Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino revelled in his side’s navigation of a must-win fixture after Spurs reignited their Champions League campaign with a gritty victory against CSKA Moscow.
While the north London club were far from their fluent best, forward Son Heung-min continued his blistering goalscoring streak with a second-half clincher, taking his tally to five strikes in as many matches.
A first success in this season’s competition, coupled with Monaco’s 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen, saw Tottenham move to second place in Group E, one point behind their French rivals.
“For us it was very important. This was a must-win game and we are second in the group now, although it is still open,” said Pochettino. “It was very important to get our first victory in the Champions League to try and see things differently.
“It was a very tough game. CSKA are a very difficult team to play against. We played much better and in the end thoroughly deserved the victory. Always we work very hard and we’re happy to get an important victory to be in the race for the next round.”
In an opening devoid of clear-cut chances, former Manchester United winger Zoran Tosic blazed high and wide after Jan Vertonghen’s weak clearance fell invitingly for him on the edge of the penalty area.
Finland midfielder Roman Eremenko was next to threaten as he cheekily attempted to catch out Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at his near post although the Frenchman was a match for the attempt.
As the game livened in intensity with half time approaching, former MK Dons midfielder Dele Alli thumped the top of CSKA’s crossbar after sheer persistence from playmaker Christian Eriksen kept a fading Tottenham move alive.
Tosic whistled an effort past the post in the early stages of the second period before Spurs surged into a 71st minute lead as Son’s shot, from Erik Lamela’s through ball, squirmed beyond CSKA stopper Igor Akinfeev.