Mauricio Pochettino feared the worst when Tottenham's Champions League draw was made, but his side will go through top of the group after they beat Borussia Dortmund.
Son Heung-min scored the winner at the Westfalenstadion, and his eighth goal in 10 games against the German outfit, as Spurs came from behind to seal a 2-1 victory.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had given Dortmund the lead but Harry Kane equalised early in the second half before Son capitalised on some brilliant Dele Alli trickery 14 minutes from time.
The result means Tottenham head into the last 16 as winners of Group H, ahead of European champions Real Madrid, with one match to spare and finish at home to Apoel Nicosia next month.
It is a far cry from this time last year when Spurs' hopes of progress had already been ended in a kinder group that included Monaco, Leverkusen and CSKA Moscow.
"The season before, we were watching the draw and we thought: 'Oh Monaco, Leverkusen and CSKA' and we thought we had a chance to go to the next stage," Pochettino said.
"Then this draw we looked between us and thought: 'OK we are going to compete and we say nothing' - and look now we are first, top of the table.
"It was difficult because Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund and Apoel are always difficult but we try to enjoy and be competitive and try to win, that was the idea in every single game.
"I am happy for the result, to be top of the table, first, but we're looking forward to playing the next game."
Pochettino could have opted to rest players given a win over Apoel next month would also have secured first place and Tottenham also host West Brom on Saturday.
But he started Kane and Alli, both recently injured, as well as Danny Rose, who was left out of the squad completely for Saturday's defeat to Arsenal.
Rose certainly justified his place with a dynamic display down the left while Alli set up Son's winner, having danced between two Dortmund defenders out wide and then provided the cut-back.
"I am so happy about him, of course," Pochettino said about Alli.
"For me the position he played today he can play easy because of the characteristics of him. He can play behind the striker or like a number eight, because he has the quality and talent and capacity to cope with different positions, he has that.
"But I'm not only proud of him but the whole team. Danny Rose was fantastic too. We must recognise that. In the second half and the whole game, after 10 months injury it's difficult.
"The performance was great. I think the whole team was very good, fantastic performance."