Draw at Real shows Spurs ‘can handle’ highest level

Harry Kane

Tottenham scored their first goal against Real Madrid after failing to score in their previous four meetings

Tottenham Hotspur showed they “can handle” playing at the highest level, striker Harry Kane said after his team took a big stride towards the Champions League knockout phase with a point at Real Madrid.

Spurs made the 12-time European champions fight back for a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.

The Premier League side led when Kane’s clever run forced Madrid defender Raphael Varane to divert Serge Aurier’s right-wing cross into his own net.

The Spanish champions equalised before half-time when Aurier’s rash challenge on Toni Kroos was punished with a penalty, Cristiano Ronaldo drilling in to extend his tally as the leading scorer in Champions League history.

“A point at the Bernabeu, you would take that every day of the week. It shows how far we have come as a team,” Kane, 24, said.

“We are happy. Of course they are going to have chances but we played well and made it tough for them.”

The home side increased their urgency immediately after the break as Spurs were pinned back, with visiting keeper Hugo Lloris producing stunning acrobatic saves to deny Karim Benzema and Ronaldo.

However, Spurs grew back into the contest and Kane – who has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu this week – almost scored a winner for the Premier League side.

The England striker found himself clean through on goal with 20 minutes left, but was denied by a superb fingertip save from keeper Keylor Navas.

The result moved Tottenham ahead of Madrid at the top of Group H at the halfway stage, having now scored more away goals than their opponents who also have seven points.

Significantly, the English side’s hopes of reaching the last 16 for only the second time were strengthened by Apoel Nicosia’s 1-1 home draw against Borussia Dortmund.

Tottenham are six points clear of 2013 finalists Dortmund and Cypriot side Apoel, who have both already lost to Spurs and remain winless.

Spurs show Real maturity

Travelling to face Europe’s most successful club in the imposing 81,000-capacity Bernabeu – where the home side had won 21 and drawn two of their previous 23 Champions League group games – has long been a daunting experience for visiting teams.

Spurs themselves suffered a hiding there in 2011, losing 4-0 in their quarter-final first leg, but returned with boss Mauricio Pochettino urging his vibrant team – last season’s Premier League runners-up – to prove they could compete with Europe’s elite.

They did exactly that in a disciplined display.

Spurs, backed by almost 4,000 supporters in the Spanish capital, had been given further optimism of a positive result by Madrid’s patchy home form.

Zinedine Zidane’s side have only won one of their four La Liga home matches this season, struggling to find a way through teams who sit back and defend deep.

Pochettino said before kick-off it was important for his team “to be brave”, illustrated by the Argentine’s surprising decision to start Spain striker Fernando Llorente up front alongside talisman Harry Kane for the first time.

At times the visitors had to defend in numbers – only to be expected against a side containing so much quality – and had the moments of luck needed by any team who leave the Bernabeu with anything.

But they also wisely chose their moments to attack their illustrious hosts, showing a maturity perhaps not seen by their supporters in recent European campaigns.

A point was no less than they deserved and will give them further confidence before the rematch at Wembley in a fortnight.

“It puts us in a great position and shows we can handle it at this level,” Kane added.

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