Late show leaves Spurs already on cusp of Champions League progress
Tottenham 3 Dortmund 0
Tottenham have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after a sensational finale that saw them bag two goals in the last seven minutes at Wembley.
Second half goals from Heung-Min Son, Tottenham’s outstanding player of the night, Jan Vertonghen, and sub Fernando Llorente have given them an advantage they could barely have dreamed about before the match, given the absence through injury of Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
Both may be back for the second leg at the Westfalenstadion on March 5, but now their return no longer looks as crucial as it did before kick-off.
The second half was barely into its second minute when Son broke the deadlock – and it paved the way for Tottenham’s first ever home victory in the knockout stages of the competition.
Vertonghen, playing out of position at wing back, was a revelation with his overlaps and pace down the left. He swung in a delicious curling cross behind the yellow-shirted Dortmund defence and Tottenham’s hyper-dynamic South Korean volleyed home.
And the Belgian ghosted in behind a shambolic defensive line to latch on to a superb cross from Serge Aurier to rifle home on 83 minutes.
With Spurs fans still pinching themselves at the position they suddenly found themselves in, Llorente came on and nodded home a Christian Eriksen cross – totally vindicating Mauricio Pochettino’s quirky team selection and decision not to start with a conventional number nine.
There might have been other goals too during a one-sided second half which bore no resemblance to the first 45 minutes.
A quick free-kick caught Dortmund napping and Eriksen, in acres of free room, lifted a ball towards Son which was intercepted by Achraf Hakimi, tracking back to head over the bar. Then Toby Alderweireld’s glancing header at a corner forced Roman Burki into a save.
No-one could have predicted how it would end. Spurs were not overwhelmed during the first half, but certainly lived on their nerves at times and Hugo Lloris was easily the busier of the two keepers.
The Frenchman had to stop an early effort from the Chelsea-bound Christian Pulisic after Juan Foyth had been caught in possession.
Lloris then had to save a snap shot from Axel Witsel and then had to be alert when Thomas Delaney fired a low shot at him from outside the box.
He had to be even more agile just before the break, needing to spring to his right in order to palm away a header from full-back Dan-Axel Zagadou.
It looked like Dortmund would get something from the match early on, especially with Jadon Sancho easily living up to the hype surrounding his return to play on English soil. The teenager again gave ample evidence of just why he is wowing them in the Bundesliga this season.
The England international is brimming with confidence, unafraid to take responsibility and full of quick thinking as well as good close control.
But in the end, he was just a postscript on a fantastic night for Pochettino’s men. For now, it does seem as ifSpurs refuse to read the runes and accept their time has come to bow out of the tournament. They made a miraculous escape from a group stage that looked to have devoured their ambitions for another season and it has stiffened their resolve, without a doubt.
Line-up: Lloris – Foyth, Sanchez, Alderweireld – Aurier, Sissoko (Wanyama 89), Winks, Vertonghen – Eriksen – Son (Lamela 89), Moura (Lorente 84). Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Rose, Skipp