Tottenham Hotspur put the Wembley hoodoo to rest – for now, at least – with a thrilling 3-1 Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund Wednesday night. It was a vital three points for Spurs in a Champions League group that will likely see one of these two sides miss out on advancing to the knockout stage of the tournament.
Spurs shot out of the blocks quickly with a terrific solo effort from Son Heung-Min. The move started with a Davinson Sanchez interception, followed some quick combination passing in midfield before Kane played Son through. Dortumund goalkeeper Roman Burki was beaten to his near post, but Spurs had two runners coming into the box that likely caught his eye.
Dortmund responded strongly though, immediately taking control of the tempo of the match through their pressing and precise ball circulation. The equalizer looked like it was on, and Andriy Yarmolenko made sure it was with a beautiful curling effort from outsode the box into the top left corner. A sprawling Lloris didn’t even come close to saving it.
Dortmund more or less stayed in control through long durations of the first half. Oh, except for a brief moment in the 15th minute when Kane was able to turn and physically abuse a Dortmund defender, carry the ball down the left side and beat Burki to his near post again. In a way, the goal was a perfect encapsulation of everything that is Harry Kane – not the most aesthetically pleasing, but ruthlessly efficient nonetheless.
The half finished with Spurs fans’ hearts in mouths as the ball bounced and bounced and bounced and bounced around in the mixer. We’re talking bodies and limbs all over the shop. It ended with Pulisic slotting home past Lloris, but thankfully for Spurs, the linesman raised his flag and decided someone was offside. No goal.
Spurs carried a 2-1 lead into halftime at Wembley. And nearly extended their advantage withing the first five minutes of the second half. Harry Kane found himself in space on the right side of the box with Son in acres of space in the middle, but Kane shot and fired high. A very similar situation ensued moments later, and this time kane decided to pick out Son. The pass forced Son to stop his run though, and he also fired high after the ball was stuck under his feet.
In the 55th minute, Dortmund and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were denied a goal to an offiside call. It was a bad decision from the linesman though, as while there were indeed BVB players offside, Auba wasn’t one of them.
Spurs took advantage of the lifeline four minutes later through Harry Kane’s second goal of the game. Eriksen found Kane in tons of space on the left side of the box on what was clearly a defensive mishap from Dortumund. Kane finished in the classic Kane way, with a low strike skimming across the grass, nestling into the side netting just inside the post.
Spurs continued to assert themselves into the second half, with Ben Davies helping fashion a couple of chances just after the hour mark. Christian Eriksen became a more influential figure as well, finding himself with much more time on the ball in the second half compared to the first.
Lloris did well to deny Aubameyang with his feet in the 70th minute off a corner kick. It was a chance for Dortmund that could’ve turned the momentum at a very inopportune time with 20 minutes left to play.
But with Dortmund opening up and pushing forward, Spurs continued to open up the German side and create great scoring chances, albeit with little end product.
Pochettino left his substitutions very late, as Moussa Sissoko was the first player off the bench in the 83rd minute, replacing Son. Minutes later, we saw another Spurs debutant enter the game though Fernando Llorente in the 87th minute.
In a shocking event, Jan Vertonghen was sent off by Italian ref Gianluca Rocchi after a flailing arm caught Mario Goetze in the face. It was a straight red card for the Belgian center back, who was already on a yellow card.
Spurs will need to manage with Jan Vertonghen’s suspension as the Champions League campaign continues, but for now it’s all smiles in North London.
- Spurs seemed to have a very different tactical plan, largely focused on sitting back and countering quickly instead of pressing and possessing the ball.
- Davinson Sanchez started well, but his decisions and decisiveness seemed to deteriorate as the game progressed.
- Spurs debutant Serge Aurier was pretty quiet for the most part. He had some shaky moments, but he looks like someone Pochettino can sprinkle his fullback fairy dust on.
- I’m not so sure we missed Dele Alli today, aside from having him as an option off the bench. Son Heung-Min was the perfect compliment for Kane, and his pace and directness was just what Spurs needed to play on the break.
- Spurs defended unusually deep for much of the game. Personally, I think it was to limit the space Aubameyand and Pulisic had to run into, but it could’ve also been part of a different tactic Pochettino is trying to employ on the Wembley pitch.
- Son Heung-Min had one of his better matches in a Spurs shirt. He was oftentimes the player breaking the offside trap and running into space. He was a threat all night.
- We can call the Wembley curse officially dead, right? K, cool.