Younger Tottenham fans often hear from their elder brethren about the club’s famous “Glory Nights” of the 1960’s. They are tales of European triumph that only exist now as rusting trophies and old memories. But if today’s game is a sign of things to come, there could be more European glory on the horizon.
Spurs beat the mighty Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley Stadium to clinch qualification to the knockout stage of the Champions League. Those in attendance will never forget the night that their Lilywhites slayed the defending Champions of Europe.
Dele Alli was the star of the evening, as he showed why he is one of the most touted youngsters in world football.
Mauricio Pochettino was able to call on Harry Kane, as the striker made his return from an injury that kept him out against Manchester United. Dele got the start after his European suspension came to an end. Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies featured after both starting on the bench in the away leg.
Real Madrid had quite a few injury absences of their own, with Keylor Navas and Raphael Varane both unavailable despite playing two weeks ago at the Bernabeu.
The visitors were unusually sloppy on the ball and in passing. Tottenham picked their moments to press, and won the ball quite a bit in Real’s half.
Some of the early enthusiasm at Wembley was dampened in the 23rd minute when Toby Alderweireld pulled up with a hamstring injury. Toby made a run forward, but eventually stopped and grabbed the back of his leg. He was replaced by Moussa Sissoko, which pushed Eric Dier back into central defense.
But as things turned out, Wembley would erupt just a few minutes later. Dele marked his return to European competition with a goal, as he turned in a brilliant first-time cross from Trippier. Harry Winks played a big part in the goal with his long pass out wide to Trips, who actually appeared to be offside.
Madrid responded aggressively to Spurs going ahead. They upped their tempo, and seemed to finally be getting a feeling for the game.
Isco found space a couple times, and so did Cristiano Ronaldo. In the 33rd minute a cross found him in the center of the box, but he could only hit it right at Hugo Lloris.
The Spaniards threatened going forward, but remained open at the back. Trippier played the role of creator once more as he danced through two Madrid defenders and played a threatening ball across the box. Sissoko whiffed, and Kane’s shot was blocked by Ramos in an act of desperation.
At halftime it was 1-0, and Spurs could’ve even been up by more.
Los Blancos came out firing after the interval, but Spurs struck a second blow just ten minutes into the new half. Again it was Dele Alli, who capitalized on poor Madrid defending with a deflected shot that found its way past Kiko Casilla.
Real responded to going 2-0 down by turning up the pressure even more. Spurs looked set to concede in the 62nd minute, as a corner dangerously bounced around their box. Davies cleared a deflection off the line, and then Ronaldo accidentally blocked a stinging shot coming in from Ramos at point-blank range.
Then came the back-breaker. Madrid were trying to find a way into Spurs’ penalty box, but Jan Vertonghen stood tall as he did all night. Tottenham countered, and Kane eventually squared a ball across to an open Christian Eriksen, who slid the ball past Casilla.
Spurs were flying, and well on their way to a historic victory.
Zinedine Zidane’s side began to really through everything forward, and they did get one goal back for their troubles. Ronaldo pounced on a loose ball and took away Lloris’ clean-sheet.
But the late consolation was never going to rain on Tottenham’s parade. The match finished 3-1, meaning Spurs had secured qualification for the next round with two games still to spare in Group H.
It was a glorious night at Wembley, one that will live on as one of the greatest in the history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.