Barcelona finished their group stage campaign in the Champions League with a 1-1 draw that qualified their opponents Tottenham Hotspur to the Round of 16. Ousmane Dembélé scored a ridiculous early goal, Lucas Moura equalized late, and since Inter Milan couldn’t beat PSV Eindhoven at home, Spurs moved on to the knockout stage. Crazy night.
The game started as expected: Spurs needed the win and sent a lot of bodies forward to try and score an early goal, and they thought they had a big chance on a free-kick, but after the ball was cleared, Kyle Walker-Peters lost it to Ousmane Dembélé in midfield and the Frenchman went on a 60-yard run that ended with an insane dribble move on Harry Winks and an amazing finish under Hugo Lloris for a spectacular opener.
Barça’s early goal forced Spurs to try even harder to score, which hurt their organization and creativity in midfield. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli had trouble finding spaces in the final third, and Harry Kane was absent for pretty much the whole half. The only chances Spurs had came from mistakes by the Blaugrana backline, and the biggest saw Heung-Min Son clear in front of goal but his shot was stopped by Jasper Cillessen.
There wasn’t much offensive prowess from Barça either, but Philippe Coutinho had a highlight just before halftime when he ran through the whole Tottenham defense and hit the post. At the end of the half, the home team had the lead and Spurs had 45 minutes to avoid going to the Europa League.
Tottenham started the second half with real purpose, as Harry Kane, Eriksen and Son all had three big chances. Cillessen made great saves in two of them, but Spurs really took control of the action early on. Despite Lionel Messi coming on for Barça, things didn’t change much and Spurs continued to pile on the pressure. Cillessen continued to make ridiculous saves, including one where he cleared a Lucas header just before it crossed the line.
As we reached the final 15 minutes and Inter Milan scored in Italy to take second place in the group, Tottenham knew they had to throw caution to the wind for good and just find a way to score, and Mauricio Pochettino rolled the dice one last time with Fernando Llorente replacing Winks in midfield.
Coutinho had a chance to kill the game with his classic cut into the right foot and curling shot to the far post, but the ball hit the woodwork. And with the following counter attack, Harry Kane assisted Lucas Moura for a huge equalizer that was sending Spurs into the knockouts as things stood.
The final whistle came at Camp Nou, and Tottenham had to wait a few minutes to find out whether Inter would score a winner. They didn’t, and Spurs join Barça in the Round of 16. Considering all the changes Valverde made and how desperate Spurs were in the second half, this was a good performance from the boys. Well done.
Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo, Lenglet, Vermaelen, Miranda; Aleñá, Rakitic (Busquets), Arthur; Dembélé (Denis), Munir (Messi), Coutinho
Goal: Dembélé (7’)
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker-Peters (Lamela), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Sissoko, Winks (Llorente), Eriksen; Alli; Son (Lucas), Kane
Goal: Lucas (85’)