Spurs needed the win to retain any hope of emerging from Group B into the last 16 and for long spells it looked like their ambitions would flounder on the rock of the Italian side’s resilient defence.
Christian Eriksen came off the bench to score a late winner for Tottenham against Inter Milan at Wembley and keep alive their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stage going into their final game at Barcelona.
Harry Winks struck the bar and Jan Vertonghen headed wide as Spurs pressed but it took the introduction of Eriksen to make the crucial breakthrough as he was the beneficiary of good work by Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli to score at the far post with 10 minutes left.
Inter had opportunities of their own with Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris saving from Ivan Perisic – but the Premier League side closed out the win and must now match Inter’s result at home to PSV Eindhoven when they travel to the Nou Camp on 11 December to go through.
Spurs had no room for manoeuvre when presented with two home games against PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan to give themselves a chance of staying in the Champions League.
They left it late in both games to secure the wins they needed and this one here, against a well-drilled Inter defence, was a real triumph for resilience and persistence.
Spurs had only themselves to blame for putting themselves in this perilous position by casting aside winning positions to lose away to Inter and draw at PSV – but they deserve huge credit for pulling themselves around to still have a chance going into that final game away to Barcelona, who beat PSV 2-1 to win the group.
They could have been forgiven for thinking the fates were against them as Winks hit the bar and Vertonghen somehow headed Eriksen’s free-kick – the Dane’s first touch after coming on – wide from right in front of goal.
Instead, they kept pressing and were rewarded with Eriksen’s breakthrough to give them the result that keeps them right in the hunt for a place in the last 16 before the trip to Barcelona.
“Barcelona are one of the best teams in Europe and they have unbelievable players,” Pochettino said. “We have big respect for Barcelona, but we have belief that we can win.”
Man of the Match Sissoko the unlikely hero
Moussa Sissoko played in the Champions League for Spurs for the third time this season It is fair to say Moussa Sissoko has been something of an acquired taste for Spurs fans but the rangy France midfielder is winning his battle for acceptance in style.
He has often been the target of scorn from supporters but has turned opinion around with an increasingly impressive series of displays this season. Sissoko was a key figure in the win over Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday and was the driving force behind this win too.
The crowd roared his name for one surging first-half run that helped to create a chance for Lucas Moura and he played a major part in the winner, driving into the area to allow Dele Alli to slip an inviting pass into the path of Eriksen to complete the formalities.
It was Sissoko’s name the Spurs supporters chanted once again in the aftermath of that decisive moment – confirmation that he is winning over his detractors by force of his performances.
Spurs love playing Inter – the stats
- Following a run of three successive wins, Inter Milan have failed to win any of their last three Champions League matches, drawing one and losing two.
- Inter Milan have now lost on four of their last five visits to England in the Champions League, including back-to-back defeats by Spurs.
- Seven of Spurs’ last eight Champions League goals have come in the second half of matches.
Tottenham have the small matter of a London derby against Arsenal on Sunday (14:15 GMT) and must travel to Barcelona for their final group game in just under two weeks (11 December, 20:00 GMT).
Inter need to better Tottenham’s result at the Nou Camp when they host PSV Eindhoven (11 December, 20:00 GMT).