Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino insists his side have proven they can thrive against the continent’s best after departing the Santiago Bernabeu with a valiant draw against defending European champions Real Madrid.
Spurs opened the scoring through a Raphael Varane own goal, only for Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo to draw the hosts, who have endured a stuttering start to their La Liga campaign, level before half-time.
But a point against the 12-time conquerors of Europe lifted Tottenham above Real in Champions League Group H by virtue of scoring more away goals, while they have a six-point cushion over 2013 finalists Borussia Dortmund following their draw with Apoel Nicosia.
“I am very pleased because we competed,” said Pochettino. “That was our challenge before the game; to try and believe we can compete at that level, against the most important team in the world, and I am very happy with the performance.
“The point was fantastic. It was an important draw and it puts us in a very good situation in the table. Our objective is to go to the next round but we showed ourselves that we can compete against Real Madrid. That’s very good news.”
Real’s former Manchester United forward Ronaldo crashed a fourth-minute header off Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ post, while Karim Benzema screwed the rebound horribly wide.
But Tottenham rose to the occasion and took a 28th-minute lead when Real defender Varane turned Serge Aurier’s cross into his own net after goal-hungry striker Harry Kane failed in his bid to flick the ball towards goal.
Real, however, were level by half-time as Aurier needlessly went to ground in challenging rampaging midfielder Toni Kroos and Ronaldo dispatched the subsequent spot-kick – his 110th Champions League goal.
Lloris pulled off a stunning save to repel a Benzema header from within the six-yard box nine minutes after the restart, while the Frenchman thwarted Ronaldo twice in quick succession moments later.
The pendulum of chances swung towards Tottenham and Real stopper Keylor Navas followed Lloris’ lead to deny Kane with a low finger-tip save and then Christian Eriksen when he had a clear sight of goal.