The Wembley surface is threadbare, looking weary and devoid of its usual lustre — and Tottenham are not what they were, either.
They, too, have lost a little of the gloss which made them so pleasing on the eye. Perhaps, like their home from home, they are tired and overworked and confused by all the debate about their true purpose in life.
This Champions League campaign has wheezed and spluttered from Milan to London to Eindhoven and back but finally Spurs have secured a victory in Europe for the first time in 2018.
It came late. And in scruffy fashion. And it came thanks to two goals from Harry Kane, who typified his team’s refusal to accept defeat when they went behind after 61 seconds to a header by Luuk de Jong.
Kane forced the winner in the 89th minute, a header at the far post which took two deflections as it bobbled and spun into the net.
Perhaps his goals will trigger the sort of miraculous escape which they will talk about for decades but it seems unlikely. The odds lean heavily towards an exit at the group stage for Mauricio Pochettino’s team. They face daunting tasks against Inter at Wembley and Barcelona in the Nou Camp, and the struggle to survive in a difficult group has eaten away at the harmony carefully nurtured by the manager.
As frustration grew and PSV resisted on Tuesday night, Pochettino’s decision to take off Lucas Moura was jeered. His jinking runs had caught the eye but the Brazilian was chosen to make way for Erik Lamela, who helped produce the win.
This was forgotten by the final whistle of course, as the Glory, Glory tunes rang around the stadium and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Gazzaniga 6; Aurier 6 (Trippier 75 min, 6.5), Sanchez 6, Alderweireld 6, Davies 6.5; Eriksen 6.5, Winks 7, Alli 6.5; Moura 7(Lamela 62, 7), Son 5 (Llorente 75, 6.5); Kane 8.
GOALS: Kane (78, 89)
BOOKINGS: Son, Trippier.
SUBS: Vorm, Walker-Peters, Skipp, Sissoko.
MANAGER: Mauricio Pochettino 7
Zoet 7.5; Dumfries 6.5, Viergever 7, Schwaab 7, Angelino 6.5; Rosario 6, Hendrix 6.5, Pereiro 6 (Malen 73, 5 ); Bergwijn 6 (Gutierrez 86), De Jong 7 (Sainsbury 81), Lozano 6.5.
GOALS: De Jong 2,
BOOKINGS: Lozano, Schwaab.
SUBS: Room, Behich, Sainsbury, Ramselaar, Gutierrez, Mauro Junior.
MANAGER: Mark van Bommel 6.5
REF: Ivan Kruzliak (Slovakia) 6.5