Nuno's verdict on Pacos de Ferreira, second leg
Thu 26 August 2021, 22:45|Tottenham Hotspur
Nuno Espirito Santo feels a sense of enjoyment from the players - reflected in a convincing 3-0 win against Pacos de Ferreira on Thursday evening, and progress into the group stages of the UEFA Europa Conference League.
This play-off against the team that finished fifth in Portugal’s Premeira Liga last season was never going to be a formality, underlined by our 1-0 loss in last week’s first leg.
It meant we had to win by two clear goals to progress - and that task never looked in doubt once Harry Kane opened the scoring on nine minutes. On the night he equalled Steve Perryman’s record 64 appearances for us in Europe, Harry produced two clinical finishes inside 35 minutes to turn the tie around.
It was all over when Giovani Lo Celso’s wicked free-kick was glanced into his own net by Antunes on 70 minutes and we created chance after chance in the second half – the impressive Bryan Gil, Gio and Heung-Min Son all going close, Sonny striking the post late on.
So it finished 3-0, 3-1 on aggregate and we now going into the group stage draw at 12.30pm on Friday.
Nuno told us: “I thought we played well. We were organised, we didn’t allow any kind of chances from the beginning of the game, good combinations, good offensive movements, goals, and then I think we controlled the game. We had a good advantage, and the players enjoyed the pitch and the fans appreciated it.
“The boys are enjoying themselves. You can see that in the movements, the way they play football, the way they communicate with each other. Now we have another game on Sunday (Watford at home in the Premier League, 2pm), so let’s get ready for it.”
Naturally, the headlines will be all about Harry, who now has 40 goals in European competition in those 64 appearances, but it was put to Nuno that this was very much about the team.
“It was a team performance and it’s always going to be,” said Nuno. “It’s about the team, about us, about how we prepare ourselves, how we compete. Harry gave us a hand and tomorrow will now be another day.”
The home fans have immediately taken to Bryan, who popped up everywhere, setting up Harry’s opener, hitting the post in the first half and firing just wide twice after the break.
Nuno added: “He played well, he’s full of energy, enormous talent. He’s growing as a player and this competition will make us grow, everyone. We will have real games to compete and create relationships between players, and that’s what we want.”