Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 PSV Eindhoven: Harry Kane comes to Spurs' rescue once again
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
The statistics and the scoreline from Tottenham Hotspur's late win against PSV Eindhoven did not quite match up. The North London side were on the brink of elimination from the Champions League, but they had to rely on a late goal from Harry Kane to keep their European dreams alive. In the end, they earned a 2-1 win, but the narrow victory doesn't necessarily reflect their dominance at Wembley on Tuesday night.
PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet produced an excellent display, relying on crucial saves and a bit of luck along the way. He was bombarded with effort after effort, including a double save early on. He denied two in quick succession from Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen - stopping Eriksen's close-range shot with his legs, and then parrying Alli's follow-up. Spurs had 30 shots in total against the Dutch side, their most ever in a Champions League game, and the hosts controlled three quarters of possession.
However, the Eredivisie champions opened the scoring with just 61 seconds on the clock. It was a brilliant, quick start from PSV who forced a corner straight away. Gastón Pereiro found Luuk de Jong near the penalty spot, who managed to wriggle free from his marker, Alli. The Dutch forward powered a header past goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, who was deputising for the suspended Hugo Lloris.
Spurs turned once again to their talisman Kane in their hour of need. The England striker inspired his side's late comeback by hammering home the equaliser in the 78th minute. A long ball found Kane on the edge of the box who headed it to Fernando Llorente; and in return, the Spaniard teed it up perfectly for the forward. Kane swung his boot at the knockdown, hitting it hard and low past Zoet.
And with just one minute of normal time left, Kane - who was wearing the captain's armband in the game - relied on a deflection from defender Trent Sainsbury to score the winner. Kane headed towards goal from a Ben Davies cross, and the ball hit the elbow of Sainsbury before finding its way into the back of the net.
Kane has been an impressive force for Spurs in Europe. He has been directly involved in 15 goals in 14 appearances in the Champions League, scoring 13 goals and providing two assists. He told BT Sport that it was "one of our best performances of the season".
The 25-year-old said: "We said we were disappointed coming away from there [Eindhoven, with a draw]. Today it wasn't ideal conceding early, but then we were dominant and created chances. We could have been more clinical, but we'll just take a win in the Champions League.
"We had to dig deep and find another level when it mattered. We have been grinding results out here and there all season. We are getting wins."
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino praised the team effort, saying they deserved the victory: "We won and suffered a lot. It was a massive effort so I was pleased. We played a lot in eight days. Now we need to try to recover for Saturday [at Crystal Palace].
"The team is growing up. We have the character of never giving up, which is so important."
PSV Eindhoven manager Mark van Bommel was thankful for both his side and the travelling fans. He said: "We fought like lions. After one minute we got a goal and we tried to defend it until the end.
"It's a very difficult group. We played four games and three times we've been leading. Our fans were behind us for the entire match; they were the only ones I could hear singing. We got a standing ovation from them at the end, which I think says it all."
Tottenham Hotspur face Crystal Palace away in the Premier League before the international break, playing on Saturday at 5.30pm. Their next Champions League appearance will be against Inter Milan at Wembley on November 28 (K.O. 8pm). PSV Eindhoven take on Barcelona on the same day, and the same kick off.