Alli double on night brilliant Spurs make a statement
Tottenham 3 Real Madrid 1
Glory, glory Tottenham Hotspur. After the coming-of-age draw away to Real Madrid in the Champions League two weeks ago, this was the result and the performance that places them among the big boys.
They humiliated the European champions, Real Madrid, the double European champions at that, and although this was only a group stage encounter it will live in the memory for years to come.
Never mind taxi for Maicon, this was taxi for Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. For the Spanish giants there were 'olés' from the delirious Spurs fans as their team played keep-ball.
There were two goals for Dele Alli, also, and while his reputation will grow so will that, even more so, of Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. These kind of results get noticed across Europe and, after the embarrassment, Madrid will be among those pondering.
This was Spurs' first win over them and the first time Madrid had been beaten in 31 Champions League group matches.
That is the context, the worth, the resonance of such a richly-deserved victory for Pochettino and his vibrant young team. Los Merengues were humbled by the Lilywhites.
It was a whitewash. Alli's goal was a just reward - a reward that had Ronaldo shaking his head at how vulnerable Madrid were.
It also came after Spurs shook off the severe setback of losing Toby Alderweireld who had chased the ball down in the Madrid penalty area, crumpling to the ground, banging the turf in frustration, his hamstring apparently pulled.
On came Moussa Sissoko, with Eric Dier dropping back into the three-man defence, but not before Ronaldo, finally, threatened to sprint through only for Jan Vertonghen to intervene. Would Spurs wobble? Instead they scored.
Harry Winks spread the ball out wide to Kieran Trippier on the right, who had pulled away towards the touchline, and he volleyed first-time across the penalty area with Alli beating Nacho to the ball and sending it into the net.
Trippier appeared to have been in an offside position but the goal stood and the move was also the carbon copy of one minutes earlier - surely a tactic then? - when the full-back's volley, from a Harry Kane chip out to him, had only just evaded Alli who was hovering close to goal.
But Alli was back. This was his first taste of Champions League football this season, having served his three-match ban for his dismissal in the Europa League, and he had responded, gloriously, with a goal just as it had appeared he was struggling to impose himself.
What would be Madrid's response? They had arrived strangely troubled with the surprise defeat at the weekend away to newly-promoted Girona leaving them eight points adrift of Barcelona at the summit of La Liga, sparking talk of crisis, of coach Zinedine Zidane's future being in doubt, and with a raft of injuries and a curious lack of confidence.
Spurs had Kane in their line-up, overcoming his hamstring strain and while he looked to be holding himself in the opening minutes he was soon fending of Sergio Ramos, then forcing his way past Nacho, with first a chip to Christian Eriksen that almost put his team-mate through and then another chip which did not quite have the purchase to beat Real goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
Still those moments - with Kane using his power - fuelled belief. They settled Spurs. They raised the decibels. As did the goal. But Madrid were stung and there was a strong reaction. First Hugo Lloris did well to turn away Casemiro's low shot, then the goalkeeper did even better to get fingertips to a stinging Ronaldo drive and push the ball into the side-netting.
He also collected another low shot while Madrid forced corners, forced the pace - but had to be wary of Kane who almost capitalised with a skimming effort that was held by Casilla who then appeared to be beaten by the striker, after he curled the ball around him, only for it to bounce up off Ramos's knee onto his arm. No penalty.
Madrid threatened, in an astonishingly open encounter, when Karim Benzema ran into the area, turned back inside only for the ball to be blocked by Davinson Sanchez. Soon after and Lloris held Benzema's first-time snap-shot from the area's edge, while on half-time Spurs again demanded a penalty as Alli went over in the area. Once more it was not given.
Madrid were on the ropes. Zidane shifted formation, going to three-at-the-back, to match up with Spurs with Casemiro retreating and Achraf Hakimi and Marcelo pushed up as wing-backs and it was the latter who got in behind Trippier to cross low - only for Dier to calmly take control and clear, just a yard from his own goal.
Madrid were floored again. Again Alli scored, again Ronaldo was shaking his head, with Eriksen cleverly dummying Dier's pass to allow Alli to run at Casemiro who was easily beaten.
Alli feinted, weighed up the shot and fired the ball in with it ricocheting up off Ramos to wrong-foot Casilla and end up in the net. Alli skipped in delight. Madrid's desperation grew and there was an astonishing scramble inside the Spurs area with first Trippier clearing off the goal-line and then Ramos's goal-bound shot striking Ronaldo and eventually being hacked away.
It proved pivotal as Spurs poured forward, first through Alli, sending the ball wide to Kane who played a wonderful reverse pass to Eriksen who held off Luka Modric and lifted the ball over Casilla. What a counter-attack. What a glorious goal.
Alli should have had his hat-trick but glanced his header wide from Trippier's cross but it was Ronaldo who scored, hammering home off Dier from substitute Borja Mayoral's touch back. Suddenly there were nerves; there was an apprehensive hush. As badly as Madrid had played they had that threat. Would, after all, Spurs rue Alli's miss? Not so, they had their famous night.
© Daily Telegraph, London