Mauricio Pochettino knew the importance of this game. In Champions League Group H, he said, it was Tottenham’s cup final.
So it was fitting to win it at Wembley. If all now goes as expected from here, Pochettino will be anticipating that a draw in Dortmund on matchday five should as good as see Tottenham into the last 16.
Here’s how Mystic Mauricio believes it will unfold. European champions Real Madrid will win the group – maybe six victories in six, or thereabouts. APOEL Nicosia are the weakest link, played six, lost six in all likelihood, goodbye.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane celebrates restoring his side’s lead in the first half after beating Roman Burki at his near post
Kane shook off two defenders before cutting inside to find the net from a relatively tight angle but the keeper was at fault
Heung-Min Son slides across the Wembley surface after providing Spurs with the best possible start with a near post finish
Tottenham took full advantage of their slice of good fortune as Kane doubled his tally for the night with a precise finish
The 24-year-old striker’s low shot to a slight deflection off the leg of Lukasz Piszczek on its way into the bottom corner
Son and Kane did the damage in Dele Alli’s absence as Tottenham lifted their Wembley curse with a fine win on Wednesday
Jan Vertonghen will miss the trip to face Apoel Nicosia after receiving a second yellow card for catching Mario Gotze
TOTTENHAM (3-4-3): Lloris 6, Aurier 7, Alderweireld 7, Sanchez 7, Vertonghen 6, Davies 6.5, Son 7.5 (Sissoko 83), Dembele 6.5, Dier 6.5, Eriksen 7, Kane 8.5 (Llorente 87)
UNUSED SUBS: Vorm, Trippier, Winks, Foyth, Walker-Peters
GOALS: Son 4, Kane 15, 60
BOOKED: Dier, Vertonghen
SENT OFF: Vertonghen
MANAGER: Pochettino 7.5
BORUSSIA DORTMUND (4-3-2-1): Burki 3; Piszczek 5, Papastathopoulos 5, Toprak 5 (Zagadou 80, 5.5), Toljan; Dahoud 6.5 (Castro 72, 5.5), Sahin 6.5, Kagawa 6.5 (Gotze 67, 5.5); Yarmolenko 7.5, Pulisic 7; Aubameyang 7
UNUSED SUBS: Weidenfeller, Subotic, Isak, Philipp
GOAL: Yarmolenko 11
BOOKED: Toljan, Castro
MANAGER: Bosz 6
REFEREE: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA) 4
ATTENDANCE: 67, 343
Tottenham go there next, later this month and will be disappointed if they do not win. Eventually, if results fall as predicted, it will leave Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund duking it out for the second qualifying place. So, according to Pochettino’s workings, victory in the home leg between the teams was essential, if Tottenham were not to need to go to Germany and win.
And Tottenham did it. Against a weakened Dortmund side – and, yes, Tottenham were without Dele Alli, but the Germans’ absentees ran close to double figures – and with a side helping of good fortune via an unjustly disallowed Dortmund goal, but Tottenham pulled it off in Europe at last.
They were out of the competition by the time they won a Champions League game at Wembley last season, but this was a very creditable display. The one downer was Jan Vertonghen’s sending off for a forearm swung at Mario Gotze late.
It was reckless and unnecessary but should only keep him out of the Nicosia game, when he is unlikely to be missed. He should be back for Real Madrid when all hands will need to be on the defensive deck.
One result does not a turning point make, but at least Tottenham will stop associating Wembley with misfortune after this. Those that believe in fate – and Wembley has made Tottenham fans increasingly open to talk of jinxes in recent weeks – may view three minutes in the second-half as the moment their luck changed.
In that time, Dortmund had a perfectly good goal disallowed, while Tottenham put the game beyond them with a third. Of course, with a two goal margin of victory, one goal unjustly chalked off does not alter the outcome – but the timing was significant.
Dortmund should have been level, instead they were 3-1 down. Games turn on the tiniest margins. This was a canyon-sized one, all things considered.
Heung-Min Son latched onto Harry Kane’s through-ball after just four minutes to give Tottenham the best possible start
South Korea striker Heung-Min Son has now scored seven goals in nine competitive games against Borussia Dortmund
Tottenham celebrate their opening strike against the current Bundesliga leaders in the opening Champions League game
Andriy Yarmolenko bent in Dortmund’s equaliser after a sharp interchange with Shinji Kagawa before beating Hugo Lloris
The Ukrainian forward celebrates his brilliant strike to bring the German side level after just 11 minutes at the home of football
The former Dynamo Kiev winger showed the quality of his left foot leaving Lloris with no chance from his long-range strike
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino instructs from the touchline during the opening Champions League group game
When Pierre Emerick Aubameyang swept Mahmoud Dahoud’s cross into the net on 57 minutes, Dortmund should have been level, 2-2. Instead the goal was extinguished by an erroneous linesman’s flag.
There were Dortmund players offside, yes, but none that touched the ball. Aubameyang, meanwhile, had timed his run perfectly from an onside position. The stooge official on the by-line did nothing, either. Another triumph for the lousy ideas factory that was former UEFA president Michel Platini.
Dortmund were still smarting, then, when Tottenham put clear air between these sides. A lovely interchange of passes ended with Christian Eriksen feeding Harry Kane and his shot went through the legs of defender Lukasz Piszczek and past deeply underwhelming goalkeeper Roman Burki, of Switzerland. It was Kane’s second of the night, and his sixth in his last four games, his form now adding to the mystery that surrounds those blank Augusts.
Yet, while taking nothing away from Tottenham, it is hard to imagine there has been a better time to play Borussia Dortmund in Europe these last few years. A list of the injured was almost a team sheet in itself: Marco Reus, Andrew Schurrle, Julian Weigl, Erik Durm, Raphael Guerreiro, Marcel Schmelzer, Marc Bartra and Sebastian Rode.
In addition Neven Subotic fell sick and was fit only for the substitutes’ bench. When Tottenham took the lead after four minutes, it seemed as if the match could become as close as a team could get to a comfortable evening against Dortmund.
Yet Peter Bosz’s team is not leading the Bundesliga without reason and a single goal lead at half-time for Tottenham, plus inferior possession statistics, told its own story. Dortmund, even half strength, are not exactly feeble. In players like Andriy Yarmolenko, Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic, they have some of the finest performers in Europe.
The Borussia Dortmund fans supported their teams throughout the contest despite their poor defending on display
Serge Aurier was handed his first start in a Tottenham shirt in a right wing-back role and he had plenty of defending to do
Borussia Dortmund’s Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki throws the ball out during the UEFA Champions League group game
In the absence of Dele Alli through suspension Christian Eriksen was tasked with provided an even greater creative spark
The Dortmund defence was stretched four minutes after their equaliser as Kane bulldozed his way down the left to score
Kane looked up and beat Burki with ease once more at his near post to make it three goals in two matches for Spurs this month
The England striker’s August drought is very much a thing of the past as he continued his fine recent form in September
Tottenham may have scored two first-half goals, both on the counter-attack, but they were never allowed to settle. It wasn’t just Wembley, either; Dortmund would be a danger in any arena.
They played high and stuck to it, admirably, but it makes them vulnerable. Tottenham hit them well and swiftly on the break and Dortmund have no last line of defence in Burki, defeated twice at his near post in the opening 15 minutes.
The first goal had echoes of Gareth Bale against Inter Milan. The same directness down the left flank, the same pace and single-purpose. Kane fed the ball to Hueng-Min Son and he was away, Dortmund shirts struggling gamely to keep pace, along the wing and inside towards goal where Burki tried to narrow his angle. No matter. Son shot powerfully into the roof of the net, the ball near Burki but not vice-versa. It was a stunning start. Just what Tottenham craved in their temporary home, and the locals rejoiced accordingly. But not for long.
Dortmund’s equaliser took just seven minutes to come and it was wonderful, a one-two, played by Yarmolenko to former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa, getting the ball back on the edge of the area in what did not appear a dangerous position.
Yarmolenko changed that perception with a curling shot reminiscent of Leroy Sane’s fifth for Manchester City against Liverpool on Saturday. He struck it with his left and it curled past Hugo Lloris, who was nowhere near despite an acrobatic effort.
Yet Dortmund’s style makes for open encounters and in the spirit of the occasion, they let Tottenham bite back within four minutes. This was a dismal defensive effort all round, not just soft from Burki in goal, but weak throughout, Kane enjoying a momentary reign of terror on the left.
First, he shrugged off the attention of Piszczek, turning him near the halfway line. Nuri Sahin came across to cover but did even worse, falling to the floor in a heap, claiming Kane had pulled him down. There was contact, yes, but nothing that should have had such a devastating effect on a man who occupies the heart of midfield.
Bosz was apoplectic on the touchline, but should have directed his ire at the weakness of his player. Now Kane was away, with only Burki to beat and he knew just where to put it. Same place as Son: near post, near Burki, near perfect. He’s in magnificent nick now, by the way.
Christian Pulisic was a strong influence on the Dortmund side in the first hour with the youngster pulling the strings
Jan Vertonghen was correctly booked for going in late on Yarmolenko to stop a Dortmund attack in the second half
Son came close to scoring a second after another sweeping counter-attack from Spurs on their return to Wembley
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the net brilliantly on the half-volley but Gianluca Rocchi disallowed the effort for offside
Kane pulled out wide to receive Eriksen’s pass following sharp passes in midfield to fire his shot into the bottom corner
The prolific striker wheels a way in celebration after scoring the all-important third goal to give Spurs a two-goal cushion
Gotze looked clearly dazed after being caught by Vertonghen with his arm in the closing stages of the match in North London
Dortmund’s Dutch head coach Peter Bosz cuts a dejected figure on the sidelines as the group game slipped away from him
The two teams observe the Champions League anthem prior to kick-off with no issues regarding access into the stadium