Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino refused to be downbeat despite witnessing his side cling on for a Champions League draw against Bayer Leverkusen in a match he described as “must-win”.
Spurs appeared to be on course for victory during a dominant first half only for the pendulum to swing towards Leverkusen in the second period with the visitors perhaps fortunate to escape with a point.
The stalemate, coupled with leaders Monaco’s draw with CSKA Moscow, meant Group E remained unchanged. Tottenham are a point behind the French outfit and one clear of Leverkusen – their opponents at Wembley Stadium in the next round of fixtures.
“I’m not disappointed,” said Pochettino. “After analysing the 90 minutes it was a good point for us. It was a very tough game and in the end I am pleased with the point.
“In the second half they played better than us and created more chances. We lost control of the ball and they started to dominate the game.
“[But] we need to be positive. It’s in our hands to go through to the next round. We have three games to play, two at Wembley and one in Monaco, and it’s in our hands.”
Tottenham’s European away record against German opposition read one victory in eight matches but as the first half wore on they knocked ever louder on the Leverkusen door.
Striker Vincent Janssen was denied his first Tottenham goal from open play by the assistant’s flag, before an onrushing Dele Alli failed to direct a header from former Burnley full-back Kieran Trippier’s whipped cross inside goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s post.
Shortly before the break goal-shy Janssen’s header, again from a Trippier cross, cannoned off the Leverkusen crossbar, while Erik Lamela’s rebound effort was tipped over by an alert Leno.
The reflexes of Spurs stopper Hugo Lloris were tested moments after the restart as he denied former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, who ought to have given the Frenchman no chance, on the line as Leverkusen came agonisingly close to taking the lead.
Chile midfielder Charles Aranguiz’s free-kick was turned away by Lloris, while full-back Danny Rose came to the rescue by heading over Hernandez’s volley. Shortly after the hour mark, an increasingly busy Lloris repelled Admir Mehmedi’s low 20-yard shot.
Leverkusen continued to look the most likely winners and striker Stefan Kiessling wasted a gilt-edged chance from within the six-yard box with little more than five minutes remaining.