Son, Kane ensure Spurs keep mettle in critical Champions League win over Eintracht Frankfurt

LONDON -- Son Heung-Min's brace and Harry Kane's penalty gave Tottenham Hotspur a crucial 3-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday as Spurs took a big step toward qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Initially down early against the defending Europa League champions thanks to a goal from Daichi Kamada, Spurs rallied behind two goals from Son, both scored on either side of Kane's penalty from the spot.

Frankfurt were reduced to 10 men at the hour mark when defender Tuta was sent off for his second booking in a matter of minutes after twice fouling Son.

Faride Alidou's late header pulled one back for the German side off a corner kick, and Kane then missed a penalty in stoppage time, but Spurs held on for the win.

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The win put Antonio Conte's side top of Group D on seven points in a tight race. Marseille and Sporting CP are tied on six points, but Frankfurt also remain in the hunt on four with two games left to play.

JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Postmatch quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures

Rapid reaction

1. Son, Kane, Richarlison shine in win

Son Heung-Min inspired Tottenham to a crucial 3-2 Champions League victory against Eintracht Frankfurt on a night when Antonio Conte's front three proved too hot for last season's Europa League winners to handle.

Two goals from Son and a Harry Kane penalty -- the England captain blew the chance to make it 4-2 from the spot when he sent a second penalty over the crossbar on 90 minutes -- secured the win against Frankfurt, who lost defender Tuta to a red card on 61 minutes.

Frankfurt opened the scoring through Daichi Kamada on 14 minutes and then ensured a tense ending to the game when substitute Faride Alidou headed in to make it 3-2 on 87 minutes, but Spurs had already done enough to win the game and move top of Group D thanks to their in-form front three of Son, Kane and Richarlison.

It was Kane who created the opener for Son before putting Spurs ahead from the spot. Son's 36th-minute volley from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's cross put the game beyond Frankfurt, but while he didn't score or create any of Tottenham's goals, Richarlison's contribution was hugely important for Antonio Conte's team. The former Everton forward, playing just behind Son and Kane, was all energy and tenacity, making runs to create space for his attacking teammates.

And the space he opened up allowed Son and Kane to carve out more chances in the second half, with only goalkeeper Kevin Trapp denying the home side a more emphatic winning margin. Kane, Son and Richarlison now have 16 goals between them this season, and while Kane has more than half of them (9), the collective strength of Conte's front three was evident against Frankfurt.

2. Conte should be pleased Spurs didn't wobble

Football is full of cliches, and one of the most commonly aired is the one about Tottenham being a soft touch and a team that always crumbles when the pressure is on.

The old "Spursy" tag has faded in recent years, but under Antonio Conte, it doesn't apply, and we saw proof of that against Eintracht Frankfurt. When the Bundesliga side took a 14th-minute lead through Kamada, it looked like bad news for Spurs against a side that had won six of its past seven European away games. That run included victories at Barcelona and West Ham United on the way to winning last season's Europa League.

So Spurs faced adversity against a team accustomed to winning on the road in Europe, and conceding early also put Tottenham's Group D hopes in jeopardy. But Spurs didn't panic. On the contrary, they held their nerve and equalised through Son within six minutes of Frankfurt's opener. From that point on, Spurs were in control, and they produced a mature performance to eventually overcome a Frankfurt team built in their own image -- three at the back and plenty of pace in forward positions.

Spurs have had their wobbles this season, including a 2-0 defeat at Sporting on matchday two and the North London derby defeat against Arsenal, but they are now showing the resilient qualities that Conte demands from his teams, and that makes Tottenham a threat to the top clubs in this season's Champions League.

3. Despite win, the group remains up for grabs

Spurs took an important step toward qualifying for the knockout stages by beating Frankfurt and ending a five-game winless streak against German opposition in the Champions League, but Group D could still end up with any of the four teams finishing top -- or bottom.

With each team picking up at least one win so far, it is the tightest of all eight groups this season, and the table could be turned on its head again on matchday five next week. Spurs face Sporting at home, having lost to the Portuguese team in Lisbon, while Frankfurt will host Marseille needing to repeat their earlier victory in Stade Velodrome to retain any hope of finishing in the top two.

All four teams in the group have showcased their best and worst, so it would be foolish to predict how it will all turn out. But Spurs have put themselves in the driving seat, and they could seal qualification next week if they defeat Sporting in London, leaving the rest to fight it out for second spot on matchday six.

The good news is that all four sides have something to play for, so anything can still happen in Group D.

Player ratings

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris ; Romero 6, Dier 6, Lenglet 7; Emerson 7, Hojbjerg 7, Bentancur 6, Sessegnon 7; Richarlison 8, Kane 8, Son 9.
Subs: Skipp 6, Bissouma 6, Sanchez 6, Lucas Moura 6, Gil 6.

Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp 7; Tuta 5, Hasebe 7, N'Dicka 6; Jakic 6, Rode 6, Sow 6, Lenz 6; Lindstrom 6, Kamada 7; Kolo Muani 6.
Subs: Ebimbe 6, Smolcic 6, Alidou 7, Gotze 6, Borre 6.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Son Heung-Min, Tottenham Hotspur.

The Tottenham forward was sensational and made his early-season form slump seem a distant memory. When he is on top of his game, Son can be unplayable. He scored twice against Frankfurt and could have had a hat trick.

WORST: Tuta, Eintracht Frankfurt.

Trailing 3-1 and needing a disciplined performance to have any hope of getting back into the game, Tuta's sending off for two yellow cards on 61 minutes was a hammer blow for Eintracht. It left his team with an impossible mountain to climb.

Highlights and notable moments

That super volley from Son was among the best goals across a memorable matchday in Champions League.

Eintracht Frankfurt players lay a wreath in honour of Gian Piero Ventrone, Tottenham's fitness coach who died last week.

After the match: What the managers, players said

Tottenham's Son Heung-Min to BT Sport, on his superb second goal: "When the ball came to me, [Hojbjerg] saw me before crossing. The ball was just really clear to me and there was only one option to take the volley. I hit it really clean. I was very happy."

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, on the win: "Everything is in our hands, we have the possibility in the next game to go through which would be a big achievement because this is our target for the season, to get to the next stage of Champions League."

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

- Harry Kane has tied Steven Gerrard (21) for fifth-most goals in Champions League history among English men.

- Son Heung-Min has five career multigoal games in Champions League play, but he has never had a hat trick in the competition.

Up next

Tottenham Hotspur: Will host Everton on Saturday and then travel to Manchester next Wednesday. Another Premier League match on Oct. 23 with Newcastle United visiting before hosting Sporting CP on Oct. 26 in Champions League.

Eintracht Frankfurt: Bayer Leverkusen at home on Saturday in Bundesliga action before a trip to Stuttgarter Kickers in a German Cup match on Tuesday.