Spurs mature in Champions League
White Hart Lane
Xavier Hochstrasser was a dim and distant memory as Tottenham's impressive progress in the Champions League took them into the last 16 with time to spare.
Remember the name? Back in August's high summer, Hochstrasser put Young Boys of Berne three up inside 30 minutes in a qualifier that threatened to make a mockery of Spurs' hopes of making an impact on Europe's biggest stage after a 49-year absence.
Spurs recovered to lose 3-2 in what manager Harry Redknapp labelled "a great defeat" - and so it proved as they regrouped over two legs to escape an ignominious early exit and reach the group phase.
Events in Switzerland seemed an age away as White Hart Lane celebrated the latest demonstration of Tottenham's growing maturity in the Champions League with a convincing dismissal of Werder Bremen.
We did not witness the swashbuckling wave of attacks that swept Inter Milan away on that memorable night but it was still an impressive statement of intent that confirmed Spurs have the capability - in an attacking sense at least - to give any opponents problems as the Champions League progresses.
Werder are a team stripped of key players and confidence but the manner in which Spurs took control from the moment Younes Kaboul volleyed them into an early lead allowed them to illustrate how they have grown into the Champions League.
Further goals from Luka Modric and Peter Crouch, with a missed penalty from Gareth Bale in between, put Spurs through to the knockout stage and presented them with the enticing possibility of topping Group A if they win at FC Twente in their final game.
Crouch and Lennon celebrate another goal. Photo: Reuters
The victory capped a fruitful few days for Spurs as they followed up their dramatic comeback win over Arsenal with a performance that will have added to their burgeoning European reputation.
Redknapp raised eyebrows at the weekend when he insisted Spurs can consider themselves Premier League challengers after victory at Arsenal. And he was in no mood to hurl a bucket of cold water over White Hart Lane expectations as his side added three goals against Werder to the three against Inter Milan, four against FC Twente and another four against Young Boys in the second leg of the qualifier.
If Spurs fans are revelling in watching their team inflict naked attacking intent on European opponents, Redknapp is enjoying it just as much. He offers bold words that sit comfortably alongside the bold actions of his players.
"We have played some great attacking football in the Champions League," he said. "I think we will give teams problems in the way we play. We have got to keep going in the Champions League. Who knows what can happen?
"We've got players who can get in any team. Bale and Modric can play in any team and I think I have got quite a few others who I think could play anywhere."
There is no question Spurs have proved they have the capacity to do damage as a wild card in the knockout games - the problem may come when opponents of the highest quality attempt to inflict damage on them.
Spurs' open approach will leave them vulnerable to teams of greater quality, while the regular concession of possession by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, especially in the second half, will be punished heavily by better teams than Werder.
The way Inter Milan raced into a 4-0 lead in the San Siro can be used as a suitable check should anyone in the Spurs camp care to get carried away.
Come what may in the later stages, Spurs have already more than justified their place in this season's Champions League.
Modric pulled the strings in midfield for Tottenham. Photo: AP
They were without the talismanic Rafael van der Vaart against Werder but Modric was the midfield orchestrator, while a resurgent Aaron Lennon joined Bale in offering pace and width, creating goals for Kaboul and Crouch and running Werder ragged all night.
Bale was, well, simply Bale. He ran in almost unstoppable straight lines and once again showed a remarkable ability to deliver quality from the flanks, even in the tightest corner.
Redknapp had every right to be elated with how Spurs have acquitted themselves in the Champions League, although all praise must be placed in the context of the opposition they were facing.
Spurs have a cultured style that is well suited to Europe and Redknapp's hand will be strengthened with Jermain Defoe back and both Michael Dawson and Ledley King closing in on returns.
There will be more testing examinations ahead but to move into the lucrative knockout stage ahead of schedule - and with all the possibilities that presents - represents a considerable recovery from the miserable moment Xavier Hochstrasser struck in Berne.