After Tottenham Hotspur FC reached the last 16 by beating SV Werder Bremen, Younes Kaboul hoped that this was just the start for a team now believing "anything is possible".
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It is a measure of Tottenham Hotspur FC's growing confidence that mere qualification for the knockout rounds on their UEFA Champions League debut is no longer enough. Tottenham booked their last-16 place by beating SV Werder Bremen on Wednesday but the goal now is top spot ahead of holders FC Internazionale Milano for a team who believe they can go far in the competition, according to defender Younes Kaboul.
Kaboul put Spurs on course for a third home victory in Group A with a sixth-minute opening volley before strikes by Luka Modrić, on the stroke of half-time, and Peter Crouch after 79 minutes completed another fine evening's work. The French defender told UEFA.com: "[First place] is very important for us – it means we can go forward with more confidence. We realise we have a good team and can do big things. We ended last year strongly by qualifying for the Champions League and it is our first time in the competition and we want to achieve something. Why not go further after getting to the last 16?"
Tottenham had not kept a clean sheet since the 4-0 play-off win here against BSC Young Boys but they have come a long way in the intervening three months with Kaboul citing the second-half fightback at Inter – where Gareth Bale's hat-trick narrowed a 4-0 half-time deficit – as key. "Coming back to 4-3 at Inter helped us beat them in the match here," he said. "We saw their defensive weaknesses and that paid off in the return. Anything is possible but we have to stay focused."
Having beaten Inter 3-1 at home, Spurs' head-to-head superiority means they will tie up first place at FC Twente on Matchday 6 so long as they match the Italian club's result at Bremen. Goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes said: "If we finish first, we are away from the big, big clubs, but it is a difficult game at Twente and we'll need to be strong to beat them there." According to Gomes, manager Harry Redknapp helped instil the belief even before the group stage began. "Harry said to us, 'We can do it, we can go through because we have great players in the squad'." Full-back Alan Hutton added: "It's been tough, especially coming back and handling hard games in the Champions League but we've progressed well and we're handling it well now."
If Tottenham are in dreamland, Bremen are in the middle of a nightmare. This was the sixth defeat in seven for a team decimated by injuries. Four Bremen players made their UEFA Champions League debuts at White Hart Lane – Dominik Schmidt and Felix Kroos started, while Onur Ayık and Lennart Thy appeared as substitutes – and they did not force Gomes into a single save as they were consigned to last place in the group, ensuring no European football after Christmas for the first time since 2004.
Midfielder Daniel Jensen admitted that their game plan had been merely damage limitation. "We had a lot of injuries and this morning another one – our striker Hugo Almeida was out," he said. "We knew we had to stay back and only defend our goal and then maybe with a corner or something could get a goal. We are not used to that, I've been there for six and a half years and it's the first time our tactic has been to defend our goal. We've always stood for good attacking football and have always qualified for the UEFA Cup or the next stage but right now we have a bigger problem in the Bundesliga."