Young Boys held on for a 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur to spoil the London club’s Champions League debut as both teams seek a spot in the group stages for the first time.
Young Boys went 3-0 up after 28 minutes on their artificial pitch at the Stade de Suisse in Bern, Switzerland, last night before Tottenham scored twice to get back into the two-game qualifying playoff. The return match is Aug. 25.
“That was a great defeat in the end, if there’s such a thing as a great defeat,” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports. “We were in desperate trouble at 3-0. I’m relieved in the end to come out of that with 3-2.”
Zilina, Zenit St. Petersburg and Rosenborg also won playoff openers in European soccer’s elite club competition. Dynamo Kiev, playing a man down, rallied to tie four-time champion Ajax 1-1.
The other five playoffs start today. The 10 winners over two games join the 22 automatic qualifiers in the group stage, which begins Sept. 14.
Tottenham is in the Champions League for the first time. It reached the semifinals when the competition was known as the European Cup in the 1961-62 season.
Senad Lulic hit the goalpost for Young Boys in the second minute and Thierry Doubai’s long shot then struck the back of teammate Ammar Jemal two minutes later. The ball fell to Lulic, who beat goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
Henri Bienvenu increased the lead in the 13th minute after running past Tottenham defender Michael Dawson and Xavier Hochstrasser made it 3-0 by firing past Gomes. Sebastien Bassong scored for Tottenham in the 42nd minute when he headed in Gareth Bale’s corner kick.
Young Boys missed chances to increase their lead in the second half, with Christian Schneuwly twice sending shots over the goal after being left alone in the penalty area. Roman Pavlyuchenko scored for Spurs with seven minutes left, giving the Premier League club a boost for next week’s return game.
“The first half wasn’t good enough,” Dawson told Sky Sports. “But we got in at halftime, sorted things out and stuck together.”
Momodou Ceesay and Tomas Oravec scored as Slovakian champion Zilina won 2-0 at Sparta Prague, while Aleksandr Kerzhakov’s header gave Zenit a 1-0 home win over Auxerre.
Oleh Husyev’s scored in the 66th minute to give Dynamo Kiev the home tie with Ajax, which had taken the lead through Jan Vertonghen. Denys Garmash was sent off for Dynamo in the 56th minute for a second yellow card.
The two-game playoffs in the second-tier Europa League also began with both home teams winning.
Carlos Ruiz’s goal in second-half stoppage time gave Aris Salonika a 1-0 win over Austria Vienna in Greece, while Roberto Hilbert and Ricardo Quaresma scored as Besiktas beat HJK Helsinki 2-0 in Turkey.
The remaining Europa League playoffs begin tomorrow. The series winners advance to the group stage starting Sept. 16.