LONDON: Antonio Conte said Tottenham had avoided a “disaster” after Son Heung-min struck twice in a 3-2 win against Eintracht Frankfurt that bolstered their bid to reach the Champions League last 16.
Conte’s side fell behind to Daichi Kamada’s early strike at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday.
But Son equalised with a composed finish and Harry Kane converted a penalty as the England captain bagged his first Champions League goal this season.
Son’s blistering volley put Tottenham in complete control towards the end of a vibrant first-half display.
Finally back to his best after a slow start to the season, Son was a constant menace to Frankfurt, whose defender Tuta was sent off in the second half for two fouls on the 30-year-old.
Frankfurt’s Faride Alidou reduced the deficit in the closing stages and Kane missed a late penalty, but Tottenham held on, much to Conte’s relief.
“We started in a very difficult way, conceding the first goal. We suffered and had to try to handle the situation,” Conte said.
“We scored good goals. We work a lot during the week to try to have good combination between our strikers. Today they showed great link-up.”
With two matches remaining against Sporting Lisbon and Marseille, Tottenham are top of Group D on seven points after their second win in this season’s tournament.
They hold a one-point lead over both second-placed Marseille and third-placed Sporting.
“We are leading our group. We have to try to beat Sporting and go to the next round,” Conte said.
“Until the end we have to stay focused. It would have been a disaster if we drew a game like this.”
Frankfurt had beaten West Ham and Arsenal in London in recent years, but this less memorable visit to the English capital left them bottom of the group on four points.
Amid an error-strewn start from both teams, it was Tottenham who fell behind in the 14th minute after a sloppy mistake.
Cristian Romero played a risky pass across his own area towards Eric Dier, who took a woeful first touch that allowed Sebastian Rode to set up Japan forward Kamada for a close-range finish.
That served as a much-needed wake-up call for Tottenham and they were level six minutes later.
Kane played a defence-splitting pass to Son, who took a touch before slotting into the far corner from just inside the area.
It was the 50th time in all competitions that Kane and Son had combined to produce a Tottenham goal.
Kane was in the mood and he rumbled into the Frankfurt area in the 28th minute, a surge that was only halted by Kristijan Jakic’s shove.
Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande awarded the penalty after checking the pitchside monitor and Kane stepped up to score his ninth goal this season.
Tottenham had drawn 0-0 with the Europa League champions in Frankfurt last week, but they were far more clinical this time.
After an eight-game goal drought to start the season, Son is back in form and he bagged Tottenham’s third in spectacular style in the 36th minute.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg lofted a cross into the Frankfurt area and Son smashed an unstoppable volley into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
Son’s only other goals this season came when he hit a hat-trick against Leicester in September, but he was denied a fifth treble for the club when Kevin Trapp saved with his foot.
Frankfurt went down to 10 men when Tuta was dismissed for two bookings in the space of three minutes, the Brazilian tripping Son and then pulling the South Korean’s shirt.
Alidou set up an unexpectedly tense finale as he headed in from Mario Gotze’s corner in the 87th minute.
Kane blazed a stoppage-time penalty high over the bar after Bryan Gil was fouled by Hrvoje Smolcic, but Tottenham survived despite their striker’s rare misfire.

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By Dipak

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