Andre Villas-Boas heaped praise on Gareth Bale after his match-winning display put Tottenham in the driving seat against Lyon in their Europa League clash.
An under par Spurs side were dragged to a 2-1 victory by the Welsh winger, who scored both goals for the Premier League side with stunning free kicks.
Lyon thought they had done enough to have secure a draw after Samuel Umtiti's powered home an equaliser 10 minutes after the break, only for Bale to steal the win in stoppage time.
"Today we saw not only two great moments of brilliance but three as their goal was absolutely fantastic, too," Villas-Boas said afterwards.
"It played out to be an excellent game. Maybe the first half was a little more exciting as in the second half both teams struggled to get the ball on the ground and get it moving.
"It was a bit sloppy but we saw some moments of individual brilliance and Gareth was fantastic once again." Bale has scored seven goals in his last five matches for club and country, and Villas-Boas hailed his current form.
"Yeah, he is going through a great individual moment," he said. "I think you have to recognise that. He is scoring lots of goals for the team and I think this is his best goalscoring season for Tottenham. You can see the player is enjoying his football and getting a buzz out of it.
"Once things like this happen, individual players keep their motivation high and they are able to help the team reach their objectives."
Remi Garde, the Lyon manager, was unhappy with the performance of Pedro Proenca, the referee at White Hart Lane.
"Let's see what sort of referee we get in the second leg," he said. "Let's see if he blows for free-kicks that are free-kick, or free-kicks that aren't really free-kicks or award a penalty if it is a proper penalty. Let's wait and see."
But the former Arsenal player believed the result kept the Ligue 1 side still in with a chance of reaching the last-16.
"What I would say is that in the tie we are still just at half-time, aren't we," he said.
"It is the same feelings I might have at half-time in an ordinary game. We lost the first set, if you like.
"The main thing is we come away from here with one away goal and we've got the second leg to come."
Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool still have a fighting chance of reaching the last-16 of the Europa League despite their 2-0 loss to Zenit St Petersburg.
Having squandered a number of chances, Liverpool were made to pay after Hulk's brilliant 70th minute long-range effort, which was rapidly followed by a second from substitute Sergei Semak.
"There is no way the tie is over, not by a long shot. We are more than capable of getting the goals back," Rodgers said afterwards.
"I think the next goal is vitally important for us and what gives us hope is we created enough to win the game. "If we get it early it can create the momentum for us."
Rodgers refused to criticise Suarez after the Uruguay international could not find the net on a frustrating night in front of goal.
"He could have had a hat-trick by half-time," Rodgers said. "It just wasn't his night but he's been brilliant for us all season.
"The important thing is that after his first one-on-one, he kept going and was still in there."
Luciano Spalletti, the Zenit coach, sounded a word of warning to his players amid all the celebration.
"During the first half we had a number of opportunities - as well as our opponents - and in the second half we managed to convert those opportunities into goals," he said.
"The tie is far from over. We're going to Anfield. It's the place where the hosts' fans become monsters, the players become really up for the fight."
Rafael Benitez called for Chelsea to be more clinical and once again defended Fernando Torres following their unconvincing 1-0 win at Sparta Prague.
With a stalemate looming and the visiting fans' ire for Benitez and Torres increasing, Oscar came off the bench to score the winner eight minutes from time to give last season's Champions League winners the advantage ahead of next week's second leg of the last 32 tie at Stamford Bridge.
"Eighteen attempts away is not bad, but we have to be more clinical in attack," Benitez said.
"The first 20 minutes we were in control. We had some half chances; it was a cross, we weren't there. We were in control.
"After this 20 minutes they were pushing and pushing. The team, as a team, had problems defending.
"We changed a little bit in the second half. I think the concentration of the team was much better, the intensity in defence was much better and then we had more control."
Vitezslav Lavicka, the Sparta coach, said Chelsea's ruthlessness was the difference in his side's first competitive match in two month.
"From the 60th minute we were under pressure," Lavicka said. "We lost balls when we were attacking. Then the opponent had the chances.
"Unfortunately we didn't have the energy and the opponent punished us with the goal they scored.
"It was a factor, but it's not an excuse for us. In the Czech Republic we have a winter break and that's what we have to deal with."
Alan Pardew was left to bemoan two disallowed goals as Newcastle were denied victory over Metalist Kharkiv in controversial style.
Papiss Cisse saw efforts chalked off either side of half-time which replays suggested should have stood, to leave the scores level and the match perfectly balanced going into the second leg in the Ukraine.
"Both 'goals' were goals," said Pardew afterwards "When you see the replays, you can see that.
"The first one, I have to say, I was a little bit undecided from where I stood, but the second one I thought was a definite goal, so that was tough to take because in these games, those margins are the difference.
"When you get decisions like that going against you, it puts fire in your belly. We came off the pitch very, very disappointed with those decisions and we are going to take that into the second leg."
Metalist had their opportunities too, with Tim Krul tested by Cleiton Xavier's first-half header.
After the game Myron Markevich, the Metalist coach, said he did not feel the score gave his side an advantage.
He said: "It's 50-50. Newcastle are a very good team and I am just wondering why Newcastle are not in the top 10 this time.
"It's a very balanced team and I think the quality shown by them was very good.
"It was quite a good game. No-one sat back. It could have been a win, it could have been a defeat. Both teams could have won the game."
Viktoria Plzen confirmed themselves as one of the dark horses in this year's Europa League after shocking Napoli 3-0 in the first leg of the last-32 tie at San Paolo.
Plzen beat defending champions Atletico Madrid to top their group and are now heavy favourites to progress past the high-flying Italians after late goals from Stanislav Tecl and Frantisek Rajtoral built on Vladimar Darida's first-half opener.
Anzhi Makhachkala recovered from a goal down to defeat Hannover 3-1 although the Russian side will hope they will not be made to rue Samuel Eto'o's missed second-half penalty.
Hannover took a 22nd-minute lead through Szabolcs Huszti but Eto'o drew Anzhi level soon after and Odil Ahmedov put the hosts ahead immediately after half-time.
Eto'o then spurned the chance to make it 3-1 in the 57th minute when his spot-kick was saved by Ron-Robert Zieler, but Anzhi were still able to secure a two-goal lead to take to Germany for the second leg thanks to Mbark Boussoufa.
Levante put aside their poor domestic form to claim an impressive 3-0 victory over 10-man Olympiacos that leaves them within touching distance of a place in the last 16.
The Spanish outfit out had lost five of their last six in league and cup prior to tonight but goals from Pedro Rios, Jose Barkero and Obafemi Martins earned Juan Ignacio Martinez's men a notable scalp against a side who were playing in the Champions League group stages before Christmas.
Oleg Gusev missed a second-half penalty as wasteful Dynamo Kiev played out a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux. The Ukrainian hosts dominated the contest and took a deserved lead through Lukman Haruna, but that was cancelled out within minutes by Ludovic Obraniak.
Goals by Toby Alderweireld and Ricardo Van Rhijn guided Ajax to a 2-0 victory over 10-man Steaua Bucharest at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Fenerbahce held BATE Borisov to a goalless draw in their Europa League first leg in Belarus despite playing all bar the first three minutes with 10 men after Raul Meireles was sent off early on.
Two goals for Lazio from Libor Kozak as well as three penalties for Borussia Monchengladbach saw a breathless match end with the 10-man Italian club in pole position ahead of the second leg.
Martin Stranzl's penalty put the Bundesliga side ahead before Sergio Floccari and Kozak turned the pendulum Lazio's way.
Stranzl then missed his second penalty, which also saw Andre Dias dismissed following his second yellow card, before three goals in six minutes brought a pulsating 3-3 draw to an end.
Atletico Madrid look to be heading out after they were beaten 2-0 at home by Rubin Kazan.
Gokdeniz Karadeniz put the Russians ahead after six minutes before Pablo Orbaiz doubled their advantage in added on time.
Juande Ramos' chances of becoming only the second manager to win the Europa League for a third time may have to wait another year after his Dnipro side were beaten 2-0 by Basle at St. Jakob-Park.
Ramos had won the trophy twice before at Sevilla and a third triumph would put him level with Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
However a first-half goal from Valentin Stocker and a second-half strike from Marco Streller ensured the Swiss side head into next week's second leg atthe Dnipro Stadium in control.
A last-minute goal from Glynor Plet gave Genk a precious away goal as they held Stuttgart 1-1 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Christian Gentner had fired the hosts ahead before half-time, but Plet struck in stoppage time to level the scores and give his team the advantage heading into the return match in Belgium next week.
Rodrigo Palacio scored twice following his early entrance as a substitute to put Inter Milan in control of their tie against Cluj.
Palacio, a 10th-minute replacement after a serious-looking injury to Diego Milito, scored 10 minutes after that and added a late second in a 2-0 win.