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Second-half comeback in France seals Champions League progress

Marseille 1-2 Spurs

Tue 01 November 2022, 22:10|Tottenham Hotspur

Second-half goals from Clement Lenglet and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg secured a come-from-behind victory against Marseille to ensure we topped Group D and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Defender Lenglet returned home to France to score his first Spurs goal on the 50th Champions League appearance of his career nine minutes after the break, cancelling out Chancel Mbemba’s opener for the home side. A draw would have seen us through and we rode our luck at times in the closing stages but, as Marseille chased the goal they needed to qualify, we hit them with a sucker-punch right at the end, Hojbjerg’s screamer not only winning the game but moving us back to the top of the group.

It was a crazy evening in the tightest group of this season’s competition, with each of the four teams topping the pile at one stage, as Sporting CP took the lead in their game against Eintracht Frankfurt, only for the Germans to come back and win. Frankfurt led the group until Hojbjerg’s dramatic intervention.

The home fans created an incredible atmosphere as the game got underway and Marseille made a quick start, Alexis Sanchez glancing a header a yard wide early on and forcing Hugo Lloris into a smart save on 19 minutes. Both sides were forced into early changes, Eric Bailly and Heung-Min Son leaving the game through injury, Son looking dazed as he left the pitch having taken a whack to the face.

He was replaced by Yves Bissouma as we switched formations, but the home side continued to dominate and Lloris produced a fine stop just after the half-hour, diving to his left to push away Jordan Veretout’s fierce half-volley. We were pushed back deeper and deeper as the half wore on and eventually fell behind two minutes into stoppage time, Veretout whipping over a cross to the back post where former Newcastle United defender Mbemba produced an incredible leap to meet the ball and power his header past Lloris.

Harry Kane drove in our first shot of the match seven minutes into first-half injury time, a rising drive that former Spur Pau Lopez helped on its way but the corner came to nothing. In truth, it had been a really poor half for us but we came out with much more determination after the break and levelled on 54 minutes, Lenglet climbing highest in the box to glance home Ivan Perisic’s free-kick. We almost went ahead shortly after on a breakaway which ended with Lopez spilling substitute Emerson Royal’s cross but Kane just couldn’t turn home the rebound.

The final stages were incredibly edgy as everything was on the line and both sides went so close, Hojbjerg crashing a shot against the crossbar with Lopez beaten while, at the other end, Perisic produced an outstanding block to deny Sanchez a certain goal. And hearts were in mouths in the 87th minute when Saed Kolasinac stole in unmarked at the back post to meet Amine Harit’s cross but headed wide. Stoppage time seemed to last forever but suddenly we broke away, Kane in acres of space able to pick out the surging run of Hojbjerg and he burst into the box and rifled past Lopez to spark fantastic celebrations among the travelling contingent!

'We played a fantastic second half'

Assistant Head Coach Cristian Stellini said: "I’m very proud because when you start a match in the way we started, it’s not easy to change. The crowd was very hot, Marseille had control of the game in the first half, and we never jumped up to press or create problems, and our energy was very low. We defended well, because they didn’t create a lot of chances. We changed the system in the second half and played much better, controlled the game and played a fantastic second half. We followed the process."

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

Marseille 1-2 Spurs

Marseille (3-4-2-1): Lopez, Mbemba, Bailly (Gigot 9, Kolasinac 73)), Balderi, Clauss (Kabore 74), Rongier (c) (Suarez 83), Veretout (Under 74), Tavares, Guendouzi, Harit, Sanchez. Substitutes (not used): Ngapandouentnbu, Blanco, Gerson, Payet.

Spurs (3-4-3): Lloris (c), Dier, Lenglet, Davies, Perisic, Bentancur (Skipp 84), Hojbjerg, Sessegnon (Royal 46), Lucas (Bryan 90+3), Son (Bissouma 29) Kane. Substitutes (not used): Forster, Austin, Doherty, Spence, Sanchez, Tanganga, Sarr, White.

Match data

Goals: Marseille - Mbemba 45+2; Spurs – Clement 54, Hojbjerg 90+5.

Yellow cards: Marseille – Balerdi; Spurs – Lenglet, Hojbjerg.

Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland).

Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille.

Weather: Partly cloudy, light winds, 17 degrees.

Attendance: 50,768.