Spurs saw off Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie with a masterful defensive display and a piece of clinical finishing the Germans could only dream of.
It’s Spurs so everyone was expecting them to struggle despite going into the game three nil up from the first leg, no team had failed to get through after such a convincing home victory, Spurs could turn that around but what followed was a show of commitment that has been missing of late.
Poch started with a back three, two wing-backs, three in the middle and Son up top with Harry. It very quickly became a back five as Aurier and Davies were pushed back by the Dortmund attacks. They were relentless, Spurs helping out with a complete lack of any ability to hold onto the ball. Winks and Eriksen in the middle were offering nothing in the middle bar coughing up the ball.
At the back Dortmund were creating chances and some of the defending was last gasp but it was fully committed, exemplified by Vertonghen’s glorious tackle when Reus was through, 10 minutes in. Davies followed it up with his own Jan impersonation to block off yet another chance later on. And when the defenders were bypassed Hugo was doing his best Hugo Lloris impersonation. This was our Hugo back. Yes there was individual errors that let players through but a team commitment to get something in front of every attempt, when possible. A commitment that you feel hasn’t been shown so much from some lately.
With the midfield overrun Poch didn’t wait until half-time to make the shift required. Not long into the game he got Son to drop back onto the left flank. Give Davies some cover and put more bodies in the middle, in what was now a 5-4-1 lineup.
It almost immediately paid off but for the recent bane of Spurs… inept officiating. Eriksen scuffed a ball through ans Son was off, into the area he was just about to take his shot when he was pushed in the back, knocking him off balance and shoving the shot wide. The lino flagged for offside so the ref didn’t bother with the rest. But he wasn’t off and the push should have been a penalty and a red card, for no attempt to play the ball.
Down to 10 men and an away goal down on the night, needing to score five now to go through it would have finished Dortmund off early.
The half though carried on as it had begun with Dortmund chances and Spurs stopping them. Up until about ten minutes from the break when Spurs finally got their foot on the ball.
Things looked like it would carry on the same in the second half, for a couple of minutes, when Sissoko played a lovely ball through the middle of the yellow sea, which parted to leave Harry Kane all on his own with just the keeper to beat, which of course he did, with ease.
That was it, that’s all they really needed, that away goal leaving Dortmund needing to score five without reply.
Dortmund, load of chances, couldn’t take one. Harry one chance. One goal. And now he’s Spurs’ leading goal scorer in Europe. More chances came for the home team and more chances were fluffed or snuffed out. If they were going to score it was only going to be a consolation.
So in the end Spurs cruised into the quarter finals of the Champions League hopefully now to play the next home game actually at home, White Hart Lane not Wembley, after a thoroughly professional job in seeing out a game in such an un-Spurs like manner.