Ok, I’ll get one gripe out of the way. Finish, Fernando, finish man! Why else are you here?
We won the group. We cannot play PSG, Barcelona, or Real Madrid in the next round, as well as the four English teams, three of which—at least—are going to join us atop their groups, which the rules always prohibited. So the odds say Porto, Leipzig, Sevilla, CSKA—but it could still be Bayern or Roma.
After a somewhat drab first 30 minutes, punctuated by a Vertonghen mistake and some Danny Rose ball-watching for the Dortmund goal, Spurs started to rev up the engine and could easily have scored once or twice before the break from Eriksen, Dier’s header, and a couple of chances for Son. I suspect Poch’s words helped but might not have been necessary—this team was not about to be held scoreless or lose another critical away game. The entire second half was basically played down the left with a rampant Rose, two fabulous efforts from Dele, and clinical finishes from both Kane and Son. Rose played his best game since the return from the injury and gives Pochettino two exceptional options for both domestic and European competitions. Dele’s decision to feed Kane on the opener was a terrific decision, and the effort, skill and then equally vital judgment to find Son on the winner was simply sublime. It was a reminder for all of his at times inconsistency and in-game disappearances of just how talented he truly is and vital for this squad’s success.
As for the rest, I can rarely find reason to criticize Davinson Sanchez, and tonight was no exception. Dier and Aurier each played well though their weaknesses are apparent—Dier with distribution and Aurier with crossing. Winks was a bit passive for much of the first half but came into the game well. Eriksen could easily have scored in the first half and was back to a more familiar strut after a poor display at Arsenal; Kane and Son did what they are paid to do. Lloris was Lloris.
Away form is always a sometime thing, including for most of the best teams in Europe. Yes, Spurs failed to score and lose two big games to rivals in the league. But they earned 7 points of 9 in Europe, including a victory and draw at two of the loudest and most difficult venues on the continent. Tough tests await—at Stamford Bridge, Anfield, and the Etihad— and wherever Spurs are slated in their next round of the Champions League. Tonight they showed grit and more than a little bit of class. I continue to believe the biggest success of 2017-18 will be on the biggest stage of all. We’ll know in a couple of weeks time where Spurs go next.
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