Alli Earns his Spurs in Humbling Champions Real Madrid

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 4, 2017 20:44

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Alli Earns his Spurs in Humbling Champions Real Madrid

By Satish Sekar at Wembley Stadium © Satish Sekar (November 1st 2017)

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“We now belong not only with the best in England, but in Europe”, Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino said after watching his charges deservedly beat defending European Champions Real Madrid 3-1. “What we have to do is move to the next level and that is winning things. We’re pleased, but it will mean nothing if we have not won anything”.

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In the absence of Gareth Bale, still recuperating, and Cristiano Ronaldo just crowned the World’s Best again, but out of form, Spurs took their chance to inflict Real Madrid’s first group stage defeat in five years.

Harry Kane, admired by World’s Best coach, Zinédine Zidane, had recovered sufficiently to start, but it was team-mate Dele Alli, returning from a deserved three-match European ban imposed last season that took the plaudits with a brace – it should have been a hat-trick.

Alli capped off a fine team-move with a tap-in after 27 minutes to open the scoring. He doubled Spurs’ lead after 56 minutes when his shot took a wicked deflection off Real’s captain Sergio Ramos García, which gave keeper Kiko Casilla no chance to his left. Within ten minutes it was all over as Christian Eriksen added the third, again after a flowing team move. With 10 minutes remaining Ronaldo poked in Real’s consolation.

“People forget that we are the champions,” Ronaldo said. “Even if we lose two more matches, it isn’t a crisis”.

Zidane was gracious in defeat. “It wasn’t that we played badly”, he told journalists. “We just came up against the better team”.

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Writing and Walls

Casilla stretched to clutch Kane’s 20 + yard chip after 10 minutes, as the returning spotted the keeper off his line. Almost 5 minutes later Kane turned provider switching from left to right. Kieran Trippier cross-cum-shot tested Casilla, but to no avail. Just over half way through the half Ronaldo had his first sniff of a chance, but it was expertly snuffed out by Jan Vertonghen with the Real Madrid talisman poised to shoot.

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A couple of minutes later Alli marked his return to European action with a tap-in, that resulted from an excellent move involving Harry Winks and Trippier – the latter providing the cross for Alli to open the scoring, after Winks’ pass had created the opportunity to cross. Meanwhile, Raphaël Guerreiro put Borussia Dortmund ahead against APOEL a couple of minutes later in the other match in this group. Dortmund would not hold their lead, which meant that Spurs have qualified for the knockout stage with two matches remaining.

After a little more than half an hour Ronaldo should have converted Toni Kroos’ inviting pull back from the right, but failed to convert. As half time approached Moussa Sissoko fluffed his shot completely, allowing it to break to Kane, but his shot was blocked by Sergio Ramos. Referee Cüneyt Çakir waved away Kane’s appeals for a penalty. In the solitary minute of injury time Alli went down but was also refused a penalty.

Masterful

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Just over ten minutes into the second half Alli ran at the defence and shot from just inside the area. It took a wicked deflection off Ramos that gave Casilla no chance – Spurs’ lead was doubled. Shortly afterwards both Ronaldo and Ramos were left frustrated as they failed to convert a goalmouth scramble. Spurs punished them. Alli and Kane combined to release Christian Eriksen. The Danish international slotted it across Casilla to make it three, and end the match as a meaningful contest.

But for a dreadful miss by Alli at 3-0 it would have been a drubbing. Trippier’s excellent cross from the left wing only needed a firm header to complete Alli’s hat-trick and a famous rout, but he glanced it well wide. Madrid made them pay as Kane was replaced to rapturous applause. Ronaldo got the final poke in after another scramble where Spurs failed to clear.

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Mousa Dembélé’s dreadful challenge on Ramos got a yellow card – Ramos wanted harsher punishment, and the pair continued their niggling battle. Ramos came in for criticism afterwards for his reaction when both appeared to catch each other with their elbows. It mattered not as Spurs had the points and discovered they had qualified for the knockout stage with two matches remaining. Real Madrid will almost certainly join them.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 4, 2017 20:44