GENEVA, August 18 – Tottenham Hotspur suffered a huge fright in their historic bid for a Champions League berth on Tuesday, going down 3-2 against Swiss side Young Boys in Berne in the first leg of their play off.Spurs got off to a nightmare start, going three down within the first half hour as the Bernese side took full advantage of their artificial pitch.
Spurs later pulled two back through Sebastien Bassong and Roman Pavyluchenko and stifled the Young Boys’ ardour, easing their task for return leg on grass at White Hart Lane and leaving the Swiss to rue missed opportunities.
Two minutes after kick-off, Young Boys’s midfielder Senad Lulic set the tone, with a shot bouncing off the Londoners’ post with Heurelho Gomes beaten.
The Bosnian took advantage of a kind bounce off another Bernese player’s back moments later to slot the loose ball past Gomes.
But it swiftly became clear that the Swiss did not need a stroke of luck to get the better of Spurs’s unsettled defence.
Young Boys Henri Bienvenu made it 2-0 in the 13th minute, after Spurs lost the ball in midfield.
A pass from the Swiss half split Tottenham’s defence, allowing the Cameroon international to outpace Michael Dawson by running through the middle of Spurs defence and wrong-footing Gomes with a deft finish.
Spurs’ Giovani Dos Santos almost made amends but Bernese goalkeeper Marco Woelffli stamped his authority on the back with a lone save in front of the Mexican.
The Berne side seized a third after 28 minutes as Xavier Hochstrasser sneaked behind the Spurs left back to pick up a superbly weighted pass by Swiss international hope Moreno Costanzo.
Spurs notheless seized a vital away goal from a corner three minutes before half time.
Bassong outleapt the Swiss defence and placed a sizzling header above Woelffli’s head.
Playing with Pavlyuchenko instead of the lanky Peter Crouch upfront, Tottenham ultimately capitalised on the Russian’s previous experience of the speedy artificial pitch in the second half.
Pavyluchenko was both at the origin and finish of the move that produced the English side’s second goal inthe 83nd minute.
Harry Redknapp brought on Niko Kranjcar for his largely ineffective fellow Croat Luka Modric in midfield, allowing Spurs to dampen the Young Boys growing confidence, while Robbie Keane later displaced Jermain Defoe.
But the hungrier looking Swiss almost took two more through volleys on break, adding to the warning signals for the return leg in London.
Both Tottenham and Young Boys are aiming for a historic first step into the Champions’ League