- First-half stats: 4 total shots, 1 on target
- Kampl fired Leverkusen ahead on 65 minutes
- Spurs drop to 3rd in Group E with two games to go
The 2015-16 edition of Tottenham Hotspur lived something of a charmed life, with regards to long-term injuries affecting the most central figures of the squad that chase the Premier League title into the final month of the season.
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Harry Kane and Toby Aldeweireld, both of whom are currently out injured for weeks or months (Kane is nearing his return after two months out), each started 34 of 38 league games. On Wednesday, just as they’ve done the last five games without either talisman, Tottenham struggled on both ends of the field en route to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League — in the attacking half without Kane’s mobility and link-up play, and on the other end without Aldeweireld’s commanding presence and marshalling of the defensive block.
Spurs’ best chance of the first half came on 29 minutes, when Christian Eriksen drove 40 yards through the heart of midfield before unleashing a right-footed blast from just outside the penalty area, only to see it parried away by Bernd Leno. Leverkusen so nearly took the lead two minutes before halfitme, but Jan Vertonghen came in with a spectacular, last-second block of Javier Hernandez’s teed-up sitter from 13 yards out to send the El Tri star’s shot inches wide of the post.
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Hernandez again tested the Spurs defense right on the hour mark, getting off two goal-bound shots — the first of which was blocked by Vertonghen, and the second low enough and hard enough to force Hugo Lloris into a diving save at the near post.
Five minutes later, Leverkusen made the breakthrough via Kevin Kampl. Charles Aranguiz’s initial effort was scuffed and deflected by Ben Davies, but skirted beyond the rest of the Spurs defense and fell to a wide-open Kampl at the back post, which is where he slotted the finish for Leverkusen’s deserved lead.
Eric Dier gave Spurs fans a sudden shock to the heart in the 83rd minute, when his free kick smashed the crossbar of Leno’s goal and ricocheted back down toward to the goal line. The ball never crossed the line, though, and that’s how it would end — a second straight home defeat for Mauricio Pochettino‘s side in the Champions League.