PIERRE-EMILE HOJBJERG sensationally put Spurs top of the group with a stunning breakaway goal with literally the last kick of the game against Marseille.

It left stunned Marseille players on the floor in disbelief – and Spurs’ team delirious at what they had pulled off.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg completed the turnaround and put Tottenham top of the group

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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg completed the turnaround and put Tottenham top of the groupCredit: Getty
Clement Lenglet equalised with a second half header

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Clement Lenglet equalised with a second half headerCredit: AP
Son Heung-min had to be taken off with an injury in the first half

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Son Heung-min had to be taken off with an injury in the first halfCredit: Reuters
Chancel Mbemba gave Marseille a half-time lead

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Chancel Mbemba gave Marseille a half-time leadCredit: Getty

Antonio Conte showed no emotion up in the stands, but inside his heart must have been pounding as loud as a Marseille ultra firecracker.

The banned Italian had just witnessed Clement Lenglet get his side out of jail with an equalising header on 54 minutes, chalking off Chancel Mbemba’s first-half opener.

It was going to be just enough to scrape Spurs into the Champions League knockout rounds – before Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg made sure of it with a stunner in the fifth minute of injury time.

Amazingly, the Dane’s wonderstrike meant Spurs went through as group winners.

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And with his team performing as poorly as they did in the first half, and other events conspiring against them, Conte most certainly will have taken it.

Spurs preparations had already been thrown into disarray with Conte’s touchline suspension.

That had been earned for his red card after remonstrating on the pitch after Harry Kane’s injury-time winner was ruled out by VAR against Sporting Lisbon last week.

Mischievous home fans tried to disrupt Tottenham even further by letting off fireworks outside the team’s hotel at 1.30am and 4.30am overnight.

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That unwanted bang may have started Spurs’ day, but it looked as if it was going to end with a pitiable whimper.

Particularly when Mbemba, fresh from sending Son Heung-min off with a cheek injury, crashed home a header from a corner in first-half stoppage time.

But Barcelona loanee Lenglet, back in his homeland, saved the day with his first goal for the club.

Conte often talks about the need for his team to suffer for their art and this was the epitome of that.

Spurs scored twice from just three shots on target
Spurs scored twice from just three shots on target

The first-half performance was dreadful but all that mattered was getting out of the cacophonous cauldron that is OM’S Stade Velodrome with the result they needed, and that is what his side did.

With Conte up with the crowd and unable to communicate directly with his players, his assistant Cristian Stellini stepped up.

Pre-match the No2 made light of his side’s disrupted shuteye by joking: “We slept very well last night, we enjoyed the fireworks, but they were a bit short!”

Spurs are no strangers to having their sleep disturbed the night before big European games by pesky home fans setting off pyrotechnics.

It happened ahead of last season’s dismal defeat to Vitesse Arnhem in the Europa Conference League.

But fireworks the night before the Champions League semi-final second leg at Ajax in 2019 also sparked one of Spurs’ greatest-ever nights.

Lucas Moura netted an unforgettable hat-trick to send Mauricio Pochettino’s unlikely lads through to the final, a feat that made him deserving of “a statue” according to team-mate Christian Eriksen.

Moura’s Spurs career has rarely sparkled since, but with Dejan Kulusevski and compatriot Richarlison still out injured, he started here.

This was the scene where Eric Dier scored a free-kick for England in their Euro 2016 opener against Russia, a game most remembered for its shocking fan violence in the stands.

Alexis Sanchez, one of a number of Marseille players with Arsenal connections, almost broke the deadlock with only three minutes on the clock, heading Amine Harit’s cross agonisingly wide.

The home side were dealt a blow eight minutes in when Sanchez’s former Manchester United team-mate Eric Bailly hobbled off injured.

Yet, after surviving another effort from Sanchez, Spurs then suffered an injury casualty of their own – and it was a big one.

Son went in for an aerial challenge with Mbemba, whose shoulder crunched into the South Korean’s cheek.

After lengthy treatment, the groggy South Korean eventually hobbled down the tunnel and was replaced by Yves Bissouma.

It was a devastating turn of events for his side, and one that could have World Cup consequences on his nation.

Spurs went even further into the shells without their stricken No7, desperately hoping to make it to half-time with the scores tied.

But it was not to be as Marseille caught them cold with a quick corner which Mbemba converted with a thumping header to spark pandemonium in the stands.

Spurs had to do something having failed to have a single touch in Marseille’s penalty box in the first half.

Emerson Royal was sent on for the second period in Sessegnon’s place.

And within nine minutes of the restart, they nicked an equaliser out of nowhere.

Harry Kane had won a cheap free-kick out on the left, going down under Matteo Guendouzi’s challenge.

Ivan Perisic swung in the set-piece and there was Lenglet to head into the corner for his first Spurs goal.

The TV cameras turned to Conte, who offered no hint of celebration.

Kane had a great chance to put Spurs ahead ten minutes later when keeper Pau Lopez spilled Emerson’s cross but the England captain could not get his feet right.

Hojbjerg went even closer as he fired against the crossbar, before Mbemba’s stunning last-gasp tackle denied Kane when he was in on goal.

Sead Kolasinac, the ex-Arsenal man on as a sub, should have won it for Marseille at the death but somehow headed wide.

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And in the cold light of day, Conte can look upon a season-to-date, as he celebrates one year in the job today, with his team third in the Premier League and into the Champions League knockouts.

But that, like his emotionless expression after his centre-back’s leveller, does not tell the whole story.



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