Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Inter Milan
There are usually plenty of goals when these sides meet.
And with qualification from Group B on the line, this renewal of acquaintances promised to deliver some of the Champions League 2018 highlights.
Just a matter of weeks after many of the Champions League 2018 betting odds had Mauricio Pochettino’s side dead and buried, a last-gasp victory over PSV Eindhoven got them believing again.
However, the position was still against Spurs and anything but victory in the final day would see them drop out of the Champions League.
Highlights of the game
us fans had some surprising team news to digest.
After their dominant dismissal of Chelsea, the return of Jan Vertonghen was a boost—the loss of Christian Eriksen (to the substitutes bench) potentially a major blow for the hosts.
Inter boss Luciano Spalletti made four changes to his line-up with Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Matias Vecino and Mauro Icardi all returning.
Given Inter, the last Italian team to win the UEFA Champions League (2010), only needed a point, we may have expected a classic Italian defensive display.
However, this was not the case even if they were on the backfoot as Spurs started on fire.
Harry Kane was kept out by a combination of post and goalkeeper Samir Handanovic before the Englishman played in his teammate Dele Alli whose shot grazed the crossbar.
The passage of play in the early stages suggested Inter were content to let Spurs have possession. They try to catch them on the counter though, with the in-form Mauro Icardi—a popular figure in the dressing room—threatening at one point and was only caught by Toby Alderweireld.
If Spurs thought they were third time lucky, they were wrong. Promising young midfielder Harry Winks kept his balance and fired in a shot which bounced back off the bar.
Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan was clearly struggling, so it was no surprise when he was replaced just before the break.
The start of the second half was as lively as the opening period, but it was not one-way this time around.
Inter seemed to be building momentum and a Matteo Politano free-kick under the wall had to be superbly blocked by Ben Davies.
Then Vertonghen headed narrowly wide at the back post as the contest switched from one end to the other.
Eriksen had now entered the fray to try and probe a winner for Spurs, themselves wary of the threat of Inter who have scored 10 of their 25 league goals this season in the final 15 minutes.
Hugo Lloris kept out Perisic’s shot from a tight angle when a visiting goal would surely have deflated the north Londoners.
With 10 minutes remaining, it seemed the late show from September had come back to haunt Spurs. But then came the goal the majority inside Wembley craved.
Moussa Sissoko burst down the right, Ali expertly flicked the ball on and there was Eriksen to smash it into the roof of the net.
Every result Inter have earned in the Champions League this season has come after conceding the opener, and they were far from deterred as Lloris was called into action again to deny Danilo D’Ambrosio.
But this time, there was to be no fightback and Spurs will now go to Barcelona for the final group game in control of their own destiny.
Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi and team mates applaud their fans after their Champions League loss to Tottenham Hotspur
Inter have lost on six of their last seven visits to England (won once), and their record overall is four wins, one draw and 11 losses.
Kane has scored 13 goals and assisted a further two in his 15 Champions League appearances.
Turkish official Cuneyt Cakir has been a heart of controversy involving English clubs before when Nani and Manchester United were victims of his decision-making against Real Madrid five years ago. Nonetheless, he seems to be a lucky omen for Spurs. He was also the official in their 3-1 victory over champions Real Madrid in the competition last season.
The big games keep on coming for Spurs. They travel to Arsenal this weekend for the north London derby before entertaining Southampton in the Premier League a week tonight.
Inter’s programme of matches is slightly less frenetic but no less difficult.
Back-to-back away trips now follow in Serie A against rivals AS Roma and reigning champions Juventus—matches which will go a long way to determine how the Nerazzurri fare domestically this term.
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