MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur grabbed an unlikely last-gasp 2-1 victory at Olympique de Marseille to reach the Champions League last 16 as Group D winners after a nerve-jangling conclusion on Tuesday.
The Londoners, who needed only to avoid defeat to go through, suffered a first-half siege and trailed to Chancel Mbemba’s header in stoppage time before the break.
However, French central defender Clement Lenglet proved to be Tottenham’s saviour when he headed in his first goal for the club in the 54th minute to bring the scores level.
Spurs, who lost forward Son Heung-min to a head injury in a torrid opening period, were a different team after the interval and took control after Lenglet’s equaliser.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg struck the crossbar for the visitors but Marseille should have scored late on when Sead Kolasinac somehow missed an open goal with a header.
Hojbjerg then sealed the victory in stoppage time to put Tottenham top of the group and leave Marseille, who at one point in the evening were top, in fourth spot and out of Europe.
Marseille’s Virage Nord section of their Stade Velodrome was closed because of crowd trouble but the noise was still deafening from the moment the game kicked off.
Only a victory would do for the home side and they set about trying to get it in frenzied fashion, swarming all over Spurs whose coach Antonio Conte had to sweat in the stands after his red card in last week’s draw with Sporting.
Former Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez almost scored in the third minute with a deft header and soon after produced a great turn to force a save from Hugo Lloris.
Lloris also kept out Jordan Veretout’s fierce volley and Tottenham’s night took a turn for the worse when Son had to go off after a nasty collision with Mbemba.
The visitors were hanging on and hoping for the halftime whistle when Mbemba rose high into the air to thump a header past Lloris from Veretout’s cross to open the scoring.
At that stage it was hard to see how Spurs could recover but they were transformed after the break.
Lenglet headed in Ivan Perisic’s pinpoint delivery to get Tottenham level and their confidence soared.
A goal would still have taken Marseille through and they came close on several occasions but Spurs wrapped it up in stoppage time when Harry Kane released Hjojberg who smashed a shot into the net to send the visiting fans into ecstasy
Tottenham won the group on 11 points with Eintracht Frankfurt on 10, Sporting with seven and Marseille on six.
(Reoporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)