Spurs lead way in Champions League after stumping Real Madrid
Tottenham top 'group of death' as Cristiano Ronaldo and co run out of ideas
17 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
UEFA Champions League
REAL MADRID 1 (Ronaldo pen 43)
SPURS 1 (Varane og 28)
MAURICIO Pochettino’s makeshift Spurs side won a valuable point away at Champions League holders Real Madrid tonight (Tuesday) – and now top their first round group with three matches to play.
The Tottenham manager was missing first team regulars Dele Alli, Mousa Dembele and Ben Davies – so he rolled the dice with his formation and showed just why Spurs chairman Daniel Levy had said earlier this week that he hopes the Argentine will be his manager for decades to come.
He chose to give Fernando Llorente a rare start – just his second in Spurs colours – and the veteran forward will consider himself unlucky not to have earned a first half penalty when he was clearly tripped with the score at 0-0.
Speaking after the game, a delighted Pochettino said: “It was a big challenge for us, to come here and compete with Madrid. We now have the feeling we can do that. The result is not the most important thing today – having competed with Real Madrid is. That is what makes me happiest.”
And what a performance it was, right across the pitch. When Spurs were asked to defend, Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez kept the Madrid attack at arms length – and when they did get sight of goal, captain Hugo Lloris was always on hand.
The opener came for Spurs mid way through the first half. Madrid had dominated possession but Pochettino’s men had looked dangerous on the counter. A break on down the right saw full back Serge Aurier drive a low cross in towards Harry Kane – and under pressure, the ball ricocheted off the shins of defender Raphael Varane and over the line.
Madrid had plenty of the ball, but it took a penalty two minutes before half time to make things even. Aurier dived across Toni Kroos to block a shot – and the German tumbled. Christiano Ronaldo, who was well policed throughout by Jan Vertoghen throughout the match, fired home.
The second half saw Madrid again enjoy plenty of possession, but Spurs also threatened. Kane was sent in by Llrorente with 25 minutes remaining and, with just the keeper to beat, he aimed his shot to the bottom corner. Keylor Navas managed, somehow, to get a touch and keep things even. Christian Eriksen also forced the keeper into a top drawer save, while at the other end Lloris denied Karim Benzema from close range.
The visitors’ compact and mature performance frustrated Madrid, who slowly ran out of ideas as the clock ticked down.
It was a valuable and well deserved point – and means Spurs tonight sit proudly at the top of their ‘group of death’ Champions League table.
REAL MADRID: Navas, Hakimi, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Isco (Lucas 87), Benzema (Asensio 76), Ronaldo.
Subs not used: Nacho, Casilla, Hernandez, Llorente, Ceballos
SPURS: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Winks, Dier, Sissoko (Son 89), Eriksen, Kane, Llorente (Rose 80).
Subs not used: Vorm, Trippier, Foyth, Walker-Peters, Georgiou