With Barcelona already safely through to the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League, it was Spurs who needed a win to join them. Also, any result better or equal to that of Inter Milan would also see the North London side through to the knockout stages. Some early good news for Spurs was Luis Suarez not playing and Lionel Messiwas starting the game from the bench.
Miracle for Spurs as They Go Through
The one thing that Mauricio Pochettino will have told his players before this game was to stay calm and not concede early. On eight minutes, Spurs did exactly that and, as so often in this season’s Champion’s League campaign, it was another error that led to Barcelona taking the lead. Kyle Walker-Peters, fresh from signing a new contract, had attacked down the right and won Spurs a free-kick. Christian Eriksen didn’t deliver and the ball fell to Walker-Peters. He tried to be too clever and, with Ousmane Dembele, you cannot do that. Dembele destroyed Walker-Peters for pace, was cool in the box and slid the ball home under Hugo Lloris to give Tottenham an even bigger mountain to climb.
First Half – Spurs Create Chances
Walker-Peters didn’t go into hiding after his error and was available to collect the ball and went on some good forward forays. Spurs were not being helped by the ‘theatrics’ of some of the Barca players. Miranda went down like he had been shot despite Son Heung-min hardly touching him. Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen scythed down Eriksen and his studs were high. He was lucky to escape any sort of card and it could have been red. Walker-Peters got forward and played the ball to Eriksen who found Danny Rose, who up to this point had looked off the pace, zipped a ball across the box but Son just couldn’t quite get on the end of it.
Then, on 32 minutes, Son had the chance of the half for Tottenham. He got free and tried to slide the ball under Jasper Cillessen but the keeper kept it out. It was a huge moment for Spurs.
Spurs then had a real scare on 45 minutes when Philippe Coutinho danced through the Spurs defence only to see his shot hit the left hand post and, at half-time, Spurs were still in the tie. PSV were in the lead in Italy against Inter and at half-time, meaning Spurs were going through as it stood.
Spurs Dominate Second Half to Pull Off Miracle
The half-time team talk from Pochettino must simply have been ‘attack, attack, attack.’
His players listened. Four minutes into the second period and Harry Kane got free on the left and found Eriksen in the box. He couldn’t quite get his feet sorted out and the ball fell to Dele Alli, whose shot was blocked. Just a few moments later and Kane was through on goal only to fire high and wide. There was a suggestion of a slight push but he should have scored. It was looking like Spurs might rue missed chances against the Catalan giants.
At the other end, it was Coutinho who was pulling the Barcelona strings and he looked destined to score before a superb block from Walker-Peters. Cillessen again denied Son as Spurs dominated at the Nou Camp.
Erik Lamela came on for Walker-Peters and Lucas Moura for Son as Pochettino threw everything at Barca. Moura went close with a header but once more Cillessen frustrated Tottenham. Moura was then brought down by Semedo who pulled the strikers shorts but nothing was given.
Couthinho went close again as he struck Lloris’ left post once more but that was about as much as Barca managed in the second half.
Then on 85 minutes Kane again found space and played in Moura who scored to level the tie. As the referee blew the final whistle, the players and fans waited for news from Milan and when it arrived that PSV had held Inter to a draw, Tottenham Hotspur had pulled off the unthinkable.
Spurs Go Marching On
After three games it looked like this season’s Champions League journey for Spurs was going to be over quickly. But they have shown bottle, fight and, tonight, they dominated Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Although Barca had made changes, not many teams will go there and play as well as Spurs did.
Tottenham are through and their Champions League dreams are alive.