Pochettino has qualifying ‘belief’ after Kane keeps hopes alive

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Manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham can qualify for the Champions League knockout stage after coming back from the brink of elimination during their win against PSV Eindhoven.

With 12 minutes remaining Spurs looked down and out before Harry Kane helped turn his side’s fortunes around with two goals.

Their first win of the competition this season means the Premier League side sit third in Group B, three points behind second-placed Inter Milan, who come to Wembley next. Spurs then travel to Spain to face Barcelona in the Nou Camp.

“If we can beat Inter then we will both have seven points,” said the Argentine. “Then in one game anything can happen. We will go to Barcelona [for the final group match] to try to win the game. The belief is still there. I am so optimistic.”

Tottenham trailed to Luuk de Jong’s towering header, powered past goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, in for suspended Hugo Lloris, after 61 seconds.

They were then frustrated by a superb display from PSV keeper Jeroen Zoet, who kept them at bay with a mixture of brilliance and good fortune, utilising all parts of his body to make a succession of crucial saves.

And then, with time running out Kane, as so often before, came to their rescue, leaving their fate in their own hands but with tough tasks to come in their final two games.

The England striker brought the disgruntled home fans alive with a low shot that finally broke the defiant resistance of Zoet – then fashioned a victory that looked unlikely for such a long time when his close-range header was deflected past Zoet by substitute Trent Sainsbury with one minute left.

Spurs may still be outsiders to make progress from Group B – they may need to win both their remaining fixtures – but it is thanks to their captain fantastic Kane that they are still in a position to navigate a route through to the knockout phase of the Champions League.

This was a tough, attritional night for Spurs, who were nowhere near their best and confronted by opponents in the Dutch champions who got exactly what they wanted with that early goal and set about protecting it as if their lives depended on it.

Pochettino’s side were off colour and even the hugely popular manager felt the fury of the home gallery when his decision to substitute the dangerous Lucas Moura with Erik Lamela was greeted by loud jeering around Wembley.

It was approaching crisis time for Spurs as PSV held out but once again it was Kane who was their man of the moment, shrugging off what had been a sluggish personal performance up to that point to ensure he was the architect of what may yet prove to be a crucial win.

Kane was the predator in the box for the first and then produced the header that took that vital deflection off Sainsbury to end what had been a night of frustration in sheer elation. It also ended PSV’s hopes of qualification.

A word of praise, too, for keeper Gazzaniga, given the vote over Michel Vorm in Lloris’s absence. He produced crucial saves when needed and certainly played his part in keeping Spurs in the hunt for a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.


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