Spurs final Champions League group game was looking to be their last Champions League game of the season in a spectacularly Spursy manner as they were dominating Barcelona but losing, when they only needed a draw.
Needing to just match what Inter Milan were doing against PSV – not win as many pundits would have you believe beforehand, it’s almost as if they don’t know what they’re talking about – Spurs were being generously helped by the other two after going behind to Barca in the seventh minute.
It was all so Spursy. People that were lauding Kyle Walker-Peters for an early surge down the right were calling him out minutes later. From the free-kick he won, Eriksen didn’t get close to the Spurs players in the box, headed out, it was headed back by Sissoko to Walker-Peters, who panicked, coughed up possession to Dembele who was off, twisting and turning W-P, then paying no attention to Winks attempt at a sliding block before putting the ball past Hugo.
Oh well. Then minutes later the news that PSV had taken the lead, so back to square one.
The first half meandered. At the end of it Winks had made the most passes of anyone on the pitch but nobody could actually remember one. None of them did anything or were of any great importance or inspiration.
Spurs did make chances, Eriksen in acres of space found Rose in acres of space and his cross fizzed across the box just out of the reach of Son’s outstretched leg. It was like Gazza in the Euro ’96 semi. Some nice one touch stuff had Eriksen playing Son through, he skinned the ex-Woolwich defender and was through on goal, only to hit the keeper.
Coutinho did hit the post with one of their few flurries forward. When you know he’s only got one foot why let him get on that foot?
It was the second half that was making this look as Spursy as you can get. Yes rival fans bleat about a Barca B team, but there’s not many sides that go there and dominate them the way Spurs did. At the end of the game Spurs had more of the ball, more shots and more shots on target.
Go to Barcelona, batter ’em, have PSV go ahead but then they concede – I’m really getting to dislike Icardi – so you create chance after chance and blow it or the keeper has his Tim Krul day.
Added to that the home side fall over at the slightest breeze of air between them and the Spurs player that doesn’t touch them, while challenges that are penalties for Spurs get waved away. Doesn’t matter how soft the push was it was a push on Kane when through on goal, making him balloon the shot over the bar. While Moura who was brought on for Son, was taken down by a blatant foul. Barca had obviously felt the pressure of this Spurs dominance and so had introduced Messi.
One spurned chance looked to have sewn everything up. First a cracking cross from, the now right-back, Sissoko found Moura in the box, it seemed to find his thigh and was saved off the line – he retrieved the ball and fizzed a shot wide of the post.
Then with just five minutes of normal time remaining and the news that Inter had equalised having gone round about ten minutes earlier, from a Barca attack the ball was played out to Lamela, he played in Harry, into the box his cross found Moura and Moura finally found the net. Rejoice… but then there’s still time for inter to get a winner… or Barca for that matter. It should have been wrapped up just before the 90 minutes were up. Eriksen to Lamela onto Kane again and his glorious no eyes, reverse ball outside to the charging Rose saw the fullback blast it well over the bar.
After four minutes of added time in both games, which extended past five in the other game, the final whistles went and Spurs had survived. Mission impossible, mission improbable. Spursy would have seen a last second Inter goal, from an own-goal to make it really Spursy.
No points after two games, just one after three. Two wins and a draw, doing it when they had to, not really Spursy at all.
Maybe the new stadium will be the only place to watch the Champions League in London come the new year…