Tottenham were forced to wait for the second half to beat Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund 3-0 after a balanced first half during their Champions League match at Wembley.
The victory placed Spurs in a pole position to reach quarter-finals despite heading to Dortmund in a fortnight for the second leg
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were irresistible after a tight first half, Son Heung-min breaking the deadlock two minutes after the interval with a side-foot volley from Jan Vertonghen’s cross.
Dortmund, regarded by many as favourites with Spurs missing injured talisman Harry Kane as well as Dele Alli, failed to respond and the home side rammed home their superiority in the last 10 minutes.
The outstanding Vertonghen slid in on Serge Aurier’s delivery and substitute Fernando Llorente headed in Christian Eriksen’s near-post corner – with Spurs also keeping a clean sheet to enhance their chance of progressing.
They survived a fierce first half, when keeper Hugo Lloris saved crucially from Dan-Axel Zagadou’s header, to gather themselves for a sustained second-half assault.
And there were heroes to be found everywhere as Spurs’ defence was so assured and the whole side so well-drilled that Dortmund barely threatened after the break.
Son has risen superbly to the extra responsibility thrust upon him by Kane’s absence while Vertonghen was inspired in all areas, not only in his accustomed defensive position but further forward as he created one goal and scored another.
Lots of eyes were on two young talents in the Dortmund line-up, with 18-year-old Jadon Sancho a big future England hope and 20-year-old Christian Pulisic on his way to Chelsea in the summer in a £58m deal.
This was not the night to make any serious judgement as Dortmund were ultimately overpowered by Spurs.
Sancho, who delayed Dortmund’s flight to London by forgetting his passport, showed flashes of pace and quality in the first half but disappeared from view as Spurs assumed total control.
Pulisic was a peripheral figure throughout and it is clear he will arrive at Stamford Bridge very much as a work in progress.
In Amsterdam, Real Madrid waited for a late winner from Marco Asensio and VAR’s decision in the Champions League to beat a spirited Ajax 2-1 in the first leg of the last 16 on Wednesday
Ajax started strongly and took advantage of a Thiabaut Courtois when Nicolas Tagliafico headed home what looked like an opener, but referee Damir Skomina judged Dusan Tadic to be offside upon review.
Karim Benzema put Los Blanco in the lead in the 60th minute with a well taken strike after Vinicius Junior’s powerful run at the home side defence.
Hakim Ziyech’s equaliser 15 minutes later at least gave Ajax hopes but Asensio’s 87th-minute winner was a sucker-punch in a match the Dutch team had largely dominated.
Their ruled out opener will likely only add to the sense of what might have been and it was no surprise to see a cluster of red and white shirts surrounding the officials at the final whistle.- Advertisement -