Jan, Son and Poch Spells Victory

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Yep, there we were. Only a goal ahead through a spectacular cross by Vertonghen and finish by Son. Whereas Dortmund had slightly been the better side in the first half, after the goal Spurs took it up a notch, and dominated for long spells. But that inner voice around England surely could be heard—“just like Spurs to bottle this… the equalizer is coming.. Lloris or Foyth or Sanchez or someone will screw this up” Not this team. Not this season. We score late, and then we score some more. Serge Aurier replicated Jan’s cross in mirror image only this time it was the Flying Belgian who volleyed it home—Llorente (why not?) added the cherry on top of a glorious Wembley sundae and it might be impertinent and premature, but so what? I can’t wait for the draw… can’t wait to see how we will get in the quarter-finals, because while City may be the toughest foe, there’s not a one of them this collection of players under this coach can’t defeat. Not Barca. Not Madrid—either of them. Not PSG. Not Bayern. Not Juve. Not Pool.

I think I have to start with Poch and the decision to play 5 in the back and shift Vertonghen to a position he used to openly complain about—here and in Belgium—when he was slotted there. Foyth gave the ball away a couple of times, but recovered with a nice clearance, enough attention to weaken the header before the half, and played the ball out of trouble with increasing confidence. Toby and Davinson were as expected—authoritative, imperious, solid. Aurier looked to threaten down the right flank several times and, despite being booked early, defended competently. And Jan… well Jan has never been more Super than he was tonight. After a slightly dodgy first half in which one had to wonder just what we were missing not having Danny Rose to maraud down the left flank, Vertonghen made a gorgeous cross to Son for the opening goal, made several threatening runs afterwards, then was smashing down the middle—Kane style—to hammer home the second from Aurier’s cross, and just for good measure I think he fed the press and swept up the rubbish and ushered the Dortmund crowd out safely as well. It was as complete and emphatic a half of football as anyone not named Harry Kane has played in the past four seasons—and speaks volume about the collective Pochettino is building.

So the attack was ragged and disjointed in the first period—not my words but rather a BeIN commentator—with Lucas, Son and Eriksen attempting but generally failing to link up. No matter—two minutes into the second, the world changed. And then when it got late, we do what we keep doing this season—score late goals to break the other team’s heart and spirit. I don’t know how tough the Germans will be in their reverse fixture—obviously an early goal will enflame their passionate supporters and make for a tense evening. But with Kane for sure and Dele (we hope) back they will be a playing confident and talented group unwilling to lose the stranglehold on the quarter finals.

Poch has always said the two competitions which matter are the Premier and Champions Leagues. We are more than alive in both. We have incredibly relevant fixtures against the best London, the north of the England, and the continent have to offer— sprinkled throughout the next month or so. I think this team is capable of anything right now. It has all been building toward something—we just didn’t know what. I think we got a glimpse of the what tonight— to which I say why not?

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