DORTMUND, Germany, March 6 – The brilliance of Hugo Lloris at one end and Harry Kane at the other took Tottenham safely into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 1-0 win at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday to complete a 4-0 aggregate win.
Here, AFP Sports looks at three things we learned:
– Kane’s killer touch –
Dortmund had all the chances before the break without finding the finishing touch and with his first opportunity, Kane showed why he is one of the deadliest strikers in the competition to kill the tie off.
The England captain was merely an interested spectator when Tottenham amassed a bumper 3-0 lead at Wembley three weeks ago.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men coped admirably in Kane’s five-week absence with an ankle injury and his comeback actually coincided with a downturn in form as defeats to Burnley and Chelsea ended outside hopes of an assault at the Premier League title.
However, Kane’s class cannot be questioned and his third goal in four games since returning made him the club’s top all-time scorer in European competitions with 14 of his 24 European goals coming in just 17 Champions League games.
Spurs will be hoping there are plenty more to come with Kane’s goals the key to how far they can go.
– Lloris leads the way –
High-profile mistakes from Lloris nearly saw Spurs eliminated in the group stages, but when they needed their captain to stand tall to Dortmund’s first-half bombardment the French goalkeeper refused to be beaten.
Lloris made five saves of varying difficulty to deny Marco Reus, Mario Goetze, Jadon Sancho, Raphael Guerreiro and Paco Alcacer before the break and ensure Spurs’ nerves were not shredded in front of the Yellow Wall.
Just like in the first leg at Wembley, Lloris’s interventions before the break were rewarded as Spurs struck with a sucker punch through Kane early in the second period to secure a place in the last eight of Europe’s premier competition for just the third time in the club’s history.
– Spurs learn their lesson –
The heartbreak of a dramatic elimination at this stage last season to Juventus may have become the lesson to turn Tottenham into Champions League contenders.
“It’s the history of Tottenham” said Giorgio Chiellini 12 months ago after Spurs threw away a 3-2 aggregate lead to lose 4-3 to the Italian champions at Wembley.
That night Spurs were guilty of not protecting their advantage in the search for more goals. With a bigger lead to rely on, Pochettino set his side up to first and foremost defend what they had in Germany.
On top of Lloris’s heroics, they needed brilliant last-ditch challenges from Jan Vertonghen and Ben Davies to see out the hosts’ expected fast start, but the resounding nature of this victory against the Bundesliga leaders is a sign of Spurs’ growing maturity on the European stage.