Football News

Ivan Perisic proves vital once again as Tottenham seal Champions League last 16 spot with comeback win vs Marseille

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:35, 1 November 2022

Ivan Perisic was once again the man to herald after Tottenham Hotspur secured their spot in the last 16 of the Champions League thanks to a 2-1 win over Marseille.

Antonio Conte’s men went into their final game of the group stage knowing a draw in France would be enough to seal passage into the knockout round and although they eventually won, in pure Tottenham fashion they didn’t make it easy for themselves.

Missing their manager on the touchline after his sending off in the draw with Sporting CP last week, Tottenham suffered one of their worst first halves of the season, offering very little in terms of troubling the Marseille defence. They had just two shots, only one of which hit the target, and they both came in the final minutes of the first half.

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Tottenham also failed to have a single touch in the opposition box, just the third time a team had managed that in the first half of a Champions League game this season, joining Rangers and Maccabi Haifa. And they failed to score in the first half yet again, the fifth time they had done so in the Champions League this season, with no team failing to score in more.

But to make everything worse for Tottenham, that first half also saw Marseille take the lead. It was a move that Tottenham could have easily prevented had they been switched on. Ryan Sessegnon thought he was shepherding the ball out of play for a goal kick but it had taken a nick off Yves Bissouma on the way, and the referee rightly pointed for a corner.

The set piece was taken quickly to Jordan Veretout who whipped a beautiful cross into the box where Chancel Mbemba was unmarked and directed a header past Hugo Lloris. At half-time, Tottenham were staring the Europa League in the face and had also lost Son Heung-min to what appeared to be a head injury.

But within 10 minutes of the start of the second half, Tottenham were level and once again they had Perisic to thank. It was the Croatian’s excellent delivery from the free-kick which was headed in by Clement Lenglet, putting Tottenham back in control of the group.

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After going through a barren run, Perisic has now assisted in each of his past three Tottenham appearances, and all have been pretty important and from set pieces. His first of the run set up Rodrigo Bentancur for Tottenham’s equaliser in last week’s draw against Sporting CP and then at the weekend he assisted Ben Davies, also the equaliser against Bournemouth as the North London side recovered from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

Overall, Perisic has recorded seven assists across all competitions, more than any other Tottenham player. Perisic also came in with an excellent block on an Alexis Sanchez shock in the final 10 minutes which helped preserve Tottenham’s position. Harry Kane did set up Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg deep into injury time with Marseille pushing for the win, which Hugo Lloris believes showed Tottenham’s personality.

“To be honest, we expected that type of game. It was a very difficult place to deal with and I think we showed great personality,” he told BT Sport

“In the second half we had a good game and Clement Lenglet scored an important goal in France in front of the French people and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is so important to confirm that top of the group.

“It was a tough night, a great battle and even more psychological battle because we could feel in the first half a team was playing without the fear to lose, it was Marseille, and in the second half we had a team that was fearing to lose and it was us.

“Also I believe that when we had to face difficulties, we showed great personality and it’s a great result.

“Without our coach it was even more difficult for him in the stand and it’s a great winning team – that’s the most important thing.”