Spurs eye Mission Possible against Barca
Late victory over Inter keeps their qualification hopes alive
Tottenham Hotspur were just 10 minutes away from being eliminated at the group stage of the Champions League.
But, as they tried in vain to break down the massed Inter Milan defence at Wembley yesterday morning (Singapore time), Christian Eriksen came to the rescue.
The Danish midfielder, who was dropped to the bench by Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, fired home after a neat lay-off from Dele Alli to keep their qualification hopes alive.
The slim victory means they head to the Nou Camp to face the group leaders Barcelona on Dec 11, knowing that a win will seal their place in the last 16, regardless of how Inter fare against PSV on the same night.
They will also go through if they match Inter's result.
"We still have one more game to go, our focus was to win this and now our next one is Barca," Eriksen told BT Sport. "It will be tough but fun, we know what we have to play for.
"Tonight, Inter came to defend, they knew one point would be better than losing, and playing against Italian sides, you don't have many chances.
" Luckily I took mine, and we kept them away."
Tottenham striker Harry Kane said it's tough to play on the Wembley pitch, which is in poor condition, but they are getting used to it.
He said: "We played well though, we played out from the back, through the lines, and we could have got a couple in the first half. The clean sheet was massive and thankfully we got the goal.
"We will go all guns blazing now. It will be tough, but it is all to play for."
Pochettino echoed the same sentiments, saying: "All is possible. I never say it is mission impossible. In football, all can happen, you need to believe.
"It will be tough (to win at Barcelona), but the belief is so important.
"We have big respect for Barcelona. Barcelona are one of the best teams in Europe, and of course they have unbelievable players. It will be tough. But we believe we can win."
Barcelona's last three games at home to English clubs resulted in 3-0, 4-0 and 3-1 wins against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal respectively.
Liverpool were the last English team to win there in the Champions League last 16 in 2007.
Inter coach Luciano Spalletti can only hope that Barca, who have already won the group, maintain their dominant home form in Europe.
Bayern Munich were the last side to win away in the Champions League against Barcelona, in April 2013, since when they are 28 matches unbeaten at home in the competition.
"I'm sure Barcelona will not give anything easy to Tottenham even if they have already qualified," said Spalletti.
"Players like (Lionel) Messi, like (Gerard) Pique. I don't even dare have a shadow of a doubt."
Tottenham had the better chances on a tense night at Wembley. Harry Winks curled against the crossbar in the first half and Jan Vertonghen headed wide late on before Eriksen blasted home to seal victory.
Eriksen and Son Heung Min, who had shone in Tottenham's 3-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday that lifted them into third place in the English Premier League, were both left on the bench and their late introductions proved pivotal.
But it was French midfielder Moussa Sissoko, so often a misfit since his £30-million (S$52.5m) move to London in 2016, who proved the key to unlocking Inter's defence.
As against Chelsea, he was Spurs' midfield engine and, with the clock ticking down as Inter parked deep, he set off on a barrelling run into the area before cutting back a pass for Alli, who teed up Eriksen to fire an unstoppable shot past Samir Handanovic.
Next up for Spurs is Sunday's North London Derby against Arsenal, who were scheduled to meet Vorskla Poltava in a Europa League tie in Kiev this morning. - AFP, REUTERS