Gareth Bale scored with two free kicks to give Tottenham a 2-1 win over Lyon in their Europa League soccer round of 32 opener. Liverpool lost 2-0 at Zenit St. Petersburg.
Bale’s second strike came in the third minute of stoppage time at White Hart Lane in north London last night. The Welsh winger has scored all six of Spurs’ goals over the past four games to push his season total to 17.
“I’ve been practicing free kicks on the training ground,” Bale told ITV. “Both came at good times in the game.”
Liverpool went down to two second-half goals from Zenit in Russia and defending champion Atletico Madrid also lost 2-0. Oscar came off the bench to score the only goal with eight minutes left as Chelsea beat Sparta Prague 1-0, while Newcastle had a scoreless home draw with Metalist Kharkiv.
The return matches in all 16 two-game series in Europe’s second-tier club competition will be played Feb. 21.
Bale gave Tottenham the lead in first-half stoppage time with a swerving free kick from about 35 yards out (32 meters). Lyon’s Samuel Umtiti fired a shot into the top right corner in the 55th minute to make it 1-1.
Bale struck again just before the final whistle after being fouled by Lyon captain Maxime Gonalons, sending his free kick over the wall and past goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre.
“I see Gareth practice those free kicks quite a lot after training,” Spurs midfielder Scott Parker told ITV. “That’s what you deserve when you put the practice in.”
Oscar had been on the field for just 33 seconds when he scored to give Chelsea the win in Prague. The Blues are playing in the Europa League after being eliminated from the elite Champions League, which they won last season.
“This is the competition we have to play now,” Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez said on the club’s website. “The players have to realize it’s another opportunity to win a trophy.”
Goals from Hulk and Sergei Semak three minutes apart in the second half gave 2008 UEFA Cup champion Zenit the home win over Liverpool, while scores from Gokdeniz Karadeniz and Pablo Orbaiz lifted Rubin Kazan past Atletico Madrid in Spain.
Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse had two goals disallowed for offside in his team’s draw with Metalist Kharkiv, Rodrigo Palacio scored both goals as three-time UEFA Cup winner Inter Milan beat Cluj 2-0 and Samuel Eto’o was among the scorers as Anzhi Makhachkala beat Hannover 3-1.
Viktoria Plzen won 3-0 at Napoli and Levante beat Olympiacos by the same score, getting two goals after Djamel Abdoun was sent off for the Greek side.
Fenerbahce overcame Raul Meireles’s third-minute red card to draw 0-0 at BATE Borisov, Ajax defeated Steaua Bucharest 2-0, Benfica won 1-0 at Bayer Leverkusen and Dynamo Kiev missed a penalty kick in drawing 1-1 at home with Bordeaux.
Libor Kozak’s second goal of the game in stoppage time gave Lazio a 3-3 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach, Basel beat Dnipro 2-0, and a last-minute goal from Glynor Plet gave Genk a 1-1 tie at Stuttgart.