Tottenham 1 Inter 0
A glorious Christian Eriksen strike 10 minutes from time has kept Tottenham in sight of an improbable place in
the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
Spurs and their Wembley fans needed to summon all their reserves of patience and fortitude to get the better of the famous blue and black striped Milanese.
As against PSV in the previous home tie in the group, it needed a late show to rescue fading hope.
Then, two Harry Kane goals turned things around against the Dutch. Here, it was the Dane – who only came on as a sub with 20 minutes remaining of a tense clash.
The goal owed much to a surging run from a rejuvenated Moussa Sissoko. His pass at the end of it picked out Dele Alli and a little rolled pass to the left gave Eriksen the space he needed to rifle home.
If the fixture evoked memories of that joyously unforgettable night at White Hart Lane when Gareth Bale ran the then-European Champions ragged, this one was a more uncomfortable occasion in keeping with a fraught campaign so far.
In a group characterised by its late goals, Spurs blew a lead by conceding twice in the last five minutes in the first match between the teams in Italy – and that lapse has left them playing catch up ever since.
They still have so much to do even though they have now overtaken Inter on the basis of a better head-to-head record. They must better Inter’s final group result, and while Inter play bottom of the table PSV at the San Siro, Spurs must go to Barcelona and look for a win. It is still a very tall order.
The goal was a long time coming. Spurs easily had the better of the first half – moving the ball swiftly at times and doing their best to work up the head of steam needed to unlock such a tight and disciplined defence.
Harry Winks, who seemed to pop up everywhere, bent a dipping curling shot onto the crossbar from just outside the area – the arc of the ball looking to have defeated Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal.
Kane was soon taking on defenders and trying to create space by outmuscling markers. Alli fired over after being found on the edge of the area by the Tottenham striker.
Erik Lamela sent an effort raking wide and Lucas Moura spurned a good chance after a quick counter-attack led by Sissoko, who made his presence felt during the opening exchanges in particular.
Not much was seen of Inter as an attacking force, although it still needed a yellow-carded tug from Toby Alderweireld to halt the progress of dangerman Mauro Icardi, as the Inter skipper spotted a route to goal.
Spurs kept plugging away, with Alli almost volleying in after Ben Davies had nodded back a cross from Lamela. And on 70 minutes, seconds after coming on for Lamela, Eriksen’s free-kick picked out Jan Vertonghen at the far post – only for the Belgian’s header to creep narrowly wide.
It was not quite one-way traffic, as Hugo Lloris had to be alert to save from Ivan Perisic at his near post during an Inter raid, while a cool piece of defending from Serge Aurier earlier in the half was vital in keeping the Londoners with a sniff of a chance.
They made the most of those reprieves and, somehow, have given themselves a shot at advancing in the competition.
Line-up: Lloris – Aurier, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Davies – Sissoko, Wink (Dier 87) – Lucas Moura (Son 62), Alli, Lamela (Eriksen 70) – Kane. Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Rose, Walker-Peters, Llorente.