Spurs 3-0 APOEL - report from Wembley
06 December 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Fernando Llorente and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou opened their Spurs goalscoring accounts at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening as we eased past APOEL in our final Champions League group game.
Heung-Min Son was also on target in our 3-0 win to leave us with the best record of this season’s group stage, five wins and a draw from the six matches, only dropping points away to Real Madrid.
The game also saw Champions League debuts for Michel Vorm, Juan Foyth and Kyle Walker-Peters, while Academy graduate Kazaiah Sterling made his Spurs bow with a late substitute appearance.
After a dominant opening 20 minutes in which Serge Aurier and Son went close from distance and Nkoudou had an effort cleared off the line, Llorente capped off a fine move to put us ahead. Harry Winks set Aurier free down the right with a superb pass and Llorente took one touch to control his cross before swivelling and firing home.
Having scored the first, the Spaniard then set up the second 17 minutes later, receiving the ball from Son on the edge of the area and laying it off for the striker to curl past Nauzet Perez.
The Cypriot champions – the first club side from Cyprus to play at Wembley – went close early in the second half when Praxitelis Vourous’ shot was deflected just wide by Danny Rose but we wrapped up a comfortable night’s work 10 minutes from time when Nkoudou’s strike deflected off APOEL skipper Nuno Morais and flew in.
As group winners, we will now face a second-placed team in the round of 16 and will be paired with one of FC Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk or Porto in Monday’s draw.
Mauricio Pochettino made eight changes to the team that started last time out at Watford with Michel Vorm, Aurier, Rose, Foyth, Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Nkoudou and Llorente all coming into the team. Only Dele Alli, Davinson Sanchez and Son survived from Vicarage Road. It was a first start of the season for Nkoudou, while Sterling was joined on the bench by fellow Development Squad player Luke Amos.
Chance: Rueda off the line from Nkoudou – 9mins
Despite the much-changed line-up we made a very bright start, Aurier and Son both going close with 25 yard drives, goalkeeper Perez getting the slightest of touches of the latter’s effort to send it for a corner. We should have opened the scoring on nine minutes when the keeper saved Llorente’s header from Winks’ deep free-kick, Nkoudou prodded the loose ball goalwards from the edge of the six-yard box but Jesus Rueda somehow kept it out with his head. Sanchez then nodded wide on the next phase of play.
Goal: Spurs 1-0 Apoel – Fernando Llorente – 20mins
Llorente almost got on the end of Aurier’s cross, while Foyth headed over when he should have hit the target moments later as we bossed the opening stages and took a deserved lead on 20 minutes. It really was a wonderful goal in its creation, starting with a magnificent incisive pass from Winks out to Aurier down the flank, he whipped in a low cross which Llorente controlled with his back to goal, turning and firing past Perez in one sweet movement.
Goal: Spurs 2-0 Apoel – Heung-Min Son – 37mins
It was one-way traffic as we controlled every aspect of the game and it was no surprise when we added a second eight minutes before half-time. Once again, it was an excellent goal as Son received the ball from Sissoko 30 yards from goal, advanced forwards before laying a pass into Llorente. The Spaniard set it back perfectly for Son to curl a left-foot, first-time shot past Perez and into the top corner. Just before the interval, Llorente flicked a header into Son’s path and his long-range effort was palmed away at full-stretch by the visiting keeper.
Above: Kyle Walker-Peters on the ball.
Chance: Rose veers Vouros’ effort wide – 49mins
For all our first half domination, it was the visitors with the first sight of goal in the second period. The ball was cleared from our box as far as Praxitelis Vourous on the right-hand corner of the area and he let fly with a shot which flicked off Rose and whistled past Vorm’s far post. At the other end, Llorente could have added his second when Rose’s cross fell to him but he couldn’t connect with his attempted volley and the ball was cleared.
Goal: Spurs 3-0 Apoel – Georges-Kevin Nkoudou – 80mins
The game went through a bit of a lull during the mid-way part of the half as we coped defensively with any APOEL forays forward while keeping possession well at times without creating too much. Mousa Dembele and Walker-Peters entered the fray, for Son and Rose respectively, before our third goal duly arrived. It was all the work of Nkoudou, who picked up the ball and weaved his way into the box, hitting a goal-bound shot which flicked off Morais and nestled in the back of the net, wrapping up a good night’s work.
Mauricio Pochettino said
"It was fantastic to finish in this way and important for us to build our momentum and confidence. It was also so important for many players who don't have the opportunity to play in the starting XI every game to build their confidence as well. It's important to add that competition for places in the squad.
Fernando Llorente said
"It’s a very important day for me. I needed it (the goal) for my confidence. I work very hard to give the best performance I can, always try to give my best and now I have to keep working in this way. It’s been hard because in the last games in the Premier League I’ve had good chances. I’ve been a little unlucky. It’s been a difficult moment for me because I need to score for my confidence and I think this is the start, this is the moment I feel better and I want to work very hard to help my team."
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Vorm (c), Aurier, Foyth, Sanchez, Rose (Walker-Peters 69), Sissoko, Winks, Nkoudou, Dele (Sterling 88), Son (Dembele 65), Llorente. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Davies, Vertonghen, Amos.
APOEL (4-2-3-1): Perez, Vourous, Rueda, Carlao, Roberto Lago, Nuno Morais (c), Vinicius, Zahid, Ebecilio, Aloneftis (De Camargo 75), Pote (Antoniou 81). Substitutes (not used): Gudino, Alexandrou, Sallai, Farias, Merkis.
Goals: Spurs – Llorente 20, Son 37, Nkoudou 80.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Aurier, Rose; APOEL - Sallai.
Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia).
Man of the match
With 44 per cent of fans' overall votes on social media, Heung-Min Son was named Man of the Match.
We’re back at Wembley Stadium in three days’ time when we entertain Stoke City in the Premier League.
The Potters sit 13th in the table with 16 points from their 15 games to date and only one win on the road, beating Watford 1-0 at Vicarage Road.
We’ve beaten Mark Hughes’ side 4-0 in our last three league matches.
Kick-off is at 3pm.