accomplish Thursday, bouncing larger and better-financed Tottenham from Europa League play.
Unfortunately, elimination for Spurs marginalized what U.S. international Clint Dempsey accomplished on the afternoon, single handedly banging in the two goals Spurs really needed in Thursday’s match in Switzerland following the teams’ 2-2 draw last week in London.
But Basel got two as well (lots of details of today’s 2-2 draw are here), and then was absolutely clinical in the penalty kick tiebreaker. As such, the Swiss club moves on in Europa play while Dempsey and fellow American Brad Friedel, who also started Thursday, go out in the tournament into which the club had thrown so much emphasis.
The silver lining for Spurs is this: Andre Villas-Boas and his men really did put so much into this competition, occasionally at the expense of league matters, where the club is clinging to fourth place and the Champions League spot that goes with it.
It’s all about fourth or better for Spurs now.
More from Dempsey like Thursday will surely help, especially given the injury to Premier League Player of the Year frontrunner Gareth Bale. Dempsey’s goals Thursday may not have resembled the scorchers we’ve seen recently from Bale, but they were quintessentially “Dempsey,” goals of effort and opportunity, but also attached to enough skill that, truly, not everyone could manage them.
These were his first goals since Jan. 27, nine games back.
With 11 goals in all competitions for Spurs this year, he joins Jermain Defoe and Bale as double-digit scorers around White Hart Lane.