Tottenham Hotspur ended their Wembley hoodoo in emphatic fashion as they beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 to begin their Champions League campaign with a win.
It took Spurs just four minutes to get their noses in front, as South Korean forward Son Heung-min raced away on the counter-attack and slammed a finish beyond Roman Bürki at his near post.
But their lead didn’t last long. Andriy Yarmolenko, a former Tottenham transfer target, curled home an outstanding shot from outside the box to level the scores.
Enter Harry Kane. The England international scored two fine goals either side of half-time as Tottenham beat their more decorated opponents at their temporary home.
Here are five things Jack Austin and Luke Brown learned from the thrilling match.
Son is more than a squad player
This time last season, Mauricio Pochettino gambled and parachuted Heung min-Son into his starting line-up for Tottenham’s home match against Monaco, with Mousa Dembélé dropping to the bench. It was a poor decision. The South Korean missed a sitter with the game still goalless, and was hauled off at half-time with Monaco already leading 2-1, which is how the game finished.
With Dele Alli suspended from this match because of his red card against Gent in the Europa League in February, Pochettino again turned to Son for an important Champions League group stage fixture and, this time, he wasn’t disappointed.
It took Son just four minutes to vindicate his manager’s decision. Freed down the left, he drove into the area and initially looked to have missed the opportunity to roll Kane into space down the middle, before absolutely slamming a wonderful finish past Roman Bürki from an acute angle. It was a superb finish and further evidence that Son is so much more than just a squad player at the club.
Aurier is a high-risk, high-reward right back
Pochettino also made the decision to name Serge Aurier in his starting line-up, handing a full debut to the right-back who arrived from Paris Saint-Germain for £23m this summer. Again, it was a gamble – especially considering he also named Davinson Sánchez in a very new-look back five – but one that paid off, with the exception of a few hairy moments.
One moment midway through the first-half epitomised Aurier’s style of play. Ducking under a Dortmund cross in the box before rolling his marker, he dummied his way past Jeremy Toljan down the wing and played a superb slide-rule pass into the path of Kane. It was an exceptionally risky decision but one that paid off and almost led to a goal-scoring opportunity for the target man.
A mention also for Sanchez, who was caught out of position on a couple of occasions but made a number of important interceptions and looked at home stationed between Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. He'll be especially important in the games to come, especially as Vertonghen was harshly sent off in stoppage time.
Yarmolenko proves his worth
Andriy Yarmolenko has been linked with most of Europe’s top clubs in his career but never made the move from Dynamo Kiev until this summer, when he took up the No 9 shirt at Dortmund.
Despite starting to the left of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he was at the centre of all the early good work Dortmund go through in attacking areas, linking with Shinji Kagawa and Lukasz Piszczek on numerous occasions to cause left-back Ben Davies all sorts of trouble.
His goal, an equaliser at the time after 10 minutes, was cushioned perfectly past Hugo Lloris after yet more intricate build-up play. Should a Premier League team have looked more closely at Yarmolenko this summer, perhaps?
Spurs rise to Pochettino’s challenge…
Pochettino challenged his Spurs side to close the gap on Europe’s top teams like they’ve done in the Premier League and make an impression in the Champions League. He pointed out how easily Spurs were beaten in their opener against Monaco last season and demanded an improvement.
And that’s exactly what he got. Son scored a brilliant solo effort after only three minutes to get the ball rolling but Yarmolenko’s equaliser had all the potential to knock the stuffing out of not only the players, but the fans too.
But Spurs’ reaction was fantastic, with Kane restoring the lead. And he got his second at another crucial time, when Dortmund looked like they were about to get an equaliser. It was seemingly a signal to Pochettino that the side were ready to make an impression on the continent.
… and do their best to follow Dortmund’s example
Ahead of the game, The Independent’s Chief Football Writer Miguel Delaney wrote an article explaining how Dortmund are a potential vision of Tottenham’s future.
He wrote: “Both clubs have successfully defied the economic realities of their competitions to significantly overachieve; both clubs have done so through a very distinctive style and identity that has only deepened the sense of impact; both clubs have had to resist interest from all the bigger sharks as a consequence of all that.”
Dortmund are some way ahead of Spurs in the long-term, of course, having made it to the business end of the Champions League for several successive seasons now. But Tottenham will take encouragement that they are on the right track not only from this performance but from the Uefa Youth League match between the two clubs, prior to kick-off.
Tottenham’s youth team were superb, running out 4-0 winners at home, with the 18-year-old wonderkid Marucs Edwards scoring a superb solo goal. The future is looking incredibly bright for Tottenham and perhaps they are not too far away from replicating Dortmund’s recent success.