Jan Vertonghen accepts that Tottenham’s 3-0 demolition of Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie makes it hard for them to play the underdog card.
Spurs overcame a poor first-half display at Wembley to put one foot in the quarter-finals with a scintillating second-half performance that Vertonghen was at the forefront of.
The Belgian, playing in an unusual role of left wing-back, made Spurs’ opener 76 seconds after the restart when he crossed for Son Heung-min and then scored the second goal in the 83rd minute.
Fernando Llorente then completed a memorable night for Mauricio Pochettino’s side when he nodded in the third with his first meaningful touch of the game.
It will take some capitulation in Dortmund on March 5 for them not to make it through to the last eight, on a night when Harry Kane and Dele Alli should be back in the fold.
“We have to focus on ourselves but 3-0 in a home tie in the Champions League is a big result, and against at this moment the best German side,” Vertonghen said. “We are very pleased.
“Everyone who is playing in the Champions League now they look at each other and see who the strong teams are.
“Results like this does not help us to be the underdog. We are very pleased with the result and are in a good position for the away game now.
“I think if you’d asked before the game whether we’d be happy with 3-0 everyone would have said yes.
“It’s a great result for us. Obviously we’re not there yet but it’s a big step also.”
Midfielder Harry Winks, who was the flag-bearer for Spurs’ Champions League tie against Inter Milan in 2011, admits it is extra special to him and hopes this sends a message to the rest of Europe.
“We hope it’s a statement to show that we are up there and we mean business and that we want to do well and go as far as we can in the Champions League,” he said.
“There is no better way of doing that than beating Dortmund 3-0 at home.
“It is up there with one of the greatest results I have had in a Spurs shirt, the magnitude of the game was higher and it was a big and important game, so to get the result was fantastic for us and I am incredibly proud and delighted to be playing for this team.
“I have been in the stands and watched Spurs play in the Champions League many years ago, so to play and get the win and to do as well as we did makes it that little bit more special.”