Dele Alli floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee to floor football’s greatest heavyweight
Tottenham Hotspur's riveting 3-1 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League was glorious in the extreme because it was made and built in England, writes Desmond Kane.
It was a night of firsts at a Wembley Stadium that suddenly fits Tottenham more snugly than the England national team. Who needs a brand spanking new White Hart Lane when you can glisten like this at a supposed neutral venue?
This was a first appearance at England’s home of football for Real Madrid, a first resounding victory for Tottenham over the European champions in their history, a first "home win" over any Spanish side in European competition and a first Champions League appearance this season for the delightful Delle Alli, the local lad who inspired a clobbering nobody saw coming.
Certainly not Zinedine Zidane's discomforted and frazzled new generation of galacticos. The first cut is the deepest.
If Gareth Southgate wants to see how England should cope with technically superior, strutting opponents living off past glories ahead of next summer’s World Cup finals, studying a replay of these astonishing happenings prompted by Tottenham's rampant young lions would not be a bad place to start.
The Premier League is the world's richest, but nothing can compare to beating the best the world has to offer. Doing it with English talent makes it all the more sweeter. For Spurs fans, this was indeed a mountainous feast coming after the succulent 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu a fortnight ago.
It was Alli’s two clinical finishes either side of half-time that saw Madrid deservedly pay dearly for some calamitous defending.
"To beat Real Madrid, the best team in the world, it is fantastic for the players and the club," purred Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino.
It must be said, the Poch enjoyed his greatest night in football management just as Zizou was sampling his worst. One minute you are the best, the next you are beastly. Nobody is above a good filleting in professional sport. Especially when you turn up with an unforgivably lackadaisical attitude.
It was in June 1963 at the old Wembley Stadium that boxing’s greatest Muhammad Ali was dropped by a British underdog in the form of Henry Cooper in the fourth round. Ali recovered his gait to halt 'Enery in the fifth, but there was no way football’s greatest were going to revel in a similar recovery here.
Not with this Alli floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee. The smelling salts will be administered to a dazed Madrid for some time to come after they crashed and burned.
Dele Alli and Tottenham celebrate.Eurosport
While it was the returning Harry Kane who was supposed to be Tottenham’s great white hope against the Madrid artisans, it turned out Alli from Milton Keynes was the man with dynamite in his boots. At 21, he has the world at his feet.
He was alert to turn Kieran Trippier's cross into the net before leading a ragged visiting defence a merry dance to wallop a second into the net via the frame of Sergio Ramos.
83,000 were inside Wembley to witness a historic evening, some reduced to tears. But the sobbing should be confined to Real Madrid’s defence, who were intent on a night of farcical self-harming.
Real Madrid did not look like themselves in black, and a night after Halloween resembled a haunted set of impostors by the time the final whistle sounded.
Despite Cristiano Ronaldo's late consolation goal for the visiting side, there is serious remedial work required as Zidane is forced to confront a mini-crisis for the first time in his fledgling managerial career.
Getting defenders to defend would be a wise place to start. Marcelo conked out as a Trippier ball was finished by Alli, who reacted quickest and decisively, before the elusive England midfielder burst clear of a despairing Casemiro lunge to wallop the ball into the net with Ramos left to sulk on 56 minutes.
The third was a thing of genuine beauty as Alli sprang from defence to feed Kane. He slipped a sumptuous reverse ball into the path of Christian Eriksen who dinked the ball over Kiko Casilla with ironically Luka Modric of all people attempting in vain to deny him his shot at glory.
Tottenham celebrate a famous night.Eurosport
This was Real Madrid’s first defeat in the group stage since Jose Mourinho's side lost 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund five years ago. This was a night when Tottenham looked more like the European champions than football's most decorated club side, the sport's serial habitual winners who are chasing a 13th and third straight Champions League and a 22nd continental trophy.
That Tottenham managed it with the much-maligned Moussa Sissoko replacing the injured Toby Alderweireld in the 24th minute will be viewed as a more wondrous miracle by some Spurs fans than the outcome. It was that sort of night. The sort of evening Lilywhites can only dream about, a night when minds are allowed to wander to what this may hint at.
The Tottenham boys progress to the last 16 from Group H with two games to spare. The Tottenham boys are making all the noise everywhere they go.
Judging by these goings-on, Poch's vibrant, swashbuckling posse are only at the start of their journey.