Hugo Lloris and Clement Lenglet commended Tottenham’s desire after a comeback victory over Marseille sealed a place in the Champions League last 16.
Spurs headed into Tuesday’s game at Stade Velodrome knowing a point would be enough to put them through, but Chancel Mbemba’s goal in first-half injury time saw them staring down the barrel of an early exit from UEFA’s elite club competition.
Yet a much-improved second-half display resulted in Antonio Conte’s side getting the job done in style, through Lenglet’s header and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s late finish.
It meant Spurs advanced as group winners for the third time in their Champions League history, and captain Lloris believes the team deserve plenty of credit for the comeback.
“We expected that type of game,” Lloris told BT Sport. “We know the Velodrome is a very difficult place to deal with and I think we showed great personality.
“Clement scored a very important goal in France in front of the French people. He helped the team to get back on track. The second goal [from] Pierre is so important to confirm first spot in the group.”
Lenglet’s first Champions League goal since scoring for Barcelona against Napoli in August 2020 helped Spurs on their way, and the defender believes the poor first half was a consequence of being unsure whether to play on the front or back foot.
“We didn’t play well during the first half, maybe because we didn’t know if we needed to attack or defend,” Lenglet commented.
“But after the first half, we speak in the locker room, we tell what we have to tell. We start the second half with much more personality, much more aggression to go to score and we play a very good second half.”
Marseille 1-2 Tottenham
Spurs had no touches in the opposition penalty area in the first half, but finished top of the group with the last kick of the game. Football. pic.twitter.com/EmiEnS7iCi
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) November 1, 2022
Conte was absent from the touchline against Marseille after being banned for his reaction to Harry Kane’s disallowed effort in Spurs’ draw with Sporting CP last week. Had that goal counted, Tottenham would have had progression assured heading into the final matchday.
Marseille, meanwhile, appeared caught between two stalls after taking the lead. A draw would have been enough to see them through, due to their head-to-head record with Sporting, but as it is the Ligue 1 giants finished last in Group D.
Lloris believes that played into Spurs’ hands, adding: “It was a tough night, a great battle.
“I think it was a more psychological battle because we could feel there was a team that was playing without fear to lose, it was Marseille. In the second half, we played a team that had the fear to lose because they were 1-0 up.
“It’s a great result without our coach. Probably, it was even more difficult for him in the stand!”