Spurs coast past AEL Limassol at the Lane to progress in Europa League
21:43 28 August 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Tottenham continued their perfect start to life under Mauricio Pochettino, cruising to a 3-0 home win over AEL Limassol tonight and booking their place in the Europa League group stage.
Leading 2-1 on aggregate from the first leg of the play-off in Cyprus last Thursday, with two away goals, Spurs rarely looked in danger at White Hart Lane this evening - and, having initially conceded first in the tie, they eventually triumphed 5-1 overall.
Harry Kane missed an early penalty but he went on to score the opener just before half-time, set up by Paulinho, who struck the second goal shortly after the interval – and Andros Townsend netted a penalty after the hour-mark.
Spurs have now won all four of their competitive games under Pochettino – and their tally is eight in a row if pre-season victories are included.
The Lilywhites will also take confidence from the fact that, having thumped QPR 4-0 at the Lane on Sunday, they have scored seven goals without reply at home this week. They now host Liverpool on Sunday.
There were nine changes to the Spurs side that had faced QPR on Sunday, with Hugo Lloris and Younes Kaboul the only players to start both games.
Vlad Chiriches returned from injury at centre-back alongside captain Younes Kaboul, and Sandro also made his first appearance of the season, while Mousa Dembele was given his first start following two outings as a substitute.
Townsend was included in the line-up, quelling speculation that he could depart to Southampton, but Lewis Holtby was overlooked again, taking his place on the bench for the second game in a row, with Paulinho being preferred.
The Brazilian had had a poor game in the first leg in Cyprus seven days earlier, but he unlocked the Limassol defence in the xxx minute with an inviting ball over the top for the onrushing Kyle Naughton, who was brought down in the box by the onrushing Karim Fegrouch.
It was a sickening collision as Naughton’s knee struck the visiting goalkeeper’s head – and he was eventually stretchered off eight minutes later, being replaced by Pulpo Romero.
That gave Harry Kane a nervous wait before his spot-kick and, when he eventually fired his effort down the middle, Romero saved with his legs.
The 21-year-old attempted to make amends, turning neatly in the centre of the field and advancing to the edge of the box before forcing Romero to beat the ball away.
Limassol had a sight of goal as Naughton’s pass was intercepted and Adrian Sardinero blazed the ball over from 20 yards, but Spurs then put together a dangerous move of their own.
Kane drilled a crossfield ball over to Andros Townsend, who came inside and then freed Naughton on the outside – and Kane was first to his half-volleyed cross but headed over.
Dembele sent a low effort wide from the edge of the box, and the generally quiet Aaron Lennon backheeled the ball to Kane, who cut onto his left foot in the box but then fired over.
The opening goal arrived just before the 45th minute, and it was something of a gift as a weak Limassol pass was intercepted by Paulinho, who freed Kane, and he slotted home for his second strike of the season – both coming against the Cypriots.
Spurs went on to double their lead four minutes after the interval as the visitors lost the ball in a dangerous position again.
Chiriches made the tackle on the edge of the Limassol box, and Paulinho dropped his shoulder and sent a low finish into the far corner.
Lukasz Gikiewicz gave Lloris a routine save at the other end but the away team had a mountain to climb and Spurs were beginning to enjoy themselves.
Kane played Paulinho through and he drew Romero out before unselfishly playing the ball back to Lennon, whose chipped effort over the stranded keeper was headed off the line.
Kane forced another save from an angle, and Spurs then won their second penalty of the night in the 65th minute when Naughton’s chip into the box hit his marker’s hand at close range. This time Townsend took the spot-kick, and he sent Romero the wrong way, finishing into the bottom right corner.
A quick passing move released Kane, who shot at Romero again, and Pochettino then introduced Holtby in place of Sandro.
Townsend turned on the style with a neat step-over followed by a rasping 25-yard drive that Romero tipped over the bar, and Ben Davies nearly scored from a similar distance, testing Romero again, while Kane’s effort from the resulting corner was blocked.
There was to be no extra goal though, and Spurs had to settle for three. The draw for the group stage of the Europa League will be made tomorrow.
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Chiriches (Veljkovic 85), Davies, Sandro (Holtby 77), Dembele, Paulinho, Townsend, Lennon, Kane
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