However far they progress in this season's Champions League, Tottenham deserve to be remembered among the competition's great entertainers. Their eight games including the qualifying round have produced a remarkable total of 38 goals, six more coming last night amid a familiar mix of attacking spontaneity and defensive fallibility.
The upshot is a place in the draw for the first knockout round on Friday week as winners of Group A, a commendable effort in finishing ahead of the holders Internazionale. That means avoiding Barcelona and Real Madrid among others at the next stage. Three times Spurs led against the Dutch champions – who had been beaten 4-1 at White Hart Lane in September – firstly with a comical own goal, and three times they were pegged back. It was once again wonderful knockabout stuff. So a campaign that began by conceding three goals in the first half an-hour in Berne and progressed via trailing 4-0 at half-time in Milan continued along its merry way.
Come the two-leg round of 16, it will be the same approach according to the Spurs manager Harry Redknapp. "That's the way we are," he said, having got his breath back. "We've attacked, scored and conceded. We've played an open game and been positive wherever we've been." To be fair, two of the goals conceded here came from a penalty and a direct free-kick, and William Gallas at centre-half was one of Tottenham's better players.
Redknapp was entitled too to be proud of achieving more points than Inter. "A great achievement in the most difficult group of the lot," he said. "I'm not saying we're going to win the Champions League but we can give anybody a game." If there was a downside last night it was losing two midfielders to injury ahead of Sunday's game with Chelsea in Jermaine Jenas and the influential Niko Kranjcar. Jenas also collected an unnecessary yellow card for time-wasting while being taken off in the first half-hour and will be suspended for the first leg of the knockout stage.
He and Kranjcar had been brought back into the side with Vedran Corluka and Roman Pavlyuchenko following the 1-1 draw at Birmingham last Saturday. Jermain Defoe was given a starting berth in support of the Russian and justified his place ahead of Peter Crouch, the club's leading scorer in the European campaign, by doubling his total for the season with two goals in 12 minutes of the eventful second half. It was just as well that the entertainment was so heart- and hand-warming. Enschede, the small town where Steve McClaren made history last spring by leading Twente to their first Dutch title, was bitterly cold for a match which the locals knew was irrelevant to their prospects, being already destined to finish third and take a Europa League spot. The home crowd, who had given their usual spirited rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" before kick-off, were briefly subdued by the opening goal, before livening up again as a disturbance broke out in the main stand and an equaliser materialised from a twice-taken penalty.
Pavlyuchenko could claim a modicum of credit for the bizarre incident in the 12th minute. He harried Twente captain Peter Wisgerhof into a backpass that the 40 year-old goalkeeper Sander Boschker, making his Champions League debut in his 21st season at the club, completely missed. It brought to mind the former Tottenham keeper Paul Robinson's howler for England in Croatia.
It was Tottenham's first threat, Twente having gone at them in a bold 4-3-3 formation and looking much more confident than in their heavy defeat in London. The Venezuelan right-back Roberto Rosales won the penalty with a fierce volley that struck Benoît Assou-Ekotto on the elbow as he threw up an arm to protect his face. Midfielder Denny Landzaat, formerly of Wigan Athletic, initially beat Gomes to the goalkeeper's right but four players had encroached into the area as he deliberately hesitated in his run-up. He was fortunate to score from the re-take as his shot went straight down the middle of the goal.
Ten minutes later, Spurs lost Jenas with a calf strain. Aaron Lennon came on, Kranjcar moving inside, and Spurs had if anything more of the play until the interval. Pavlyuchenko produced two good efforts and a second good run down the left by Gareth Bale led to Defoe acrobatically flicking just over the bar.
Only 90 seconds into the second half, Defoe, who had scored more goals for England than Tottenham this season, restored the lead. Kranjcar crossed from the left, and Lennon set up his international team-mate for a smart finish. Another would soon follow, but, typically of this Spurs adventure, they conceded again beforehand. In the 56th minute, the widely admired Theo Janssen crossed from the left and Rosales, up from right-back, beat everyone in the air to head just inside a post.
Two minutes more and Tottenham were ahead again. Wilson Palacios, nominally the defensive midfielder, found himself in the inside-left channel for a drive that Boschker, having a bad night, only pushed out. Defoe was on the spot again.
Once again the lead did not last. Conceding a free-kick 20 yards out in almost the next Twente attack, Spurs could only watch as the Belgian midfielder Nacer Chadli curled a fine free-kick over the wall and past Gomes. Bale almost forced an own goal with a characteristic run and cross and the excitement was undiminished to the end. Long may it continue.
Twente (4-3-3): Boschker; Rosales, Wisgerhof, Douglas, Tiendalli; Landzaat, Brama, Janssen; De Jong, Janko (Vujicevic, 73), Chadli. Substitutes not used Mihaylov (gk), Bengtsson, Parker, Buyusse, Leugers, John.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2) Gomes; Corluka, Gallas, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar (Crouch, 86), Jenas (Lennon, 34), Palacios, Bale; Pavlyuchenko (Keane, 73), Defoe. Substitutes not used Cudicini (gk), Dawson, Hutton, Giovani.
Booked: Tottenham Jenas
Referee: C Velasco Carballo (Spain)
Man of the match: Kranjcar
Results: Bremen 2-2 Tottenham, Twente 2-2 Inter; Tottenham 4-1 Twente, Inter 4-0 Bremen; Inter 4-3 Tottenham, Twente 1-1 Bremen; Tottenham 3-1 Inter, Bremen 0-2 Twente; Tottenham 3-0 Bremen, Inter 1-0 Twente; Twente 3-3 Tottenham, Bremen 3-0 Inter.
Werder Bremen 3-0 Internazionale
The holders face a tricky tie in the next round after sinking to a heavy defeat at Bremen, with Sebastian Proedl, Marko Arnautovic and Claudio Pizarro on target.
Who is through?
Group A: Tottenham, Internazionale Group B: Schalke, Lyons
Group C: Manchester United, Valencia
Group D: Barcelona, Copenhagen Group E: Bayern Munich, Roma or Basle
Group F: Chelsea, Marseilles
Group G: Real Madrid, Milan
Group H: Two of Donetsk, Arsenal, Braga
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