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Spurs v Dortmund Champions League Match Report

Spurs are in the box seat to go through to the quarter finals of the Champions League after a brilliant 3-0 victory against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. Dortmund were overrun in the second period by a dominant Spurs side who made the Bundesliga leaders seem average. The Spurs goals came from Heung-min Son, Jan Vertonghen and substitute Fernando Llorente.

There were some wonderful performances from Christian Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko but the best came from Jan Vertonghen, who was superb at left wing-back. Spurs must go to Dortmund in three weeks and stand solid in what will be an intimidating atmosphere but Mauricio Pochettino will know that his players have put themselves in pole position to get to the quarter finals.

The Spurs manager made some surprise changes to the Spurs team, with Juan Foyth coming in at centre back as part of a three man defence. Foyth has not appeared for Spurs in the Premier League this calendar year and was left out of Spurs’ Champions League group stage squad, something Pochettino later admitted was a mistake. Elsewhere Serge Aurier came in at right wing back, with Vertonghen starting on the opposite flank, whereas Lucas Moura partnered Heung-min Son up front with Fernando Llorente dropping to the bench.

Vertonghen Stars against Borussia Dortmund

Both sides were missing key players for the big Champions League occasion, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli out for Spurs and top goalscorers Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer out for Dortmund through injury. Their absences were clear in a first period which did not have many clear cut opportunities for either side but was played at a high tempo.

Spurs were the first to go close through Lucas Moura after seven minutes, but his volley went narrowly wide of Roman Burki’s far post. At the other end, eighteen year old England international Jadon Sancho was at the forefront of all of Dortmund’s attacks. An error from the Spurs defence also allowed Christian Pulisic an opportunity to open the scoring but his effort was saved by Hugo Lloris, who looks to be back to his best after some shaky moments this campaign in the Champions League.

The Spurs captain then made another good save to deny Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel, as well as a few minutes later from Thomas Delaney, and it looked like the German side were growing into the game. The Spurs attacking trio of Eriksen, Son and Moura were struggling to find an opening beyond a stubborn defence.

Spurs did improve at the thirty minute mark, with Eriksen having an effort before Heung-min Son went close. Dortmund were thankful to goalkeeper Burki, who cleared a low cross put in from Son away from danger in what was a promising Spurs move.

The final action of the half saw Lloris once again called into action. Juan Foyth did just enough to take the pace off the ball of Dan-Axel Zagadou’s header but the Spurs keeper was still needed to claw the ball away with his body behind the goal-line.

It was not the best display from Spurs and they did not register a single shot on target, however they rectified that after the interval.

Left wing-back Jan Vertonghen was the chief creator after receiving the ball from Eriksen who had won possession in the Dortmund half. Vertonghen whipped in a delightful delivery into the area towards Son. The South Korean placed his shot on the volley into the top corner to notch up another goal against Borussia Dortmund. The nine goals he has achieved against them are the most he has scored against any club in his career.

That early goal in the second period was crucial and Spurs looked like a completely different proposition. Vertonghen was the driving force on the left hand side and almost scored a sensational solo goal. His run past a number of Dortmund players was not matched by a testing shot and his skewed effort instead went over the bar.

Dortmund then had Zagadou to thank at the other end as he thwarted a clear chance for Son moments later. Spurs also went close from the resulting corner but Toby Alderweireld’s near post header did not trouble Burki.

The away side were stunned and failed to get Sancho and captain Mario Gotze into the match. Gotze, who helped Dortmund reach the Champions League final in 2013, failed to have an impact on proceedings whereas even the impressive Sancho had less of an impact after the interval. The closest Dortmund came to getting back into it was from Mahmoud Dahoud, whose shot caused little trouble for Lloris.

Spurs then relaxed for a period until around ten minutes to go when they started to hunt for another goal. A Lucas Moura volley looked like it was going to test Burki but was brilliantly blocked by Delaney as Spurs tried to turn the screw. The second finally came seven minutes from time from the immense Vertonghen. Belgium’s highest capped player got free of his man and was picked out by Serge Aurier and his finish was reminiscent of Harry Kane as his volley gave Burki no chance to react.

The score line was more than adequate for Spurs and Pochettino introduced Fernando Llorente straight after with the intention to hold up the ball and bring his teammates into play more than anything. However just a couple of minutes after coming on, Llorente had put Spurs three nil up.

Once more the assist came from a cross as Eriksen’s corner caused the Dortmund defence all kinds of trouble. Llorente shrugged off his marker and only needed to get a slight touch with his head to give Spurs their third. It was the first goal that Llorente has scored for Spurs after coming on as a substitute.

Dortmund were stunned by that late Spurs surge but could have made the tie interesting right at the death. Substitute Raphael Guerreiro curled a speculative effort just wide, which had Lloris scrambling, but that was the only real reply the visitors gave.

Spurs were compact, pressed high up the pitch and demonstrated their ruthlessness in front of goal which was also on show against Leicester on Sunday. There is still work to do in the next leg, and every player and member of coaching staff will know that, but Spurs have put one foot firmly in the quarter final of the Champions League.

Spurs v Borussia Dortmund Champions League Teams

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What the Managers Said

Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino:

“It was a fantastic second half. The first half was difficult. It was a difficult game from the beginning. It was difficult to find what the best position was in both directions. When we had the ball we struggled to play in the way we wanted to play. The team started to feel comfortable, then we scored. And afterwards we played with more confidence.”

“In the first half we played a little – not nervously – but not with the confidence. The second half was very, very good. We spoke about our defensive positions and changed things a little. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I wanted to take the best decision to perform in the best way. It was a fantastic game.”

“Always when we play this competition and against a good side like Dortmund it is very difficult. There is still work to do. We have a lot of talented players. We have an unbelievable squad. I am happy with all the players. The only problem is that we can only play 11 and not 22.” (BT Sport)

Borussia Dortmund Manager Lucien Favre:

“In the start of the second half we gave it away. When we lost the ball and the cross came straight in and was in the back of the net. It was a gift. After that we tried to play a bit too hastily and it was very, very difficult for us. Sometimes we just had to defend. The second goal we’ve got to move the ball and after the second goal it was harder to hold on to the ball and create chances.” (goal.com)

Spurs v Borussia Dortmund Champions League Man of the Match

The best player on the pitch was undoubtedly Jan Vertonghen. In the pre-match press conference he stated that he felt in the best condition of his career and it looked like it as he put in a scintillating performance at left wing-back. It was only the second time in his Spurs career that he scored and assisted in the same match.

What’s Up Next for Spurs

Spurs have a prolonged break until their next match as they will not be involved in the FA Cup this weekend. Their next game is away against Burnley in the Premier League on 23rd February and after that they will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 27th February. Their next Champions League encounter with Borussia Dortmund is in three weeks.


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