Tottenham sink Marseille to reach Champions League last 16
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scored with the last kick of the game as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to beat Marseille 2-1 on Tuesday and qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.
Hojbjerg broke away to finish emphatically in the fifth minute of injury time, sealing a Spurs comeback that means they progress as Group D winners while Marseille are eliminated from Europe altogether.
Clement Lenglet had earlier headed the Premier League side back on level terms after a Chancel Mbemba goal had given Marseille the lead at the break.
Hojbjerg’s last-gasp strike allowed Antonio Conte’s team to leapfrog Eintracht Frankfurt, who also advance after a 2-1 win away to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.
It was a pulsating contest at the Velodrome and it could have gone either way, with Marseille left to regret a crucial late miss by substitute Sead Kolasinac.
Had he scored rather than send a back-post header wide of the post, Marseille would have gone into the last 16. Instead Hojbjerg’s late strike condemned them to bottom spot in the section.
The result was earned in adversity for the Premier League side, who were without the presence on the touchline of the suspended Conte and also lost Son Heung-min to a head injury in the first half.
It was also quite a contrast to a week ago, when they were denied victory over Sporting after VAR ruled out Harry Kane’s last-gasp goal.
That meant Tottenham travelled to the south of France still requiring a point to secure qualification for the last 16, while Conte was serving a ban after being shown a red card in the aftermath of the Sporting draw.
Conte’s assistant Cristian Stellini was therefore officially in charge here while Conte sat in the stands at the Velodrome.
The visitors’ preparations had also been disturbed after Marseille fans let off fireworks outside their hotel in the early hours of Tuesday in an attempt to deprive their rivals of precious sleep.
However, the atmosphere inside Marseille’s raucous stadium was a little less boisterous than usual because the whole north end of the Velodrome was shut as a punishment by UEFA following trouble at their earlier group game against Frankfurt.
Son forced off
Igor Tudor’s team were also dealt an early blow when their former Manchester United centre-back Eric Bailly came off with a hamstring injury.
Yet they started strongly and Hugo Lloris had to turn an Alexis Sanchez shot behind for a corner before the Spurs captain was forced into an even better save just past the half-hour mark from a vicious Jordan Veretout attempt.
By that point the Premier League side had already lost Son, who was left looking decidedly groggy after suffering a head knock in an aerial challenge with Mbemba, and had to come off.
Imposing Congolese defender Mbemba then opened the scoring in the second added minute at the end of the half, rising unmarked at the back post to connect with a Veretout cross and beat Lloris with a towering header. The noise that greeted the goal was deafening.
Spurs offered nothing at all until a Kane shot was tipped over by Marseille goalkeeper Pau Lopez in the 53rd minute of a first half lengthened due to the treatment required by Son.
Yet half-time allowed a reset, and Tottenham drew level nine minutes after the restart as an Ivan Perisic set-piece delivery from the left was headed in by French international centre-back Lenglet.
Now Conte’s team were heading through, but the game –- and their qualification –- remained on a knife-edge.
Kane had a goal disallowed for offside before Hojbjerg crashed a shot off the bar 10 minutes from time.
They might have regretted that had one-time Arsenal defender Kolasinac converted his chance, and instead Hojbjerg had the last laugh.