Magnificent Lloris saves the day for Tottenham
Bayer Leverkusen 0 Tottenham 0
Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30
It took the save of the season, goal-line technology and plenty of luck for Tottenham to escape Leverkusen with a point. But they managed it, somehow, and flew back to Stansted with their Group E future very much in their hands.
Time after painful time in the long second half Bayer Leverkusen broke through Spurs' defence. Every chance was wasted, though, whether off target or saved by the heroic Hugo Lloris.
One second-half stop, that almost crossed the line, defied belief. And yet Spurs left with what they started with: a clean sheet and a precious point. With Monaco drawing in Moscow, Spurs remain one point off the pace.
There will not be a more entertaining 0-0 in the group phase. While Leverkusen ran through Spurs in the second half, the first half belonged to Tottenham. And for all Spurs' fortune in escaping with a point, at half-time they looked by far the likelier team to score.
Dele Alli, Vincent Janssen and Erik Lamela all missed good chances to put Spurs into the lead. It was another night when the glaring absence of Harry Kane was felt.
But Spurs lacked another of their leaders, Toby Alderweireld, and they just about survived without him. Eric Dier dropped back into defence and the Spurs back four managed to keep Leverkusen out. The visitors lost their shape in the second half and only hung on by a matter of millimetres.
That was how close Javier Hernandez's shot was to crossing the line when he tried to convert Lars Bender's cross at the far post.
Lloris, producing the save of the season, threw himself back across goal, held the ball and rolled over it, always keeping enough of it just level with the line.
Leverkusen were shocked that the goal-line technology had ruled against them, but they did not let it get them down. Charles Aranguiz forced Lloris to save low to his right from his long-range free-kick. But it was Danny Rose, not Lloris, who produced the next desperate heroics. First he blocked Aranguiz's shot on the line, then he stopped a Hernandez volley. Both were going in.
Mauricio Pochettino knew that they needed to change. So on came Mousa Dembele and then Moussa Sissoko, to strengthen a midfield that was simply being blown away.
The final minutes were not comfortable: Dier slipped and before Kiessling realised what had happened, the ball had hit him and flown wide. (© Independent News Service)