Tottenham finished a disappointing Champions League campaign with a 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, securing third place in their group and a place in the Europa League.
Spurs fielded an extremely strong side, because rotation is clearly not a word in Pochettino’s vocabulary. There was just one change to the team that trounced Swansea 5-0 on Saturday as Harry Winks came into the XI, while Toby Alderweireld also returned to the squad after ten games out with a leg injury.
Tottenham started well and had the first chance of the game. Kyle Walker played Christian Eriksen in on the right side — his volleyed cross found Dele Alli unmarked in the box, but the midfielder could only steer his header just wide.
Eriksen was in the thick of the action again soon after. Harry Kane slid him in behind the defense, but Igor Akinfeev got down smartly to save the Dane’s effort.
Tottenham continued to dominate proceedings and Eriksen was at the center of much of their positive play. He played creator again just before the half-hour mark, lobbing a ball over the backline, but Alli could only manage a weak effort straight at the defender.
In keeping with Tottenham’s string of good luck in Champions League games at Wembley, CSKA scored on their first attack of the game. Zoran Tošić ran onto a hopeful long ball, then nodded the ball down to Alan Dzagoev, who calmly slid the ball past Hugo Lloris to take the lead against the run of play.
The lead didn’t last long though. Eriksen was again at the heart of the move, sending a beautiful cross in to Alli, who took a touch past his defender before curling home the equalizer. There was a possible (actually definite) offside in the build-up but we’ll take it.
It got even better for Spurs right before the half. Eriksen played Danny Rose in on the left — he squared across the six-yard box, where Kane tapped in to an open net. Again, Rose was possibly (actually definitely) offside in the build-up, but again, we’ll take it.
The second half started slowly, with neither side creating much. Around the hour-mark Walker was set free after some good work by Eriksen (a trend is emerging here...). His cross found Kane unmarked in front of goal, but he could only head agonizingly over.
Alderweireld came on to much applause with about 20 minutes to go. He slotted in at the back, with Eric Dier moving up into midfield. It’ll be really nice to have that lineup back in our lives.
As they attempted to close out the game, Spurs grabbed a third goal to put a nice exclamation point on the win. Kane’s cross found Alli in the six-yard box for a wide-open header. Akinfeev got a hand on the ball, then in his attempt to corral the rebound managed to kick it into the back of the net.
The win wrapped up third place in the group for Tottenham and a spot in the Europa League. They will be seeded after finishing as one of the top four third-placed teams, so should hopefully have a relatively favorable matchup.
- Obviously not progressing from the group is very disappointing. Looking for a silver lining, we’ll be one of the strongest sides in the Europa League and could seal qualification to next year’s Champions League by winning that.
- Igor Akinfeev has now gone a record 43 Champions League games without a clean sheet — all the way back to a 0-0 with Arsenal in 2006. That streak is impressive in its futility.
- Can you imagine thinking Eriksen isn’t world class?
- Dele was a bit of a tit tonight and definitely got on the CSKA players’ nerves a few times. If he didn’t play for Spurs there’s a good chance I would thoroughly dislike him but he does play for Spurs so I love him keep it up Dele!
- Winksy had another good game, which is encouraging. If he can become a legitimate backup to Dembélé that would be extremely useful.
- The announced attendance was 62,034, which is pretty impressive for a match that was largely meaningless.
- One-season wonder Harry Kane has now scored nine goals in his last nine games.