Toby Alderweireld delighted with Tottenham Hotspur’s experienced performance against Borussia Dortmund
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Belgium defender pleased to see Spurs play like adults, while Harry Kane feels they’ve sent out a statement to the rest of Europe
Toby Alderweireld says Tottenham showed they have learned important lessons in the Champions League and played like “adults” rather than “children” in their victory over Borussia Dortmund.
Spurs’ European campaign was short-lived last term but they made a winning start in Group H yesterday evening, with two goals from Harry Kane and one from Heung-min Son securing a 3-1 victory over the side currently lying top of the German league.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team had to use different tactics to their usual philosophy – instead of dominating possession and pressing high up the pitch, they had the ball for just 32 per cent of the game and spent much of the encounter defending in their own third of the field.
Yet they counter-attacked effectively and ended up having more shots than Dortmund (13 to 10), with twice as many efforts on target (four to two).
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For Alderweireld – a Champions League finalist with Atletico Madrid in 2014 – it all offered evidence that Tottenham are gaining maturity in Europe.
“We didn’t play like children, we played like adults,” he said. “When it doesn’t go our way, because we want to press and sometimes we’re a little bit late, we just stay compact to get through it - and when we got the ball, we tried to be dangerous.
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“That’s a big plus from last season. We were compact and didn’t give a lot of chances away. They had a lot of possession but we defended very well. In the second half they got more tired and we should have scored more.
“Everybody knew what we had to do. We have more experienced players and they know what to do now in those kinds of situations. They keep their heads calm and bring what they have to bring.
“We learned quick. We have to learn quick. It’s a good step from last season and a good start. It’s a very important win, at Wembley as well. We’ve played some good games here but didn’t get the points.
“Every game is different but with three points in the bag, we can be confident in the next game. We’ll see how we play there but this is a good result.”
Kane had a similar take on the match, adding: “We want to prove ourselves against the best in Europe, and we definitely did that. We played very well, we were clinical when we needed to be and I thought we deserved to win.
“It was an experienced performance from us. We’ve got to learn we can’t always press 100 per cent against the good teams, because they’ll find spaces.
“We dropped off when we needed to and caught them on the counter-attack with the spaces in behind. We learned from last year’s campaign. We said we wanted to improve our home form and we’ve done that.
“Everyone knows Dortmund are one of the best teams in Europe, and when [other teams] see we’ve won 3-1 - it probably could have been 4-1 or 5-1 as we had a couple more chances - it’s definitely a statement, and that’s what we wanted to do.
“We’re in this competition to try and get very far in it. It’s a tough group but a night like that will only help us.”
Tottenham’s victory was only their second in 12 competitive matches at Wembley, and Kane said: “We want to make this place like White Hart Lane last year, where it’s very difficult for teams to beat us. It’s a bit boost for us, a big boost for the fans, against a good Dortmund side.”
The Spurs striker’s sole disappointment was that he was unable to wrap up a treble last night before he was replaced by Fernando Llorente in the final minutes.
“I wanted to get the hat-trick,” he said. “I had a couple of chances in that second half and it would have been nice to get the first Champions League hat-trick.
“But I’m happy with the two goals. The most important thing as always is the win and I was dragging at the end there, I was tired, so the gaffer probably made the right decision [in taking me off].”
At the other end of the field, 21-year-old summer signing Davinson Sanchez passed another test in the centre of Tottenham’s three-man defence.
Alderweireld said: “He was very good I think. We tried to help him. He’s very young but for his age he’s a very quality player. He likes to learn a lot. We talk a lot to help each other, so that’s a good sign.”
Spurs suffered a late blow as Jan Vertonghen was shown a second yellow card, accidentally catching Mario Gotze with a swinging arm and picking up a suspension that rules him out of the next Champions League showdown against Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus.
His Belgian countryman Alderweireld said: “I have to see it back but I think Jan was a little bit unfortunate. Things happen in football.
“I don’t think it was in danger to use his arm or something. It was a second yellow so maybe [he misses] one game, we’ll see.”
Vertonghen himself added: “I didn’t agree with it. I had no intention of hitting him. For me it was a mistake. I was trying to win the ball, protect it, but had no intention to hit him. I think a couple of guys made too much of it.
“Still the feeling is good. It was one of the most important games for us in this competition. This is probably the team we were looking at the most so it’s good for us that we won.”
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