A top performance from Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris forced Real Madrid to settle for a 1-1 draw with the English side in Champions League Group H action on Tuesday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
A Raphael Varane own goal gave Tottenham a first-half lead, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to equalise shortly before half-time via the penalt spot. While Real mostly controlled matters in the second-half, Los Blancos could not find a way past Lloris, who produced a number of world class saves.
At the other end, Real No. 1 Keylor Navas also delivered a superb performance, including a save on a Harry Kane effort that could have given the guests all three points.
Rare is the match when Real are held in check, but visiting boss Mauricio Pochettino’s defensive set-up did just that on this day, cutting off the creative valve that is Isco and preventing Ronaldo and Karim Benzema from doing their usual damage.
Real manager Zinedine Zidane continued with youngster Achraf at the right-back position in place of the injured Dani Carvajal. Otherwise, it was a full-strength XI from the cup holders. As for Spurs, former Espanyol manager Pochettino slotted in a familiar face to Spanish football, former Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla striker Fernando Llorente, along with dangerman Kane.
The opening quarter-hour was all Real. Tottenham were fortunate to not fall behind early, as an early Achraf cross to Ronaldo looked destined for goal, but the Portuguese’s header rang off the post. The rebound fell to Benzema, but the Frenchman shot wide.
Spurs fended off the initial wave from Real and found themselves with a chance when Kane beat Sergio Ramos and crossed for Llorente right in front of goal. Real eventually cleared but replays showed contact between Llorente and Casemiro in the Real area, but no whistle was forthcoming from Polish referee Szymon Marciniak.
Pochettino’s men were having success down the right flank where Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko were working. And it was one such foray on that side that resulted in the game’s first goal for the visitors. Aurier whipped in a cross for Kane, but the ball struck the leg of Varane and Navas was helpless to stop the ball from bouncing into the net for a shock 1-0 lead to Tottenham.
For all his good work in the first-half, a rash decision from Aurier allowed Real to draw level a few minutes before intermission. A clever build-up saw Benzema play into Toni Kroos, who was brought down by Aurier and Marciniak did not hesitate to point to the spot. From there, the equaliser was never in doubt; Ronaldo stepped up and powered home the spot kick past Lloris to make it 1-1
Real looked to take control in the second 45 minutes, and a Benzema goal early in the second stanza seemed a certainty, but a sensational kick save from Lloris using his trailing leg denied Benzema the score from just three yards out. Lloris was then called into action again later in the half to save a right-footed bullet from Ronaldo.
Similar to the first-half, Tottenham hung tough and with time carved out a look or two at goal. The best chance fell to Kane after being played in by Llorente only for Navas to slightly deflect wide the shot from the England international. That was followed by a flicked on header from Llorente into the path of Christian Eriksen, but the shot swerved wide of the near post.
With things still very much in doubt heading into the final 15 minutes, Zidane turned to his bench, replacing Benzema with Marco Asensio. But there was no way through Spurs’ defence on this day, thus forcing Los Blancos to settle for a point.
Real return to action on Sunday at home against Eibar.
– Match facts:
1.- Real Madrid: Keylor; Achraf, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco (Lucas Vazquez, min. 87); Cristiano, Benzema (Asensio, min, 76).
1.- Tottenham: Lloris; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Aurier; Sissoko (Son, min. 89), Dier, Winks, Eriksen; Kane, Fernando Llorente (Rose, min. 80)
Goals: 0-1, min. 28: Varane (og); 1-1, min. 43: Ronaldo
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland).
Yellow Cards: Ronaldo (Min. 32) for Real Madrid, Aurier (Min. 42) for Tottenham
Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu