LONDON, Feb 14 — No Harry Kane, no Dele Alli, and still no problem for Tottenham Hotspur as three second-half goals handed them a commanding 3-0 Champions League last 16, first-leg lead over Borussia Dortmund.
Son Heung-min again led the way in Kane’s absence by opening the scoring before Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente also struck in the final seven minutes to put Mauricio Pochettino’s men on the brink of reaching the last eight.
Here, AFP Sport looks at four things we learned from a famous night for the hosts at Wembley:
Son steps up again
Kane and Alli’s injuries coincided with Son’s departure to the Asian Cup. In two games without all three, Tottenham’s bids for domestic cup success ended for another year in defeats against Chelsea and Crystal Palace.
Since Son’s return, the South Korean has scored in all four games to maintain an unlikely title challenge with Premier League victories over Watford, Newcastle United and Leicester City, and now help his side claim a priceless first-leg lead.
Despite the accumulated fatigue of representing his country in three international tournaments in the past eight months, Son’s energy levels — compared to a battery recently by Pochettino — show no signs of running low. He now has 11 goals in as many games for his club.
Lloris makes amends
Spurs’ Champions League campaign looked all but over after just three games of the group stage following defeats against Inter Milan and Barcelona and a 2-2 draw away at PSV Eindhoven.
High-profile mistakes from Hugo Lloris cost his side dear, particularly for the opening goal in Barca’s 4-2 win at Wembley and when the French captain was sent off for a rash challenge with Spurs leading 2-1 in Eindhoven.
As the heavy legs of Pochettino’s men struggled to get going before half-time, though, Lloris stood tall to bravely block Christian Pulisic’s powerful effort from a narrow angle and then get an outstretched arm to Dan-Axel Zagadou’s header just before the break.
Those saves proved vital as Spurs took control in the second period and kept a clean sheet to put them in pole position to reach the last eight.
Sancho lacks support
The rising star of English football was playing for the Germans at Wembley as Jadon Sancho returned to his native London with a burgeoning reputation built on a fantastic season for the Bundesliga leaders.
Sancho showed flashes of his lightning speed and trickery before the break, but Dortmund failed to make the most of their first-half supremacy without the injured Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer.
Dortmund’s two top scorers have combined for 30 goals this season and may be back to provide their firepower for the second leg on March 5, but the mountain already looks too big to climb for Lucien Favre’s men.
Vertonghen bends it like Beckham
Tottenham were not just devoid of some of their most potent attacking threats, but both left-backs Ben Davies and Danny Rose due to injury.
Pochettino tinkered to switch to a back three with centre-back Vertonghen forced to cope with the pace of Sancho as a left wing-back.
But the Belgian turned the tie Spurs’ way going forward with a brilliant cross for Son to volley home the opener and then got just his second goal of the season by ghosting in at the back post to meet Serge Aurier’s cross perfectly and make it 2-0. — AFP