Soccer

Tottenham’s Champions League campaign hanging by a thread after late PSV equaliser

Another away trip, another late collapse, another blown win, and another Champions League campaign at risk of ending early for Spurs.

This was not Inter away last month, when Spurs were 1-0 up with five minutes left and lost 2-1. But it was near enough. This time in Eindhoven Spurs were 2-1 up, cruising and in control. Then Hugo Lloris was sent off and, with five minutes on the clock again, Luuk de Jong equalised. This time there was no added time winner, but there did not need to be. The damage was done.

This 2-2 draw leaves Spurs sat on one point after three games in Group B. They do not need snookers yet, but they do need to win their last three group games, and to hope that either Inter or Barcelona collapse. Just look at the table and look at the fixtures and you realise that the scenarios that would put Spurs in the hat for the last-16 all require too many unlikely things to go Spurs’ way. They have to prepare for the probability of Europa League football in the new stadium in the spring, if they have any European football there at all.


PSV vs Tottenham – Champions League player ratings





1/22 Jeroen Zoet – 7

2/22 Denzel Dumfries – 6

3/22 Daniel Schwaab – 5

4/22 Pablo Rosario – 6

5/22 Angelino – 6

6/22 Nick Viergever – 5

7/22 Jorrit Hendrix – 5

8/22 Gaston Pereiro – 4

9/22 Donyell Malen – 5

10/22 Luuk de Jong – 6

11/22 Hirving Lozano – 7

12/22 Hugo Lloris – 4

13/22 Kieran Trippier – 6

14/22 Toby Alderweireld – 4

15/22 Davinson Sanchez – 6

16/22 Ben Davies – 5

17/22 Eric Dier – 5

18/22 Mousa Dembele – 6

19/22 Christian Eriksen – 7

20/22 Lucas Moura – 7

21/22 Son Heung-min – 6

22/22 Harry Kane – 7

1/22 Jeroen Zoet – 7

2/22 Denzel Dumfries – 6

3/22 Daniel Schwaab – 5

4/22 Pablo Rosario – 6

5/22 Angelino – 6

6/22 Nick Viergever – 5

7/22 Jorrit Hendrix – 5

8/22 Gaston Pereiro – 4

9/22 Donyell Malen – 5

10/22 Luuk de Jong – 6

11/22 Hirving Lozano – 7

12/22 Hugo Lloris – 4

13/22 Kieran Trippier – 6

14/22 Toby Alderweireld – 4

15/22 Davinson Sanchez – 6

16/22 Ben Davies – 5

17/22 Eric Dier – 5

18/22 Mousa Dembele – 6

19/22 Christian Eriksen – 7

20/22 Lucas Moura – 7

21/22 Son Heung-min – 6

22/22 Harry Kane – 7

What made this even more frustrating for Spurs – just like the Inter defeat – is that they had the game where they wanted before they threw it away. Before Lloris’ red card, 11 minutes from the end, they were knocking the ball around and creating good chances to go 3-1 up. Erik Lamela and Harry Kane missed good ones, just as they did at San Siro. Had one of those gone in, and Spurs flown home tonight with the three points, this would have gone down as the night when Spurs added quality to the grit and organisation they had been showing in recent weeks.

And if Spurs had won, then all the talk would have been about Christian Eriksen. He was the reason why this was so nearly such a good team display. In his first start after a month out with an abdominal injury, he produced a performance to remind anyone who needed reminding that he is one of the best at the world at what he does. He ran the game, created both Spurs goals and raised their play to a level it could never have touched while he was out.

But Eriksen’s excellence was unfortunately undermined by errors at the start and end of the game. He gave the ball away, it must be said, for the PSV break which saw Lloris sent off. But it was another misjudgement from the captain, coming out too late, fouling Chucky Lozano and throwing away the security Spurs had enjoyed. If Tottenham are to do anything this season, in Europe or at home, they will need Lloris to get back to his best.

It was meant to be a night for cool-headed competence, which is why the first goal that Tottenham conceded felt like such an aberration. They had to come here and do the basics well, and when Davinson Sanchez rolled a pass to Toby Alderweireld, just inside the Spurs half, nothing bad should have come of it. But Alderweireld, who has been playing in the Champions League all his life, turned as if he had no idea that Hirving Lozano was lurking behind him. Lozano stole the ball, raced down the pitch, and Alderweireld’s despairing tackle only deflected the ball past Lloris and in.

That one mistake could have ended Spurs’ Champions League season. Lose here and their campaign was certainly over. But these high stakes are why their fightback was so impressive. Because Spurs continued to be the better team, methodically playing their football, and creating chances to get back into the game. Davinson Sanchez had a good equaliser unfairly disallowed from a corner because Harry Kane – not even interfering with play – was in an offside position.

Tottenham had every right to be upset, but it is moments like this when the best players stay calm, stay patient, and keep playing with that same cool consistency. So it was when Eriksen took the ball from Son, 20 yards from goal, at the end of the first half. He could have rushed a shot off, or passed to the first green shirt he saw. But he looked, waited, and rolled the ball through a gap no-one else saw. Trippier bounded onto it from outside and pulled the back to Lucas, whose finish was deflected in. It was precisely the sort of goal that Tottenham had not been scoring over the last month, one that relied on the ability of their special player to see a route through the opposition defence and to cut straight through it. With someone like Eriksen in the team, Spurs are suddenly so much harder to defend against.

The second goal, 10 minutes into the second half, was not quite as intricate as the clockwork first. But both goals owed everything to the imagination and execution of Eriksen. Holding onto the ball down the left, he briefly lent it to Ben Davies and then burst forward into the space behind Angelino. Knowing exactly what he wanted to do long before anyone else could cotton on, he whipped in his left-footed cross, Kane peeled away and headed in.

That gave Spurs the lead and they were looking capable of seeing it out, especially with Harry Winks and Erik Lamela on to bolster the midfield. Lamela stabbed one shot against the bar, a moment that we can now look back on as decisive.

Because when Eriksen uncharacteristically gave away the ball in midfield, PSV broke and Lloris was slow to get off his line to come out to meet Lozano. He eventually fouled him outside the penalty area and was shown a straight red card. Although substitute Michel Vorm saved from Gaston Pereiro’s free-kick, the game was turning against Spurs. And there were three minutes left when Spurs failed to pick up in the box and Luuk de Jong bundled in from a free-kick.

Unlike in Milan it was not followed by a second goal. Spurs did at least draw the game. But that point is scant consolation when they thought they had three.

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