Dele Alli returned from a three-game suspension to register a lanrace as Tottenham Hotspur managed to down defending champions Real Madrid 3-1 in a pulsating UEFA Champions League game at Wembley Stadium.
The first leg played at the Santiago Bernabeu had seen Spurs come away with a valuable point, somewhat luckily as their goalkeeper Hugo Llloris singlehandedly kept Los Blancos at bay, but on Wednesday the Lilywhites were by far the dominant side at their ‘home’ stadium.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino gambled on Harry Kane’s fitness and started his star striker for a game whose winner would, in all probability, win the group.
The Lilywhites trotted out in a 3-5-2 formation, with Dele Alli playing just behind Kane as Pochettino sought to pack the midfield with Eric Dier, Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen all featuring.
Kieran Tripper and Ben Davies were the preferred wing-backs for the night and the former would prove to be a menace for the visitors as time and again, he bombed forward to create havoc.
Real, who have made an indifferent start to their La Liga campaign, were in their customary 4-3-3 formation, with talismanic forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema leading the line as in-form midfielder Isco was playing just off the duo. Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro were the familiar faces in the middle while Nacho partnered Sergio Ramos in central defence.
Los Blancos started the match on the front-foot, but Spurs found their groove and began to probe Real’s defence from a variety of angles. Trippier’s fizzing cross just evaded Alli’s touch but the second time the right wing-back bombed down the flank, Spurs would score the opener.
Alli, who was playing in European competition for the first time this season, slid in to guide Trippier’s cross past Kiko Casilla three minutes before the half-hour mark.
Real tried to respond with Ronaldo leading the charge, but Lloris stymied the Portuguese twice as Spurs rode out the storm to head into the dressing room at the interval with a slender lead.
That lead was doubled fairly early in the second-half via fortuitous circumstances via Alli again. The midfielder’s shot took a wicked deflection to send Navas the wrong way in the 56th minute.
The visitors responded with a spell of concerted pressure and came extremely close to finding their first goal of the night off a corner, but somehow Spurs managed to clear the ball and broke for a lightning-fast counter which caught Los Blancos cold.
Kane slipped in Eriksen for a one-on-one and the Danish midfielder kept his composure to beat Casilla with a composed finish in the 65th minute.
Real were made to look pedestrian by a team that just got beat by Manchester United on the weekend and while Ronaldo would reduce the deficit with close-range finish in the 80th minute, it was nothing more than a consolation goal.
Marco Asensio and Borja Mayoral had been introduced late into the second-half by Zidane but the fleet-footed youngsters didn’t have the desired effect and Madrid were lucky that the margin of their defeat was not greater.
For Alli had a chance to seal his hat-trick when the score was 3-0, but couldn’t direct his header on target.
As it stands, Spurs (12 points) have booked their place in the knockout stages of the competition with two games to spare and are in pole position to top Group H. Second-placed Real Madrid (seven points) are almost certain of qualifying as well, but the pressure is mounting on Zidane as Los Blancos look like a shadow of the team that have dominated Europe the past few years.