Dortmund enjoyed the better of an entertaining first-half with Jadon Sancho particularly lively. The 18-year-old was a constant nuisance down the right and created the best chance of the half, swinging in a cross to Dan-Axel Zagadou, which was saved by Spurs skipper Hugo Lloris in speculative fashion.
It was a lucky escape for Spurs — who came out a team reenergised in the second-half and immediately took the lead. Receiving the ball out wide on the left, Jan Vertonghen produced a magnificent cross, which Son Heung-min guided into the net with a first time volley.
And late into the game, Spurs made sure of the win in emphatic fashion. First the outstanding Vertonghen volleyed Serge Aurier's cross in at the back post. Then second-half substitute Fernando Llorente converted from Christian Eriksen's corner to send Wembley into delirium.
Here are five things we learned.
Son delivers yet again
Roberto Soldado. Vincent Janssen. Fernando Llorente. Mauricio Pochettino has experimented with a number of back-up strikers to Harry Kane over the years, without much success. But in Son Heung-min he has finally found a player good enough to stand in for the England captain when he goes down injured — even if the South Korean is used to playing in a wider position.
Son has always been one of Tottenham’s better players. But this season his influence has grown even further. In his last twelve matches he has scored 11 goals and registered five assists, becoming a genuinely talismanic figure since returning from the Asian Games last month.
It is testament to his burgeoning confidence that some of Son’s finest performances this season have come when deployed in an unfamiliar position, deployed up front on his own. He is no longer tangential to Tottenham’s play but utterly influential, a player whose importance is eclipsed only by Kane and Christian Eriksen behind him.
Sancho looks the real deal
They waited with wide eyes, bated breath and frozen fingers for his first touch of the match. Would it be a backheel? A nutmeg? A step over? Or perhaps a freakish combination of all three?
In the end, Jadon Sancho’s first major contribution to this game was to dart across Toby Alderweireld’s field of vision to smuggle the ball away, only to immediately pass it into the shins of Harry Winks. An unassuming start. Although it would turn out the teenager we have all heard so much about was getting his one mistake of the game out the way early.
We’ve all read the glut of interviews that were published earlier this week. We’ve all scrolled through the endless tide of fawning tweets every time he does something silly in the Bundesliga. And we’ve all enjoyed the techno pop soundtracked ‘DAMN! ● Crazy skillz, goals and assists ●’ Youtube compilations, which grow in number every week. But, for many English supporters, this was the first primetime opportunity to witness Sancho in the flesh, the most exciting domestic talent since Wayne Rooney had the snarling effrontery to spank one past a back-pedalling David Seaman from 30-yards out.
In his first full appearance on home soil, Sancho immediately proved that he belonged on this level, despite Dortmund's heavy defeat. Fast, threatening and forever alert to the openings of which his team-mates and opponents had little notion, he was Dortmund’s most exciting attacking outlet. Not only did he provide their best chance of the match — picking out Zagadou with an inch-perfect cross — but he also left Davinson Sanchez flat on his arse with one of his many slaloming runs forward.
“In the first half we played really well. We dropped a bit and lost focus. We need to keep focused for the whole game,” he said after the match.
“I am happy that I am home and I hope I gave the audience something they never knew about me. We will keep believing we can score more than them and hopefully we can get through to the next round.”
Vertonghen impresses out of position
Has Jan Vertonghen ever had a better game in a Spurs shirt than here tonight?
Tottenham’s injury crisis has meant that those still fit have been shuttled across a variety of different positions by a resourceful Pochettino — but few of his tactical innovations over the past two months have proved as successful as using Vertonghen as a wing-back this evening.
It was a tough match for Vertonghen. He had to repeatedly drop back to assist Alderweireld’s attempts to quell Sancho, while also rampaging forward to offer the likes of Son and Lucas Moura an option out wide. And Vertonghen excelled.
His assist for Son’s opening goal was good — a wonderful cross which the South Korean guided into the net. But his goal was even better, a volley at the back post made at full stretch to smash Serge Aurier’s cross past Roman Burki. Not bad for a defender moonlighting as a winger.
Foyth raw but risky
In Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Sanchez, Spurs are blessed with three truly elite level centre-backs, so it is testament to his quality and the impression he has made on Pochettino that 21-year-old Juan Foyth was tonight making his tenth appearance of the season, in his first Champions League match since being added to Tottenham's 25-man European squad.
Pochettino admires the youngster’s technical ability and courage — both of which were evident in the opening stages here. Surrounded by two yellow shirts on the edge of his own penalty area, the Argentinian dragged the ball back on himself, spinning past and playing a lovely sideways pass to Harry Winks.
But, buoyed by the approving round of applause which rippled around the stadium, Foyth attempted something similar a few minutes later. This time he was caught out, with Mario Gotze whipping the ball off his toes and releasing Christian Pulisic. Only a smart stop from Hugo Lloris prevented the Chelsea signing from opening the scoring.
After the match, Pochettino refused to criticise his young protege. “I am happy for him because he was fantastic today,” he said. “He is so brave, more brave than you would expect. And he made a few mistakes but only because he wanted to play. I prefer a player who wants to play.”
Lloris good … but no Banks
Sancho was the architect. Skipping into space down the right, the teenager picked out the lumbering Zagadou at the back post with a sumptuous cross.
The Frenchman climbed above Foyth to head towards goal only for the ball to skim off the Argentinian. That gave Lloris just enough time to dive across his goal line, clawing the ball away with a superb, one-handed save.
Cue the inevitable Gordon Banks comparisons. It was good. But not that good.
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