Vincent Janssen had a goal disallowed and later hit the bar, while Erik Lamela's rising shot was tipped over by goalkeeper Bernd Leno as we pressed forward impressively in the opening 45 minutes at the BayArena.
But the introduction of Julian Baumgartlinger by Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt at the break completely changed the hosts' dynamic and they played us at our own game from then on, closing the ball down quickly and denying us any real time on the ball.
In the end, a stunning save from Hugo Lloris - something akin to a combat roll across his own goal-line - to deny Leverkusen hotshot Javier Hernandez proved crucial as the game ended without score and the points were shared.
It means it's as you were in Group E of the UEFA Champions League after leaders Monaco equalised late on to draw 1-1 at CSKA Moscow.
Mauricio Pochettino shuffled his pack for the trip, making changes on the flanks with Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier given the nod ahead of Ben Davies and Kyle Walker, while Eric Dier slotted into the heart of the back four to fill the void left by Toby Alderweireld, who suffered an injury at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Further forward, Heung-Min Son returned to face his former employers as Moussa Sissoko dropped to the bench.
GOAL DISALLOWED: OFF-SIDE FLAG THWARTS JANSSEN – 10mins
Despite surrendering posssession in a handful of key areas early on, we might have broken the deadlock with our first attack. Lamela scooped a pass into the path of Son bearing down on goal, who squared for Janssen to turn home into an empty net but the flag was up early for off-side against the South Korean international and it didn't count. The incident seemed to spark us into life, though, as we looked more dangerous going forward and should have opened the scoring in the 27th minute when we carved the home side open on the break, Trippier crossing for the arriving Dele Alli who headed wide.
WOODWORK: JANSSEN AND LAMELA SO CLOSE – 39mins
Somehow the game remains goalless after a frantic spell. Trippier sent in a curling cross from the right that Janssen thumped against the bar with a header and then goalkeeper Leno made a terrific recovery to get himself up and tip Lamela’s acrobatic effort from the rebound over the bar. Trippier was a thorn in the Leverkusen side all night as he continued to find space down his flank and sent in a number of dangerous balls. Lloris, meanwhile, had largely been a spectator but scrambled across his goal in the closing stages of the half to shepherd a Javier Hernandez effort wide.
Above: Jan Vertonghen battles with Javier Hernandez.
SAVE: LLORIS SOMEHOW KEEPS OUT SHOT FROM HERNANDEZ – 48mins
The home side were the fastest out of the blocks after the break and thought they had grabbed the lead inside the opening three minutes of the second half. A ball from the right went right across the face of goal and Hernandez looked certain to score, but Lloris somehow tumbled across to his right, juggling the ball over his body and thus keeping it from crossing the line. Hernandez was furious and convinced it was in, but replays showed that only part of the ball had entered the goal. It was a tremendous save from our captain to keep us in it and soon afterwards he showed his quality again when he dived low to keep out Charles Aranguiz’s free-kick, before Rose did well to block another Hernandez effort. It was backs against the wall stuff.
CHANCES: LEVERKUSEN THREATEN FROM SET-PLAYS – 72mins
We struggled to get a foothold in a one-sided second period and were being pushed deeper and deeper inside our own half. Lloris came to the rescue again from a corner when Omer Toprak headed down firmly but straight at the Frenchman. Toprak again had an opening from a corner five minutes later but this time blasted a volley wide.
CHANCE: KIESSLING DRILLS WIDE - 84mins
We still looked capable of springing forward and did just that when Christian Eriksen tricked his way into the box from the right side but put his cross straight into the arms of Leno, although the last real chance of note went to the hosts. Kevin Kampl shook off the attentions of Trippier and played the ball low across the box for Stefan Kiessling to run onto but, luckily for us, the Leverkusen man smashed his effort the wrong side of the post.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO SAID
“After the game it's a good point. It was a game where we wanted to take the three points. After the second half, we need to feel pleased with the draw. I'm pleased with the effort because this is a team that plays well, plays aggressive and is always difficult to play against here at the BayArena. It’s in our hands now at Wembley."
Bayer Leverkusen (4-2-3-1): Leno, Bender (c, Jedvaj 73), Tah, Toprak, Henrichs; Aranguiz, Kampl; Mehmedi, Hernandez (Brandt 85), Calhanoglu (Baumgartlinger 46); Kiessling. Substitutes (not used): Ozcan, Dragovic, Havertz, Volland.
Spurs (4-1-4-1): Lloris (c); Trippier, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama; Lamela (Sissoko 71), Eriksen, Alli, Son (Onomah 90); Janssen (Dembele 64). Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Carter-Vickers, Davies, Winks.
Yellow cards: Bayer Leverkusen – Calhanoglu 22, Bender 40; Spurs – Lamela 25.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir.
We venture to the south coast on Saturday for an early kick-off against AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League, hoping for a similar outcome to the last time we visited the Cherries when we ran out 5-1 winners almost a year ago to the day. Harry Kane bagged a hat-trick that day after the home side had taken an early lead. Eddie Howe’s team will have other ideas, though, and will approach the game with confidence after demolishing Hull City 6-1 at the weekend.