A second convincing home win in five days saw us book our place in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League as we ran out 3-0 winners against AEL Limassol on Thursday evening, to secure a 5-1 aggregate success.
A goal late in the first half from Harry Kane, together with second half strikes from Paulinho and Andros Townsend, the latter from the penalty spot, ensured another good night’s work, following on from Sunday’s 4-0 win over QPR in the Premier League – and added to last week’s 2-1 first leg success in Cyprus.
There were nine changes from the side which defeated Queens Park Rangers on Sunday and six different faces from the victory in Larnaca seven days ago. Those included first appearances of the season for Vlad Chiriches and Sandro as Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino shuffled his pack once again.
It took just six minutes for the drama to start unfolding. Paulinho played a ball down the right flank, Kyle Naughton gave chase and got a toe to the ball ahead of goalkeeper Karim Fegrouch, whose momentum took him into Naughton and referee Miroslav Zelinka immediately pointed to the spot. Both players received lengthy treatment following the challenge, but while our full-back was able to continue, Fegrouch had to be replaced with a nasty looking head injury, collecting a yellow card as he was carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
Substitute stopper Pulpo Romero came on after a seven-minute delay and his first touch of the ball was to deny Kane from 12 yards, deflecting the penalty with his trailing leg as the striker smashed it straight down the middle of the goal.
And Romero was there again on 19 minutes, parrying Kane’s 25-yard drive as we looked to put the tie to bed early in the match.
The visitors had a sight of goal shortly after when a loose pass from Naughton was gathered by Luciano Bebe who burst forward down the AEL left, his cross was cleared to Adrian Sardinero but his shot on the run skewed well wide.
On 33 minutes, Mousa Dembele wriggled through three challenges but dragged his right foot shot wide from 20 yards, while at the other end Kane found Aaron Lennon on edge of the box with his back to goal but his clever back-heel found Kane again, he cut inside and lofted his 15-yard effort over the bar.
Hugo Lloris was smartly off his line to smother a through-ball from Diego Barcelos as Sardinero threatened to break clear, before we snatched the lead on the night in the 45th minute.
Marios Nikolaou played a sloppy ball 30 yards from goal which Paulinho picked up and surged forwards, sliding a pass in to Kane who advanced to the edge of the area and showed great composure to tuck his shot low into the bottom right corner of the net.
Seven minutes of injury time were added on following that early incident but there was no further action and we went into the break 3-1 ahead on aggregate.
But it took just four minutes of the second period before we doubled our lead on the night. Diallo Guidileye tackled Paulinho inside the AEL area, but as he attempted to dribble away from danger, Chiriches slid out a foot to knock the ball straight back to the Brazilian midfielder, who took a touch and lashed his shot past Romero.
Lloris was called into action on 56 minutes, saving comfortably from a 20-yard drive by Polish striker Lukasz Gikiewicz, but we were soon on the offensive again.
Kane this time fed Paulinho with a neat pass through the middle, he cut inside and as Romero rushed out to the edge of the area, he laid the ball back to Lennon who chipped it goalwards only to see Carlitos sprint back and get a glancing header on the ball to deflect it away for a corner.
On 65 minutes the referee pointed to the spot in our favour again, following a handball in the area from Edmar. Townsend took up spot kick duties this time and made no mistake, rolling the ball to the right as Romero dived the wrong way.
That made it 5-1 on aggregate but there was no let-up in our attacking impetus and we went close again when Romero denied Kane from close range after a delightful move, while the keeper also tipped over Townsend’s 25-yard drive shortly after. At the other end, Valentinos Sielis sent a header harmlessly wide from a free-kick on the right flank.
The busy Romero had to be alert again eight minutes from time to tip Ben Davies’ long-ranger around the post, before a quick double save from Paulinho’s overhead kick and Kane’s effort from the rebound.
That was the end of the action as we continued our unbeaten start to the season and we can now look forward to tomorrow’s draw for the group stages.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Chiriches (Veljkovic 86), Davies, Sandro (Holtby 77), Dembele, Lennon, Paulinho, Townsend, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Rose, Dier, Chadli, Adebayor.
AEL (4-2-3-1): Fegrouch (Romero 12), Edmar, Sielis, Cadu, Carlitos, Nikolaou (Danielzinho 46), Guidileye, Bebe, Barcelos, Sardinero (Tagbajumi 80), Gikiewicz. Substitutes (not used): Romero, Espana, Carlitos, Eleftheriou, Nadeau.
Goals: Spurs – Kane 45, Paulinho 49, Townsend (pen) 66.
Yellow cards: AEL – Fergouch, Bebe.
Referee: Miroslav Zelinka (Czech Rep).