Tottenham assistant manager, Cristian Stellini, bemoaned a trend Spurs keep repeating, and revealed Antonio Conte’s reaction to their nail-biting victory in Marseille.
With Antonio Conte sat in the stands following his touchline ban, Tottenham survived a huge scare to book their place in the Champions League Round of 16 on a dramatic night of action in Group D.
Spurs required either a draw or a win in Marseille to qualify for the knockout rounds. However, in typical Tottenham fashion, it was far from straightforward.
Chancel Mbemba put Marseille in front on the stroke of half time when thundering home a headed effort from a corner. Spurs were caught cold at the set piece, with the goal they conceded one they won’t wish to see again.
However, the visitors showed true grit and determination after the break and hauled themselves back on level terms in the 54th minute.
Clement Lenglet headed home an Ivan Perisic set piece, but the drama was far from over.
With all four of Spurs, Marseille, Sporting Lisbon and Frankfurt interchanging live positions throughout the night, Tottenham finally removed all doubt in the fifth minute of injury time.
An exhausted Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scampered away on the break and rifled a fantastic effort in off the post to hand Tottenham all three points and secure top spot in Group D.
Following Frankfurt’s victory away in Portugal, the German side finished as group runners-up, with Sporting dropping into the Europa League and Marseille out of everything altogether.
Tottenham hamstrung by familiar issue
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Cristian Stellini said: “The performance is… we have to analyse it because we repeat the same routine in the last three or four games.
“We start not well in the first half. We didn’t use power or intensity and let them play too much in our half and lose the pitch and let them have control of the game.
“The second half when we change to a 3-5-2 we had more control of the game. We played a good second half.”
When asked if he enjoyed being the main man with Conte sat in the stands, a smiling Stellini joked: “I enoy it when we win!”
“But these [players] deserve to win because we are a good team and we have to show it for 90 minutes.
“We have to work again and do our best for all the game and not lose a half every game.”
Stellini then revealed he’d already spoken to Conte after the match and prior to his interview.
“He’s tired,” added Stellini. “Being in the crowd for him is not normal. He used a lot of energy… it’s better to be on the touchline to live the game like a player.”
Tottenham’s reward for topping the group with 11 points will – in theory – be an easier tie in the Round of 16 stage.
The same cannot be said of Liverpool who finished runners-up in Group A despite amassing 15 points from a possible 18.
The draw for the Round of 16 will take place on Monday, November 7.
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