Tottenham 3-1 CSKA Moscow: Spurs win at Wembley to claim Europa League spot
Tottenham's winless Wembley run is over but their Europa League campaign has just begun after Mauricio Pochettino's men sealed a 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow.
CSKA striker Alan Dzagoev gave the visitors a surprise early lead but goals from Dele Alli and Harry Kane put Spurs in front at half-time before an Igor Akinfeev own-goal completed a comfortable victory.
Tottenham's hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 had already vanished but this result means they finish third in Group E and will now drop into Europe's second tier tournament.
It also ends the club's miserable six-game losing streak at Wembley, where they will continue to host games in the Europa League and, more importantly, are due to play all their home fixtures next season.
Wembley has proven the undoing of Spurs' Champions League campaign, with consecutive defeats to Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen proving ultimately fatal to their hopes of progress, but at least this dominant display will offer some encouragement they can eventually make the place feel like home.
The attendance of 62,034 was more than 20,000 down on the 85,512 - a record for an English club at home - that turned out to watch Spurs lose to Leverkusen under the iconic arch but perhaps higher than many had predicted given the circumstances.
They may struggle to attract similar crowds in the Europa League, which has proven so difficult to balance with the Premier League in recent seasons and where the team have failed to go past the quarter-finals in any of their last eight attempts.
A recurring theme of Tottenham's Champions League campaign has been paying the price for missed chances and it looked like a repeat was on the cards here when Dzagoev gave CSKA the lead with their first shot on target.
For the previous 32 minutes, Spurs had dominated their opponents in terms of both possession and chances but they just lacked that killer instinct when the goal appeared at their mercy.
Alli and Christian Eriksen were the most influential but also most guilty, the former heading the latter's cross wide early on and then Eriksen should have scored when played through by Kane, but instead shot straight at Akinfeev.
Tottenham continued to pour forward with purpose but Alli failed to finish another golden opportunity after Eriksen had flicked Danny Rose's quick throw into his path, Akinfeev this time collecting a scuffed half-volley.
There was some inevitability in CSKA punishing Spurs' wastefulness although they also enjoyed a stroke of luck as Zoran Tosic looked offside when he headed on a long ball for Dzagoev to drive past Hugo Lloris.
A deflated hush enveloped Wembley but before any frustration could grow, the home side were level.
This time Kyle Walker looked offside as he played in Eriksen, whose lifted cross to the back post was misjudged by Kirill Nababkin, allowing Alli time to touch down and bend the ball into the far corner. It was his first goal in nine appearances.
Tottenham were back in charge and on the stroke of half-time they took the lead, Eriksen again involved as his ball set free Rose, who crossed first time for Kane to tap into an open net.
In the second half, Pochettino introduced first the rarely-used Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and then Toby Alderweireld, who drew the most enthusiastic cheer of the night as he took to the field in the 68th minute for the first time in almost eight weeks following a knee injury.
Alli ballooned a finish over the bar soon after and Eriksen hit the post with a driven free-kick, before scooping the ball over the top only for Akinfeev to deny Kane's extravagant volley.
The CSKA goalkeeper, whose Champions League record streak without a clean sheet now stretches to 39 games, looked to have pulled off another strong save when he clawed out Alli's free header with 13 minutes left. The ball, however, cannoned off his right foot and into his own net.
It sealed a miserable night for CSKA, whose manager Leonid Slutsky will now leave the club, while for Tottenham, finally some Wembley success.
We look at five talking points ahead of the match.
1. Europa League prize or punishment?
Do Tottenham really want to qualify for the Europa League? They only need a draw against Moscow to ensure they finish third in Group E, which would secure them a place in the last 32 of Europe's second-tier competition. Mauricio Pochettino insists the Europa League offers another chance for a trophy and will give youngsters an opportunity to impress but Thursday night fixtures will certainly take their toll on Spurs' Premier League ambitions. It will be interesting to see what team Pochettino sends out.
2. A chance to end Wembley woes?
The reason for Tottenham's failure to reach the Champions League last 16 is simple: their miserable form at home. Two defeats at Wembley against Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco left Pochettino's players with too much to do and prompted awkward questions about the pressure of playing at the national stadium. Tottenham are due to play all their home fixtures at Wembley next season, while their new stadium is completed, and need to end a run of six consecutive defeats there as soon as possible. A struggling CSKA side would appear to offer an excellent opportunity.
3. Attendance dip?
Two record crowds for an English club at home against both Monaco and Leverkusen have meant the Wembley experiment has at least been a commercial success for Tottenham. The players have also enjoyed a vibrant atmosphere under the iconic arch but it remains to be seen how many turn out to watch on Wednesday. Spurs, after all, are already out and some fans may well view defeat as a blessing in disguise if it were to ensure their team avoided the dreaded Europa League. A record 85,512 watched Tottenham's last match at Wembley against Leverkusen. It is unlikely to be as high this time.
4. Alderweireld back at last
Toby Alderweireld has been sidelined for almost eight weeks with a knee injury and how Tottenham have missed him. Arguably their star player last season, Alderweireld provides Spurs with composure in defence but also a starting point to their attacks, with his pin-point long passes a regular source of penetration in the final third. Pochettino says the Belgian will be back in the squad at Wembley and while he is most likely to start on the bench, any involvement is a positive sign, particularly with a tough trip to Manchester United to come on Sunday.
5. Slutsky's last hurrah
CSKA announced on Tuesday that the game against Tottenham would be the last for their manager Leonid Slutsky, who is to leave after seven years at the club. Slutsky guided CSKA to three Premier League titles and two domestic cups and while his departure has not come as a surprise, it might well inspire the CSKA players to ensure their boss goes out on a high. Monaco and Leverkusen both proved how Wembley can give opposition teams a lift and Spurs will hope Slutsky's final game in charge does offer cause for further motivation on Wednesday.
Belfast Telegraph Digital