Monday 21 October 2019

Kane rediscovers touch as Spurs go marching through

B Dortmund 1 Tottenham 2

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring Tottenham's first goal. Photo: Reuters
Harry Kane celebrates after scoring Tottenham's first goal. Photo: Reuters

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Tottenham Hotspur completed an achievement no-one gave them the slightest chance of doing last night, winning their Champions League group with one game left to spare.

They beat Borussia Dortmund for the second time in Group H, which, combined with the four points they took from Real Madrid, means that they cannot be caught - with their easiest game (Apoel Nicosia at Wembley) left to play.

It is the ultimate sign of how far Spurs are still improving and learning in this, the fourth year of Mauricio Pochettino's management of the club.

Spurs went behind to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's first-half goal, but they came back hard in the second half.

Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro in action with Tottenham's Serge Aurier. Photo: Reuters
Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro in action with Tottenham's Serge Aurier. Photo: Reuters

Harry Kane equalised with a trademark finish before Heung-Min Son put the winner into the top corner. Both goals were assisted by Dele Alli, the second with real quality.

It is the Premier League, not Europe, where Spurs must focus now but they can be proud of the fact that, when the last-16 draw is made on December 11, they will be among the seeds.

Given how poor they looked in Europe last year, that is quite something.

The reward for doing so well in their first four games was that all the pressure was taken off what looked, when the draw was made, like that night would decide Spurs' group stage progress.

This gave Pochettino the freedom to rest and rotate here, but he decided to stick with the big names who looked undercooked at Arsenal last Saturday and Christian Eriksen, Alli and Kane all started.

Dortmund, who have taken only one point from their last five Bundesliga games, had to anxiously ease their way into the game.

Tottenham's Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring his side's winning goal. Photo: AP
Tottenham's Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring his side's winning goal. Photo: AP

But when they did so, Peter Bosz's side showed why they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Andriy Yarmolenko and Aubameyang is a fearsome combination in the front line, even without the injured Christian Pulisic.

First Yarmolenko tested Hugo Lloris from the edge of the box, then Aubameyang raced onto a through ball, beating the offside trap, but stabbing his finish just wide.

Spurs had been warned but there was nothing they could do to stop the opening goal on 30 minutes.

Raphael Guerreiro darted a pass to Yarmolenko. He back-heeled the ball into Aubameyang's path as he ran in behind the defence and, before Lloris could react, it was in the net.

Spurs, with Kane and Son up front, were trying to go long but could not find their range for their direct game.

It was only in the final few minutes of the half that they tested Roman Burki - first with an Eriksen shot from a Danny Rose cross, then an Eric Dier header from a corner.

They needed to be more precise and who better to provide it than the most precise finisher in the game?

Spurs were level just four minutes into the second half. Alli cut in from the left and rolled a pass to Kane, loitering just outside the Dortmund box.

He got the ball out from his feet and stroked it into the near bottom corner, his signature finish.

Drought

It was his first Spurs goal for a month - a drought by his special standards.

The draw was no use to either side, though, and the game only opened further.

Alli waited just too long before sliding a pass through to Son. A wonderful team move ended with Rose, still lacking match sharpness, mis-timing a cross.

Spurs continued to push and their tirelessness was rewarded with the winner, 14 minutes from the end.

Alli has a gift for making things happen from nowhere and he wriggled through two tackles, holding off Marc Bartra as he made his way into the box.

Swarmed by defenders, Alli still found Son just inside the box. His first touch controlled the ball, his second put it in the top corner.

Spurs nearly had a third soon after when Rose's cross from the left found Eriksen, who could not quite head on target.

Tottenham could have had a third with two minutes left when Fernando Llorente, on as a sub, was through on goal but could not control the ball and accidentally clattered Dortmund keeper Burki instead. (© Independent News Service)

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