UEFA: Sensational Spurs put three past Real Madrid to reach last 16
Tottenham secured qualification for the Champions League knockout phase with an outstanding display to beat holders Real Madrid on a memorable night at Wembley.
Spurs, with striker Harry Kane fit again after a hamstring injury, showed intensity and quality to make their mark on the Champions League after going out at the group stage last season.
Dele Alli gave Spurs the lead after 27 minutes when he turned in Kieran Trippier’s cross from close range, then doubled the advantage early in the second half with a shot that took a deflection off Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
Christian Eriksen provided a cool finish from Kane’s pass for the third and even though Cristiano Ronaldo pulled one back for Real with 10 minutes left, it was too little, too late, as Spurs made a powerful statement about their European aspirations
Alli back to his best
Alli has fallen just short of his very best this season – but against the Champions League holders, he produced a display to savour.
The 21-year-old is bound to suffer peaks and troughs at this early stage in his career and he has received unfavourable headlines this season. He was criticised for a dive as Spurs won at Huddersfield in September, and was involved in a well-chronicled spat with Ashley Young during Saturday’s defeat at Manchester United.
Alli also served a one-match international suspension following a gesture he made during England’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia at Wembley.
However, it was all good news on this night, as he strolled majestically through midfield – no doubt impressing the watching Real Madrid hierarchy who have followed his rise at Spurs with interest.
Alli was the poacher as he stole in on Trippier’s cross for his first goal – and while his second owed much to a heavy deflection off Ramos, it was reward for another surging run at the heart of the Real Madrid defence.
The only blot on his night was when he headed wide of an open goal when a hat-trick looked certain, but it was a minor blemish.
England manager Gareth Southgate was an interested spectator at Wembley and he will have been delighted to see Alli in such form, as well as Kane back from injury, as he prepares for testing friendlies against Germany and Brazil in November.
Pochettino’s reputation grows again
Mauricio Pochettino’s name was sung loud and long at Wembley as his exciting Spurs side played in the manner that has become the Argentine’s trademark.
Real Madrid were on the receiving end of a performance in pressing intensity, pace and power as Tottenham’s manager conducted affairs, standing yards from counterpart Zinedine Zidane on the touchline.
Pochettino has yet to bring silverware to Spurs since his appointment in May 2014 but there can be no denying the progress they have made, nor the regard in which he is held by his squad.
He received plaudits when Spurs earned an excellent draw at the Bernabeu on 17 October. The manner of their win here had his imprint all across it.
Spurs may be waiting to cross that bridge to winning a trophy but this is a team and manager on an upward trajectory, as Real Madrid have discovered.
Spurs at home on the big stage
The scenes of elation that swept around Wembley at the final whistle proved how far Tottenham have come in a year – and how they can sit comfortably alongside the Champions League elite.
It was a sharp contrast to last season, when Spurs failed to advance from the group stage after defeats by Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley, and were then knocked out of the Europa League in the last 32 by Gent.
This was a Tottenham team at ease against the best. It is too early to speculate just how far they can go, but in this mood, Spurs can pose a threat to any team.