Jermain Defoe closed to within two goals of becoming our joint all-time European goalscorer and Christian Eriksen scored a superb first goal for us as we cruised to a 3-0 win over Norwegian outfit Tromso on Thursday.
Our England striker scored twice in the first half to make it 20 goals in European action, just two behind Martin Chivers, on what was a comfortable victory in our opening Group K match of this year’s Europa League.
With Eriksen marking his second appearance in our colours with a magnificent late third and our defence keeping its sixth clean sheet in seven games this term, it all combined to make it a successful night at the Lane.
Andre shuffled his pack and made six changes from the side which beat Norwich City on Saturday, among them Erik Lamela who was making his first start for us and also his European debut, having never featured previously for Roma.
And we were immediately on the front foot against a Tromso side who are struggling in their domestic league and arrived in N17 without a win or goal in three previous away games in Europa League action this season.
Just four minutes were on the clock when Danny Rose cut in from the left and tested visiting goalkeeper Marcus Sahlman, before the Norwegian stopper denied Defoe with his legs on 15 minutes.
Mousa Dembele and Gylfi Sigurdsson tried their luck from distance inside 60 seconds shortly after and on 21 minutes we were ahead. Holtby won the ball centrally, laid it off to Lamela who slipped in Defoe and the dangerman dinked the ball over Sahlman and into the net.
It was very much one-way traffic as Tromso tried to contain but were constantly opened up as we carved out chance after chance.
Younes Kaboul lashed a shot wide at the far post after a Holtby corner missed everyone in front of goal and we doubled our advantage on 29 minutes when Defoe scored his 137th goal in our colours. It was almost a carbon copy of his first on the night, but this time down the left flank as Holtby played him in and he calmly beat the Tromso keeper with a left-foot shot.
There was a setback on 34 minutes when Rose pulled up as he went on a run down the left, the full-back replaced by Vertonghen. But that didn’t stop the flow of attacks, Sigurdsson the next to fire wide.
Tromso’s first attempt on goal on the evening came two minutes from the interval when their Welsh midfielder Josh Pritchard, on loan from Fulham, shot from the right-angle of the area but it trickled harmlessly wide. At the other end, Defoe and Holtby both went close as we finished the half well on top.
The second period followed exactly the same pattern, virtually defence against attack as we continued to press forward, dominating possession and chances created. Holtby and Sigurdsson were both at the heart of most of our good work and the pair each had early chances, the German dragging a shot wide before Sigurdsson’s shot on the turn actually hit Defoe and bounced to safety.
Dembele made way for Eriksen just after the hour mark, the Belgian midfielder coming off injured after a tackle from Lars Gunnar Johnsen who received a booking, and Pritchard threatened again for the visitors moments later, blazing over after Holtby was dispossessed in midfield.
It didn’t take long for Eriksen to get involved, picking up where he left off against Norwich on his impressive debut, as he clipped a delightful deep cross which was met by the head of Sandro, but straight at Sahlman.
There was a lull in proceedings as neither side produced anything of note until Tromso sprung an attack down the right 10 minutes from time, substitute Kent-Are Antonsen finding space to lay the ball back to Morten Moldskred but just as he was about to shoot, Lamela showed his defensive qualities to get back and poke out a toe to knock the ball away.
And then the icing on the cake. Defoe gathered Paulinho’s crossfield pass on the byline and laid it back to the supporting Kyle Naughton, who in turn popped infield to Eriksen. The Dane looked up and hit a superb 25-yard right-foot shot which curled up and over Sahlman and into the far corner, a delightful way to open his account in our colours and cap a great night.