Tottenham qualify for last 16 as late Moura goal earns draw at Barcelona

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Lucas Moura scores the equaliser which sent Tottenham through to the Champions League knockout stages (AP).

BARCELONA, December 12: Tottenham came back from the brink in the Champions League on Tuesday as Lucas Moura’s late equaliser salvaged a 1-1 draw against Barcelona and sent them through to the last 16.
Lionel Messi was left out of a heavily-rotated Barca line-up at the Camp Nou but Ousmane Dembele’s stunning early goal looked set to put Spurs out, until Moura intervened.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side only had to match Inter Milan’s result at home to PSV Eindhoven in Group B, which they did, as the Italians only managed a 1-1 draw themselves.
It made for a night of exhilarating drama, climaxing in the final five minutes when Tottenham must have wondered whether to push for a winner or hold on to what they had.
At the final whistle, their players faced an agonising 30 seconds, only for a roar in one of the stadium’s deepest corners to tell them the whistle had blown in Italy.
“No-one believed in us,” Pochettino said. “People said it was mission impossible but we are here. It is a massive achievement for the club.”
Barcelona’s coach Ernesto Valverde may not be popular with Inter supporters after he rested several key players, including Messi, but his team already had first place wrapped up.
“We qualified quickly and that speaks for itself,” Valverde said. On Messi, who came on shortly after the hour, he added: “It’s good to keep him busy,”
Besides, Dembele scored a goal of which the Argentinian would have been proud, his brilliant run and finish providing the perfect riposte to more reports of indiscipline from the 21-year-old this week.
“It was a great goal, the kind only players with his talent can score,” Valverde said. “We are happy with him.”
When Barcelona crashed out in the quarter-finals in April, Valverde took much of the blamof lesser importance.
Perhaps he listened, because while Messi’s absence was the key point of relief for Tottenham, Jordi Alba and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, both excellent in recent weeks, were also left on the bench.
Spurs, though, were also unfamiliar, at right-back, where Kyle Walker-Peters made his Champions League debut and it was the 21-year-old’s error in the sixth minute that gave Dembele a sniff.
He robbed the ball and tore away, brushing off Walker-Peters again before brilliantly dummying a late Harry Winks dive and finishing past Hugo Lloris. (AFP)