Jubilant manager Mauricio Pochettino hailed a historic win for Tottenham after his side ran riot against back-to-back European champions Real Madrid on a momentous night at Wembley.
Spurs booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League for only the second time after a Dele Alli brace and a third from Christian Eriksen ended Real's five-year, 30-game unbeaten record in the competition’s group stage.
Not since Liverpool in 2009 had an English team beaten the Spanish giants and Pochettino declared that his side’s achievement signalled their arrival among Europe’s elite.
“You’ve all seen tonight that Tottenham is a big team,” said the Argentine.
“These are really historic occasions. We now belong not only among the best in England, but in Europe.”
Pochettino reserved praise for Alli’s show-stopping performance, but urged his side to make the victory more meaningful by winning silverware at the end of the season.
“It’s fantastic to feel Alli’s best is coming,” he said.
“We need him to be at his best for what we want to achieve.
“In order to get to the next level we have to start winning things. Right now, of course we’re happy. But this means nothing if at the end of the season we haven’t won a trophy.”
Spurs were the better side throughout and were fully deserving of the lead on 25 minutes when Dele Alli poked in a wicked cross from right wing-back Kieran Trippier.
The two Englishmen had almost combined to deadly effect only 10 minutes earlier with a similar move but after flashing across goal with the first effort, Trippier this time found his man by cushioning a first-time cross into the path of Alli, making his first start in Europe this season following a ban.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema hit the target before the break but Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris collected both tame attempts with ease.
Spurs doubled their lead within 10 minutes of the restart. Alli collected in midfield, drove at a backpedalling defence and dispatched goalwards from the edge of the box. A wicked deflection off Sergio Ramos sent his effort fizzing past stand-in Real keeper Kiko Casilla’s near post.
Spurs survived a goalmouth scramble before sending the home crowd into dreamland with a third, when Eriksen cooly finished after a counter-attack executed with laser precision by Harry Winks, Alli and Harry Kane, who applied the final pass.
Alli missed the chance to score a hat-trick when he fluffed a free header but neither that nor Ronaldo’s late deflected effort via Eric Dier could diminish the status of a historic Tottenham win.