Tottenham’s second-half surge
It is hard to say what was said at half-time to Tottenham, but whatever transpired in the locker room, a different team emerged to start the second half. Although there was only one player change, Emerson Royal came on for Sessegnon; the team was drastically different, looking to press and pressure and even attack.
Over the first 10 minutes of the second half, Tottenham dominated possession, and eventually, Harry Kane won a free kick in the attacking half. On the subsequent free-kick, Ivan Perisic played a perfect ball into the penalty area, which Clement Lenglet headed home to equalize the game and push Tottenham through to the knockout round.
As results were changing in the Sporting vs. Frankfurt game, it seemed like Marseille was now going to Europa League while Tottenham would advance. This did not suit the French side, as they pushed hard to find a winner.
As Marseille pushed more and more, gaps started appearing more and more in their defense. Hojbjerg hit the crossbar after some excellent passing, and a last-ditch tackle from Mbemba denied Kane a chance, although replays showed it probably was a foul.
Marseille did not heed the late warnings, and they paid for it in the end. As the clock ticked to less than 30 seconds left, Marseille pushed up the right flank, but Lenglet stuck his foot in and knocked the ball away and forward toward Kane. The closest Marseille defender was their coach, who was 3-4 yards onto the field and knew what was coming.
Kane turned to face and then played Hojbjerg into space in front of him. Hojbjerg dribbled to a spot that felt right and unleashed a thunderbolt that hit the good side of the post and went in for the 2-1 Tottenham lead. It was the last kick of the game, as Spurs did not even kick-off, and the game was over.
Marseille’s push for advancement cost them Europe altogether, as they finished fourth in the group and fell completely out of continental competition. Conversely, Tottenham won the group and advanced to the final 16, set to be played in the new year following the World Cup. It was a fantastic finish and a great team effort in the second half, which was enough to win the day and the group.