ENSCHEDE - Tottenham Hotspur completed their memorable first Champions League group-stage campaign by topping the standings ahead of holders Inter Milan after an exhilarating 3-3 draw at Twente Enschede on Tuesday.
Back in August when Spurs were 3-0 down early in the first leg of their play-off at Young Boys you could have named your odds on them marching into the last 16 as a group winner.
The entertaining North London side fought back in that qualifying match in Switzerland to lose 3-2 and then set the tone for their new adventure by winning the return 4-0.
Three wins, two draws and a remarkable 18 goals scored sent them through to the knockout stage one point ahead of Inter, whose under-strength side lost 3-0 at Werder Bremen.
Tuesday's game summed up Tottenham's appeal to the neutrals as they looked to attack at every opportunity while at the same time leaving themselves vulnerable at the other end.
"We score plenty of goals but we give them away as well. You want to win but it was important we finished top of the group," manager Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports after his side's goals against tally reached 11.
"I thought it was the toughest group and to top it was a great achievement."
Already qualified and with a superior head-to-head record against Inter thanks to their extraordinary 3-1 demolition of the champions at White Hart Lane, Spurs had only to match the Italian side's result to win the group.
They were gifted an early lead when Twente keeper Sander Boschker swung at and missed a back-pass by Peter Wisgerhof, with Danny Landzaat levelling from the spot after 22 minutes.
Jermain Defoe, with only one previous club goal to his name in an injury-hit season, struck twice after the break but each time Spurs were pegged back, first with a header by Roberto Rosales and then a 56th-minute free-kick by Nacer Chadli.
Both sides continued to go forward in search of a winner but eventually had to settle for a draw that did no damage to either - with Twente already guaranteed third place and a spot in the Europa League - and ensured the honours were shared.
"We've gone for it every game and we came here thinking we could win it," said Redknapp.
"We had two wide men, two up front, we went for it. We got goals but conceded three as well. Overall, I'm delighted with the effort of the players."
Defoe, on target with two sharp reaction finishes, added: "We worked so hard last season to come here so when you are here you want to make the most of it."
Asked how far the team could go in their first crack at the Champions League, having last mixed with the continent's elite in the European Cup back in 1962, the England striker added:
"The way we are playing and the goals we are scoring, you never know."
Twente, taking a similarly positive approach, played their part in a richly entertaining game and will be a team many will want to avoid in the Europa League.
"Harry Redknapp complimented me by saying we played fantastic football but sometimes too much football, coach Michel Preud'homme told NOS-TV.
"Therefore we conceded goals today and we should find more balance in our game.
"The first goal had to do with the condition of the pitch but before that back-pass we could have handled it differently and that is exactly what I mean."
"But I complimented my team because coming from behind against such a good opponent is quite an achievement - though we still have to learn our lesson from this."comments