BARCELONA: Tottenham earned a huge 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund to put one foot in the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, while reigning champions Real Madrid snatched a 2-1 win at Ajax.
Son Heung Min, Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente’s goals gave Spurs a commanding last 16 first leg lead at Wembley, with Dortmund collapsing in the final stages.
In Amsterdam, Ajax had Real Madrid under the cosh for the first half but Karim Benzema blasted the visitors ahead after being set up by the electric Vinicus Junior.
Hakim Ziyech equalised for Ajax but Marco Asensio struck with three minutes remaining to give Madrid an advantage ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Tottenham forward Lucas Moura whistled a volley narrowly wide of Dortmund’s goal as Spurs threatened early on, even without injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
Hugo Lloris fielded Axel Witsel’s drive from the edge of the box well and English winger Jadon Sancho began to trouble the Tottenham defence.
French goalkeeper Lloris was forced into a superb save from Dan-Axel Zagadou header, after Sancho whipped a dangerous ball in from the right.
Less than two minutes after the restart, Son sent Tottenham ahead,volleying home superbly from Jan Vertonghen’s whipped cross.
The South Korean forward has been in sublime form, with 11 goals in his last 11 games for Tottenham across all competitions.
It was the perfect start to the second half for Tottenham, whose confidence grew and they began to control the game. Man-of-the-match Vertonghen doubled the Premier League side’s lead in the 83rd minute, sliding in to finish from Serge Aurier’s cross, with Llorente nodding in from a corner three minutes later to give Spurs full control of the tie.
“They looked very strong and had the better of the game but in the second half we were able to turn it around,” Vertonghen told BT Sport.
“They dropped off a bit then that early goal in the second half helped. We had the confidence to keep going.”
“We were able to keep them quiet in the second half and they weren’t able to be clinical. The game changed in the second half definitely.”
In Amsterdam, Santiago Solari, who has revived Real Madrid since taking over from Julen Lopetegui in October, opted for Gareth Bale on the right flank after the Welshman scored his 100th goal for the club as a substitute in Saturday’s Madrid derby.
In the opening exchanges the winger was forced to play deep in his own half as Ajax penned Real Madrid in, but Vinicius Junior forced a fine save from Andre Onana at the other end on the break.
Ajax almost took the lead when Dustan Tadic fired in a shot which beat Thibaut Courtois but cracked against the post.
Then the Belgian stopper produced a brilliant save from Hakim Ziyech, but he needed VAR to save him after a terrible mistake that saw Ajax go in front, but the goal eventually ruled out.
Courtois spilled the ball instead of catching it and Nicolas Tagliafico netted from close range, but the goal was eventually ruled out because Dusan Tadic was deemed to be offside and interfering with play just in front of the goalkeeper.
“The correct decision? I think so. When it happened I thought it could be offside. When the guy headed it I wanted to go and catch it,” said Courtois. “It was lucky VAR was there as nobody would have seen it.”
Madrid took the lead against the run of play in the second half with Vinicius doing brilliantly to set up Benzema, who rifled home on the hour mark. However Ziyech pulled Ajax level with a neat finish after good work on the left from David Neres, who squared for him. — dpa