London: With Tottenham facing early Champions League elimination, Christian Eriksen came to the rescue against Inter Milan.
The Dane came off the bench in the 70th minute and made an immediate contribution to thwart an ultra-defensive Inter Milan side that only needed a draw to advance to the last-16 and eliminate Tottenham.
Eriksen scored in the 80th minute to seal a 1-0 victory at Wembley Stadium that leaves Tottenham’s fate in its own hands heading into the Group B finale at Barcelona.
“Inter came to defend, they knew one point would be better than losing,” Eriksen said, “and playing against Italian sides you don’t have many chances.”
The hard work in the lead-up to the goal was done by Moussa Sissoko, driving down the right flank and cutting past Inter players before squaring to Dele Alli. The ball was quickly laid off to Eriksen who lifted it over goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
“It was a very good move,” Eriksen said, “and I’m happy to finish it.”
Eriksen will likely get the headlines, but Sissoko received much of the praise from the two coaches.
“We had to defend better against that Sissoko run down the left,” Inter coach Luciano Spalletti. “But probably it’s the only mistake we made.”
After struggling to prove his worth since arriving in 2016, Sissoko is living up to the 30 million pound (then $40 million) fee Newcastle received for the French midfielder.
“Now everyone has seen he is doing fantastic,” Pochettino said. “His contribution is fantastic for the team in a period we need this type of performance.”
Tottenham must still beat Barcelona on December 11 at the Camp Nou to make sure of advancing to the knockout phase.
However, Barcelona has only lost once at home in the Champions League in five years, and locked in top spot with a game to spare by beating PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday to go six points clear.
Spalletti hopes Barcelona doesn’t give its stars a rest. “I’m sure Barcelona will not give anything easy to Tottenham even if they are already qualified,” Spalletti said. “Players like (Lionel) Messi, like (Gerard) Pique. I don’t even dare to have a shadow of a doubt. I’m sure they always give their best and play to win every game they play.”
Liverpool were left frustrated by Paris St Germain striker Neymar during a 2-1 Champions League loss but should have controlled their aggression better in the face of the Brazilian’s “playacting”, defender Andy Robertson has said.
The Parc des Princes contest was marked by a number of interruptions with last season’s finalists Liverpool committing 20 fouls and picking up six yellow cards, but Robertson said the French side had indulged in gamesmanship.
“I suppose they were in the lead and they were looking to waste time. You can use gamesmanship, playacting, you can use it all really,” Robertson told Sky Sports.
“I would like to know how much time they wasted ... it was frustrating. But when you play against PSG you know it’s something you’re going to come up against especially with him (Neymar). It wasn’t something we quite dealt with tonight.
“It’s frustrating when he is falling like he is. It’s all part and parcel of his game and we needed to deal with that. We didn’t quite control our aggression.”
Defeat left the English club’s hopes of reaching the last 16 hanging in the balance.