London: Roman Pavlyuchenko`s late strike gave Tottenham Hotspur a Champions League lifeline on a torrid night against Swiss club Young Boys as they clawed back from a calamitous start to lose their playoff first leg 3-2.
Senad Lulic, Henri Bienvenu and Xavier Hochstrasser fired Young Boys into a 3-0 lead after 28 minutes on the plastic Stade de Suisse pitch in Berne but Sebastien Bassong replied before halftime and Pavlyuchenko`s unstoppable drive after 83 minutes left next Wednesday`s second leg in London delicately poised.
In the night`s other four ties, four-times European champions Ajax Amsterdam drew 1-1 away to Dynamo Kiev while Norwegians Rosenborg Trondheim beat FC Copenhagen 2-1 at home.
Sparta Prague lost 2-0 at home to Slovakian side Zilina and Zenit St Petersburg eeked out a narrow 1-0 win against French side Auxerre. Five more playoff ties begin on Wednesday including a clash between Werder Bremen and Sampdoria.
Premier League Tottenham have not played in the continent`s blue riband club competition since reaching the semi-finals of the old European Cup in 1962 and their hopes of mixing it with the powerhouses of the game in the group stages appeared in tatters as a fired-up Young Boys put them to the sword early on.
However, with two away goals they will now start slight favourites to progress.
"In the end that was a great defeat if there is such a thing because at 3-0 down we were out of it," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports.
"We didn`t look happy on the (plastic) surface, we couldn`t get hold of the ball and we didn`t look confident in our play and we were in desperate trouble to be fair. Now the tie is evenly balanced and we have a great chance at home."
Lulic had already struck the post for last season`s Swiss runners-up and after four minutes the ball dropped kindly to him on the edge of the Tottenham area and he drilled a shot past Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes.
Nine minutes later Bienvenu left Tottenham defender Michael Dawson in his wake before calmly side-footing past Gomes. With Spurs in disarray, Hochstrasser rifled a shot past Gomes after a defence-splitting pass by Moreno Costanzo.
The Swiss crowd were in party mood but Bassong silenced them after 42 minutes with a thumping header to give the visitors some hope for the second half.