A three-goal advantage seems safe on paper, but nothing is certain with Tottenham Hotspur.
Still, despite past issues maintaining leads in big games, Spurs got the job done against Dortmund on Wednesday night in Germany. The visitors added a goal to their 3-0 scoreline from the first leg to win 4-0 on aggregate and to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals for the second time in club history.
Tottenham responded to a dominant Dortmund first half with a goal from Harry Kane early in the second period.
Mauricio Pochettino opted for a strong lineup despite his team’s sizable advantage. It was the same group that started Saturday’s North London Derby, except Serge Aurier came in for Kieran Trippier, Ben Davies came in for Danny Rose, and Harry Winks came in for Victor Wanyama. Winks had missed the Arsenal match with a minor hip issue, and Eric Dier returned to the bench after missing time due to tonsillitis.
Marco Reus returned for Dortmund after missing the first leg with an injury. Lucien Favre chose an attacking-minded team that also included Jadon Sancho, Paco Alcácer, Mario Götze, and Axel Witsel. Marius Wolf is a winger, but was forced to start at right back due to the absence of Lukasz Piszczek.
Spurs were anxious in the early period of the game. The visitors struggled to get out of their own end as Dortmund dominated possession with a relentless bit of pressing.
The first real alarm bell rang when Reus got through after a long ball beat Sanchez. Jan Vertonghen was there to slide in and save the day with a last second tackle.
Reus threatened again on 20 minutes. The German’s low shot was deflected off Sanchez, but Hugo Lloris stayed back, and on his feet, to readjust and save the ricochet.
Spurs had their only chance of the first half a few minutes later. Son Heung-Min has a tremendous goal-scoring record against Dortmund, but he couldn’t find the net after beating the home side’s high line to have a one-on-one with Roman Burki. Wolf put Sonny off with a slight push.
BVB responded with a ferocious sequence of chances based around corner kicks.
The first effort came from a re-entry ball played by Reus following a corner. Julian Weigl got a head on it at close range, Lloris pushed it away, and Davies got his body in front of Weigl’s attempt at the rebound.
Hugo made another stunning save just moments later. Gotze tried a curler, that was clearly going in, but Lloris reached back and slapped the ball away using only his left hand. The Westfalenstadion gasped with disbelief that their team hadn’t scored.
Spurs had successfully made it to halftime without taking any damage, in large part because of Lloris.
The second half initially looked like it would be like the first. Dortmund had a dangerous ball go across the face of goal in the opening seconds.
But then Tottenham struck a killer blow when they made the most out of some precious time on the ball.
Possession eventually came to Sissoko via a deflection, and he played a pass first-time to Harry Kane, who had found a large gap between the Dortmund defenders. Kane turned around and calmly placed a shot past the advancing Burki.
Spurs’ away goal effectively put the tie out of reach, as it meant that the Bundesliga side would have to score five goals in response to go through.
Winks has only just returned from an ailment, so Pochettino chose to replace him with Dier in the 55th minute.
The game died after that. The atmosphere in the stadium fell a bit flat, and both managers began to make changes as their teams inevitably started to look ahead. Dortmund were still pushing, but there wasn’t any sense that they could really turn the game around, even if they did manage to score.
Son was given a break to allow Erik Lamela to enter the game, and then Christian Eriksen made way for Danny Rose with ten minutes remaining. BVB showed that they had thrown in the towel when Thomas Delaney came on for Reus midway through the half.
The Spurs fans then had their turn at being the loudest supporters in the stadium. They sang as their club calmly saw out the tie to the final whistle.
Gareth Bale, Rafael Van der Vaart, and Luka Modric were still playing in North London the only other time Spurs made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. On that occasion, Tottenham were bounced 5-0 on aggregate by Real Madrid after losing the first leg 4-0 in Spain.
The draw for the quarterfinals will take place on March 15. This round has no seeding or country protection, meaning Spurs can play any of the other seven teams still involved in the competition.