Oh, what a night in north London as Tottenham and Sporting CP fought to a dramatic 1-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Antonio Conte’s Spurs remain in control of Group D but have yet to secure passage into the knockout stage of the competition.
Spurs were dire in the first forty-five minutes of action in the English capital and would eventually go 1-0 down after former Tottenham academy product Marcus Edwards, now a star in the Portuguese capital put the visitors in front with a well-struck effort from outside the area after picking the ball up and progressing play before he let fly from range.
It would have been a hard pill to swallow for the Premier League side but Conte’s men bounced back in the second half and upped their level of play considerably, wrestling control away from Rúben Amorim’s Leões but initially were unable to make their dominance count.
That would eventually change in the 80th minute when standout midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur headed home after an inswinging corner from Ivan Perišić narrowly evaded the outstretched punching attempt by Antonio Adán before the Uruguay international leveled matters.
Tottenham was fully in the ascendancy before the equalizer and remained as such, but tonight will be defined by what could have been after club icon Harry Kane and the entire Spurs fandom though the potential all-time club record goalscorer bagged the match-winner from less than two yards out with the last kick of the game. The resulting video review by VAR judged the England star to be offside despite the ball being nodded back by Emerson which makes the decision even that much more contentious.
In the resulting outburst, Conte was given his marching orders by the match official and will not be on the touchline when Tottenham locks horns with Olympique de Marseille on matchday six with Group D separated by just two points overall.
Should Spurs lose on their jaunt to the south of France and one of Eintracht Frankfurt or Sporting CP win in Lisbon, Tottenham would join the likes of Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Juventus, Sevilla, and AFC Ajax in dropping down to the Europa League.
As things stand, should such a frustrating result occur, fans will undoubtedly look back on Kane’s disallowed goal - and a host of other spurned chances in the second half - as the club’s defining moment in Europe this season.
Tottenham Player Ratings
GK: Hugo Lloris (7) - Lloris can hardly be held to account for Edwards’ well-struck effort and, overall, he performed well in goal all things considered tonight.
RCB: Cristian Romero (7) - Booked for a hard tackle that on another night may have produced a different color, Romero was stout in defense as usual.
CB: Eric Dier (6) - Frustrating for the England international who is guilty of spurning multiple guilt-edged chances from close range that could have sealed all three points for Spurs before Kane’s disallowed winner.
LCB: Ben Davies (6.5) - Another call on the night that saw an unexpected change was Davies in for summer acquisition Clément Lenglet. Davies was pretty okay overall, as he typically is when called into action.
RWB: Matt Doherty (6.5) - A satisfactory evening from Doherty, who came fingertips away from scoring the equalizer for Spurs before being promptly replaced by Gil in the 71st minute.
CM: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (7) - The Dane was good once again in midfield alongside Bentancur, and offered some positive play when on the ball during certain spells as well. Solid as ever.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur (7.5) - A goal and another all-around good display from the Uruguayan international who continues to produce quality in quantity under Antonio Conte.
LWB: Ivan Perišić (7.5) - An assist for the Croatian international off the corner that found the head of Bentancur highlighted another overall strong performance from the summer signing.
RAM: Lucas Moura (6) - Given a chance in the XI tonight on a massive evening for Tottenham but the Brazilian was unable to truly inspire (due to being deployed uncharacteristically as a right wing-back) before being taken off with less than ten minutes remaining.
LAM: Son Heung-min (7) - Bright throughout but was unable to find the back of the net or turn supplier, but he did manage to test Adán and generally performed well overall.
CF: Harry Kane (6.5) - So close yet so far for the club icon and England captain. Before his disallowed goal, Kane struggled overall on the night though Sporting gave him his due respect in how they dealt with him on a tactical level.
Sub: Bryan Gil (6.5) - Came off the bench and offered a spark when driving play forward for Tottenham that eclipsed the contributions of Lucas Moura on the night.
Sub: Clément Lenglet (6.5) - seen on the bench at kick-off, Barcelona loanee Clément Lenglet still is yet to be viewed as a guaranteed first-choice option under Conte, but when he is called upon, he is generally at least decent. Tonight was more of the same.
Sub: Emerson Royal (6) - There is no shock that Conte has turned to Doherty more and more in recent weeks for big matches as Royal was average at best when introduced. Likely will be upgraded as soon as possible.
Sporting CP Player Ratings
GK: Antonio Adán (7.5) -
RCB: Gonçalo Inácio (6.5) -
CB: Sebastián Coates (7) -
LCB: Matheus Reis (6.5) -
RWB: Pedro Porro (7) -
CM: Manuel Ugarte (6.5) -
CM: Hidemasa Morita (6.5)
LWB: Nuno Santos (7.5)
RAM: Trincão (6.5)
LAM: Marcus Edwards (7.5)
CF: Paulinho (7)
Sub: Mateus Fernandes (6.5)
Sub: Flávio Nazinho (6)
Sub: Arthur Gomes (6)
Sub: Issahaku Fatawu (6)
Sub: Jeremiah St. Juste (6)