Tottenham Hotspur recovered from going a goal behind to snatch a late 2-1 win against Olympique Marseille at the Stade Velodrome to secure their passage into the Champions League knockout stages as group winners.
Igor Tudor’s Marseille side knew that they had to win to stand any chance of securing their qualification into the last 16. As for Spurs, who started the final matchday top of Group D, they needed to avoid defeat to progress.
The hosts were the side to impose themselves on the game during the first-half. They continuously looked threatening in the final third whilst Spurs, predictably, sat back.
Then with 23 minutes on the clock, the visitors were dealt a severe blow as Son Heung-min was caught up in a heavy clash with Chancel Mbemba in an aerial duel. The South Korean, who was visibly very groggy, had to be led off the pitch shortly afterwards and was replaced by Yves Bissouma.
Seven minutes of stoppage time were duly added at the end of the first-half, and Marseille capitalised on that to take the lead. Mbemba rose highest in the box to plant a bullet header past Hugo Lloris from a Jordan Veretout cross.
That kicked Spurs into gear in the second half, and within ten minutes of the restart, they were back on level terms.
Clement Lenglet headed in Ivan Perisic’s wide free-kick from the left, and just like that, Tottenham moved back into the top two spots in the group.
Then deep into added-on time after seeing Sead Kolasinac head wide for the hosts, Spurs punished Marseille on the counter-attack to seal a dramatic winner as Harry Kane fed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who dispatched a powerful strike past Pau Lopez to seal top spot in Group D and break the hearts of the home fans.
TALKING POINT – TOTTENHAM GO THROUGH AS GROUP WINNERS, BUT ONLY JUST
That was a rollercoaster of a match, and once again a Champions League night under the lights delivered in more ways than anyone could have imagined – especially if you are a Spurs supporter.
After a lacklustre first half, in which Spurs were unable to have a touch of the ball in Marseille’s final third, it was all change in the second. Conte’s side often respond when their backs are against the wall, and it was no different this time as they found an equaliser within ten minutes of the second period. From there on in, Tottenham were the side in the ascendancy.
All the while, the Spurs bench had to keep one eye on the other match in Group D, as the result of Sporting’s game at home to Eintracht Frankfurt would also shape the order of the group standings. Many times during the night it fluctuated, but Spurs had it in their own hands. They went into added time knowing that Frankfurt had won 2-1 in Lisbon and were top of the group, but that all changed as Hojbjerg became the match-winner for Tottenham to secure first place.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – IVAN PERISIC
The Croatian, who once again was deployed at left-wing back, had a match that went slightly under the radar in a lot of ways. With the whole Spurs side sub-par in the opening 45 minutes, Perisic was one of the players on the pitch to really step it up in the second period, with his set-piece deliveries proving to be very dangerous.
One of them led to Tottenham’s equaliser as his left-sided free-kick was right on the money, which saw Lenglet steer it home with a glancing header. In total, Perisic won three aerial duels, completed one successful dribble, registered an assist and won four tackles.
Olympique de Marseille: Lopez 6, Mbemba 7, Bailly 5, Balerdi 6, Clauss 6, Rongier 7, Veretout 8, Tavares 6, Guendouzi 6, Harit 6, Sanchez 6. Subs: Under 6, Gigot 6, Suarez 6, Kabore 6, Kolasinac 6.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris 7, Dier 6, Lenglet 7, Davies 6, Sessegnon 5, Hojbjerg 6, Bentancur 7, Perisic 8, Son 6, Moura 6, Kane 7. Subs: Skipp 6, Emerson 6, Gil 6, Bissouma 6.
23’ – SON CANNOT CONTINUE – Son goes down after a painful clash with Mbemba in a 50/50 challenge. He cannot continue, and as he is led off the pitch by one of the medical staff. He looks very groggy, and is holding the side of his head. He is also struggling to walk straight. There is no doubt that this is the correct call. Let’s hope the injury is not too serious and he is able to recover quickly.
45+2’ – GOAL! (Chancel Mbemba) – The Velodrome erupts as the home side have a deserved lead just before half-time! Chancel Mbemba rises highest to place a bullet header into the back of the net from inside the area from Veretout’s cross! As it now stands, Marseille are going through, and Spurs are going out!
54’ – GOAL! (Clement Lenglet) – The visitors have a priceless equaliser! A wide free-kick from the left by Perisic is whipped into the danger area, and Lenglet is the unlikely hero as he flicks a header into the back of the net past Lopez!
80’ – OFF THE BAR! – What a let-off for Marseille! Hojbjerg’s fizzing shot from the edge of the area cracks against the top of the crossbar and bounces back out!
87’ – WHAT A MISS! – What a chance for Kolasinac! He latches onto a cross at the back post, but with the goal gaping, he sends his header wide of the target! Was that the chance for Marseille?
90+4’ – GOAL! (Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg) – Tottenham have won it with a clinical counter attack! Hojbjerg is in acres of space after being fed in by Kane, and the Dane smashes a brilliant strike into the roof of the net! Spurs are into the knockouts!