UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP B
WEDNESDAY 28TH NOVEMBER, 2018
(8pm – at Wembley)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) FC INTERNAZIONALE MILANO 0(0)
Scorer:- Eriksen, 80
Referee:- Cüneyt Çakir (TUR)
Assistants:- Bahattin Duran (TUR) & Tarik Ongun (TUR)
Additional assistants:- Hüseyin Göçek (TUR) & Baris Simsek (TUR)
Fourth official:- Mustafa Eyisoy (TUR)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Sissoko, Winks (sub Dier, 87); Lamela (sub Eriksen, 70), Dele, Lucas Moura (sub Son, 62); Kane
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Rose, Walker-Peters; Llorente
Booked:- Alderweireld (foul on Icardi), Lamela (foul on Brozovic), Son (foul on Brozovic)
Inter (4-2-3-1):- Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij (sub Miranda, 82), Skriniar, Asamoah; Vecino, Brozovic; Politano (sub Balde, 83), Nainggolan (sub Valero, 44), Perisic; Icardi (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Padelli; Ranocchia; Candreva; Martinez
Booked:- De Vrij (foul on Lamela), Valero (foul on Vertonghen)
Spurs’ Champions League hopes are still alive!
Spurs’ qualification for the Champions League Round of 16 is still in their hands thanks to the powerful surge of man of the match Moussa Sissoko into the Inter penalty area; his pass; Dele Alli’s touch; and substitute Christian Eriksen’s finish! Never mind for the moment that our remaining game in Group B is away to Barcelona. This win puts us above Inter – also on 7 points – because of our superior head to head record. Having lost 2-1 away and won 1-0 at home, our away goal gives us the edge. Now we have to match Inter’s result when they play PSV at home on Tuesday 11th December.
Spurs had to win last night. Inter’s game-plan seemed to be one that concentrated on defence, hoping to get at least a point that would have ensured they and not Spurs secured one of the top two places. The Italian side also looked dangerous on the counter and there was always a chance they would snatch a goal, of course. Spurs worked hard for the win, and did forge a number of chances, the closest of which was when Harry Winks hit the bar in the first half. Mauricio Pochettino had started with the fresh legs of Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura, but it wasn’t until they were replaced by Eriksen and Son respectively that we were able to break the deadlock and get that oh so vital win.
Jan Vertonghen played his first game since his injury at Huddersfield at the end of September, and it was as if he had never been away, looking as composed and settled as ever. His return meant that Toby Alderweireld was able to revert to his natural right side of central defence.
It had been a very wet and windy day, but the weather had settled down by the evening, and the temperature was mild for the time of year. Inter kicked off, playing towards the West Stand – away from their full contingent of fans. Dele Alli played behind Kane whilst Lamela and Lucas Moura were generally right and left respectively. Erik was the chief corner kicker and took one from the left after 4 minutes. This reached Harry Winks out on the right, and was returned to the middle where a looping header by Alderweireld was easy for Handanovic in goal. A long clearance by Lloris after 6 minutes led to a Spurs throw-in deep in Inter territory on the left, taken by Lucas Moura. Kane took the ball on, and into the left side of the area until he finally hit a shot which beat the goalkeeper but rebounded into play off the outside of the near post. Sissoko passed inside to Winks in the Spurs half and Lucas Moura took Winks’ ball into the box where he went down under challenge from two Inter defenders, but had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Cuneyt Cakir.
Jan Vertonghen carried the ball forward after 11 minutes and fed it to Kane, passing to Dele, whose right foot shot passed over the bar. Kane was stopped in his tracks as he advanced down the left flank near the half way line by Brozovic, but referee Cakir chose to have words only for an offence which was greater than some which saw cards issued to Spurs players later in the game. Both Vertonghen and Sissoko won determined battles for the ball near the half-way line enabling Lamela to make a run towards goal before hitting a shot just wide of the keeper’s left post. Spurs then had a free kick some way out which Lamela hit very wide of the goal.
Toby Alderweireld “took one for the team” when he was deservedly shown yellow for halting Icardi’s breaking run. Sissoko brought the ball out of the Spurs half with a surging run, before it was crossed into the path of Lucas Moura, whose shot was held by Handanovic. Both Winks and Sissoko had shots blocked by the resolute Inter defence, before after 37 minutes and a good Spurs build up, Winks’ shot from 22 yards hit the top of the bar. Lucas Moura and Kane combined to win a Spurs corner, from which Lucas Moura’s header was held. Inter coach Luciano Spalletti withdrew Nainggolan for Valero before the interval. Aurier defended well against Valero inside the Spurs area in added time.
Early in the second half de Vrij was strong to end Kane’s run into the Inter area. Sissoko and Lamela combined to give Kane another chance after 50 minutes. Harry opted for an early right foot shot which was comfortably held by Handanovic. Spurs were on top, but Inter continued to defend well. After two Spurs corners, a shot by Winks was closer (very close) to the corner flag than the goal. Spurs had another corner after 59 minutes, and Vertonghen’s header just passed the back post, with Kane struggling to reach it.
Lucas Moura was the first Spurs player to make way, and it was Son who came on, looking very zippy. His first opportunity was called offside, but with his next touch inside the area on the left, he forced a corner. Five minutes later Son and Lamela were involved on the right of the area. Erik’s cross was pulled back by Ben Davies for Dele, who fired wide. Erik Lamela, who wore a prominent plaster on his forehead for much of the game was the victim when De Vrij was booked. Erik then made way for Eriksen, who took the free kick which was headed the wrong side of the post, into the side netting, by Jan Vertonghen at the back post.
Lloris made a good save at his right-hand post as Perisic advanced upon his goal. Five minutes later, Spurs made the decisive break-through. Sissoko picked up Aurier’s short pass towards the right flank and powered forward all the way into the area, passing to Dele to his left. Dele spotted Eriksen’s advance and laid the ball into his path for the decisive left foot finish. It was Eriksen’s first goal since the matchday One clash in the San Siro, and could be Spurs’ most important goal this side of Christmas.
Inter now had to come forward. Lloris dived to his right and punched clear a shot by D’Ambrosio, but that was the closest the Italians came to scoring. Mauricio brought on Eric Dier for the last few minutes, and apart from the return of Vertonghen for Foyth, Spurs ended the game with the team that had started against Chelsea last Saturday. That could be the team which starts next Sunday’s North London Derby.
Spurs’ chances of finishing second are still slim, to be honest. Whilst Barcelona will have nothing to play for, that also applies to Inter’s opponents PSV, who also have nothing to play for but pride. Barcelona will play Mauricio’s old team Espanyol before our game, so maybe they can do Spurs a bit of a favour. Like it or not (most do not) but we are guaranteed European football in the New Year, as we cannot finish lower than third, which would mean Europa League. Of course, we are all hoping for a result in the Camp Nou that keeps us in the Blue Riband event. I’ll be there!
Group B Table
P W D L F-A GD PTS
1. Barcelona 5 4 1 0 13-4 9 13
2. Spurs 5 2 1 2 8-9 -1 7
3. Inter 5 2 1 2 5-6 -1 7
4. PSV 5 0 1 4 5-12 -7 1