Lionel Messi produced another moment of magic as Barcelona secured first place in Champions League Group B with a 2-1 win at PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.
Messi delivered a stunning finish on the hour mark just when frustration seemed to be building for Ernesto Valverde’s men.
And nine minutes later the Argentinian made another crucial intervention as his clever free-kick was converted by Gerard Pique to double Barcelona’s lead.
Luuk De Jong grabbed a consolation for the home side eight minutes from time but they remain on a single point from their five group games to date.
Tottenham kept their hopes of a top-two finish alive as they edged past Inter Milan 1-0.
Harry Winks hit the frame of the goal as Spurs pushed for the win they needed and substitute Christian Eriksen duly provided it 10 minutes from time when he fired home from close range.
The result means Spurs need to match Inter’s result in the final round of fixtures – when they travel to face Barcelona at the Camp Nou and the Serie A side face PSV in Milan.
Paris Saint-Germain are also still alive in the competition after their 2-1 win over Liverpool in Group C.
The home side’s nimble first half finishing saw them home with goals from Juan Bernat and Neymar, while James Milner’s 45th-minute effort could not disguise another poor away performance by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Klopp’s men must now count on winning their last game against Napoli, who maintained their one-point advantage at the top of the group with a 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade.
Marek Hamsik opened the scoring for Napoli on 11 minutes before a Dries Mertens double sealed victory. El-Fardou Nebouhane scored a consolation for the visitors.
Atletico Madrid extended their advantage at the top of Group A with a 2-0 win over already-eliminated Monaco.
Early strikes from Koke and Antoine Griezmann put Atletico well in command and they eased home despite the 82nd-minute dismissal of Stefan Savic for a second bookable offence – he was dismissed for a handball in the box, although former Atleti striker Radamel Falcao sent the spot kick wide.
And Borussia Dortmund also progressed after securing the goalless draw they required at home to Club Brugge.
Porto sealed top spot in Group D with a 3-1 win over Schalke, who also go through courtesy of Lokomotiv Moscow’s 2-0 win over Galatasaray.
Eder Militao and Jesus Corona scored early in the second half to lift Porto into life, and after Nabil Bentaleb reduced the deficit, Moussa Marega completed the scoring in stoppage time.
An own goal from Ryan Donk and a second half strike from Vladislav Ignatyev gave Lokomotiv their first win in the group and ended Galatasaray’s hopes of progression.
Spurs took their qualification hopes to the final Group B game at the Camp Nou with a late 1-0 win over Inter Milan at Wembley, thanks to Christian Eriksen’s 80th-minute strike.
They are still outsiders to progress, however, and will have to produce one of the most famous nights in the club’s history if they want to do it, as they have go to group winners Barca in a fortnight needing to match the result of Inter, who play at home to PSV Eindhoven.
It would mark an impressive achievement if they were able to do it, as they looked dead and buried at the halfway stage of the group with just one point from their opening three games.
Pochettino said: “All is possible in football. We have big respect to Barcelona, they are one of the best teams in Europe, it will be a so tough. But we have belief and faith that we can win.
“We need to show again a good level to compete at our best and arrive in Barcelona and compete at our best. We need fresh legs, fresh mind and no injuries. We need to arrive that way in Barcelona.”
Barca are guaranteed to be group winners, having taken 13 points from their five games, meaning they might rest some players for the clash on December 11.
Pochettino, however, is not expecting to get any favours.
“I expect that they are going to play with all the best players, but I don’t know how they are going to prepare the side,” he added.
“We need to approach the game in the best way and believe that we can win.
“What Barcelona is going to do is not in our hands. In the Champions League no-one is going to give a present and not care about the result.”
Spurs were made to work hard to get the win as Inter did everything in their power to disrupt the game and frustrate their hosts.
They had dominated the game, hitting the woodwork through Harry Winks, but looked to be heading out of the competition until Eriksen slammed home 10 minutes from time.
“I think the performance was very good, we fully deserved the victory,” he added. “We scored at the end but we beat a very good team.
“Inter Milan showed a great level, a team that’s so difficult to beat.”
Inter, playing in the tournament for the first time since 2012, would have been through with a point but their fate is no longer in their own hands.
Head coach Luciano Spalletti still reckons they will get through to the knockout stages if they beat PSV.
“If we do what we need to do I think we will go through, it depends on us even if practically it doesn’t,” he said.
“As long as we do our job I think we will go through. It is about what we do.
“They have got some top, top class players at Barcelona, they haven’t lost at home in the last five years in the Champions League and they will want to keep that record.
“I am saying that we have to do what we need to do, we are playing PSV and we have to beat them. If we can win this game it will give us a great chance of going through.”
Lionel Messi scored the opener and then set up Gerard Pique for the second. Luuk De Jong got the consolation goal for the hosts.
We rate the Barcelona players based on their performance on the night.
BARCELONA PLAYER RATINGS
Marc-Andre ter Stegen 4/10: A shocker from the German, had his blushes saved by the frame of the goal.
Nelson Semedo 5: Found it hard to keep up with Steven Bergwijn, ineffective in attack.
Gerard Pique 7: Solid performance by the centre-back, bagged the confirmation goal.
Clement Lenglet 6: A decent performance by the Frenchman, made some crucial interceptions.
Jordi Alba 6: Was not as assertive in attack, constantly troubled by Hirving Lozano.
Sergio Busquets 4: Gave the ball away easily, was far from his magnificent self.
Ivan Rakitic 3: Should not have played the game with the injury and his performance verified this.
Arturo Vidal 7: A solid performance by the Chilean, had two of his shots saved on the line.
Philippe Coutinho 7: Created a lot of chances, was getting past the PSV players with ease.
Lionel Messi 9: Made the difference with a goal and assist. A 10/10 performance if judged on a normalised scale.
Ousmane Dembele 9: One of his best performances this season, can make a case for being the best player on the pitch.
Malcom N/A: Should have converted Dembele’s low cross, not much involved with the ball.
Denis Suarez N/A: Played for 10 minutes when Barcelona were defending the game, mostly uninvolved.