The Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a number of fine saves, including one remarkable stop to deny Javier Hernndez, to earn Tottenham a 0-0 draw and a valuable away point against Bayer Leverkusen
There had been little to advertise the Bayer Leverkusen onslaught. Tottenham Hotspur had not only been comfortable in the first half, they were impressive and, on another night, they would have been in front. Dele Alli was off target with a gilt-edged header while Vincent Janssen sent another one against the crossbar.
But this was an occasion when Tottenhams resilience would endure an exacting test. They passed it and they could yet come to be grateful for the point that kept them above Leverkusen in a congested Champions League GroupE, going into the German clubs visit to Wembley in two weeks time.
The resistance was symbolised by the goalkeeper and captain, Hugo Lloris, and the save that he made to deny Javier Hernndez, the former Manchester United striker, in the 48th minute was one that needed several replays simply tounderstand.
Hernndez had to score, following Lars Benders cross from the right; the range was point-blank and a significant portion of the goal was gaping. But he sent his low shot too close to Lloris and that represented the lifeline. The Frenchman seized it. He showed incredible agility to get down and then strength to clamp the ball with his right hand on to the line. Video technology showed that the whole of the ball had not crossed over.
Tottenham were hanging on for much of the second half, as Bayer showed pace and adventure. There were nervous moments in a visiting defence that seemed to miss the authority of the injured Toby Alderweireld and Lloris was required to work again, although not in such spectacular fashion. Mauricio Pochettinos team rode their luck at times and there was relief when Omer Toprak sent a free header over the bar in the 68th minute. Toprak beat the ground in frustration. But Tottenham could feel some satisfaction upon the full-time whistle and it was telling that Pochettino described it as a strong point.
Goalless draws are not supposed to be so watchable and Bayer showed themselves to be formidable opponents when they hit their stride. It was a game in which the margins were knife-edge thin and the right to play had to be earned. Bayer started brightly, with Roger Schmidt having played Stefan Kiessling up alongside Hernndez, but Tottenham came to control the first half.
Pochettino could be pleased with the assurance that his players demonstrated in possession before the interval and, on a number of occasions, their interchanges were too sharp for Bayer. They had two moments when they were agonisingly close to taking the lead. Kieran Trippier took Victor Wanyamas pass and his cross was measured for Alli, who had timed his run into the area. Alli rose but his free header, for which he was stretching slightly, flashed past the post.
Janssen had some encouraging moments in the first half and when he teed up Alli on 38 minutes, Toprak blocked the midfielders shot. Trippier got to the loose ball and, from his cross, Janssens header struck the bar. rik Lamela scooped the rebound towards the roof of the net only for Bernd Leno to tip it over.
Pochettino had kept faith with Janssen in the centre-forward position, which meant that Son Heung-min played off the flank, initially on the right and then the left. He would later move up front when Janssen was withdrawn.
It was an emotional night for Son and there were whistles and boos for the former Bayer attacker from the home support, who have not forgotten the acrimonious nature of his departure in August of last year. He missed the clubs Champions League play-off second-leg at home to Lazio because he was in London to undergo his Tottenham medical. Son flickered. He teed up Janssen to stroke the ball into an empty net during the early running but the South Korean had been flagged for offside in the buildup and he had a shot blocked by Benjamin Henrichs on 25 minutes. He was substituted to jeers in the last minute and Pochettino finished with Josh Onomah in the strikers role.
Bayer have been erratic this season and they sit just below halfway in the Bundesliga. They offered little in an attacking sense in the first half a Hernndez pot-shot the sum total of their efforts but they crackled to life after the break. Admir Mehmedi had the ball in the net only for play to be called back for a foul by Hernndez on Lloris before the goalkeeper distinguished himself with the save from Hernandez that he had no right to make.
Schmidts half-time introduction of the defensive midfielder, Julian Baumgartlinger, made a difference and it became one-way traffic. Charles Arnguiz worked Lloris with a free-kick; Danny Rose made a vital block to thwart Hernndez; Mehmedi extended Lloris and Toprak headed over from Kevin Kampls corner.
Not for the first time, Pochettino lamented his teams lack of clinical edge in front of goal but he recognised Lloris was the decisive factor. Some brilliance from Hugo kept us in the game, he said. He is one of the best in the world and he is in the best moment of his career.