Impressive Spurs ease through as group winners

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Royal Antwerp

Spurs progressed to the UEFA Europa League last 32 as group winners after comfortably overcoming Royal Antwerp by two unanswered goals in N17.

Jose Mourinho made nine changes to the side which had knocked over North London rivals, Arsenal, four days previously. Nevertheless, having slipped to defeat when the pair met in Belgium at the end of October, the Spurs chief left little to chance as his side dominated throughout.

Japhet Tanganga had Royal stopper, Alireza Beiranvand, in trouble in the opening minutes following Sergio Reguilón’s dead-ball delivery from the right – Gareth Bale nodded the wrong side of an upright from the resulting flag-kick.

Bale and Lucas Moura had efforts blocked as Spurs continued to knock at the door, but patience would be key against a well-drilled Belgian backline, content to swamp and swipe whenever the host ventured into their territory.

Cristian Benavente’s angled attempt was deflected behind by Davinson Sanchez as Royal threatened for the first time. Meanwhile, Beiranvand saved from Giovani Lo Celso after the Argentine had skipped his marker and broke from deep, then raced from his goal to thwart Carlos Vinícius, this after Lucas Moura’s delightful reverse pass had sent him clear.

The addition of Steven Begwijn after the interval offered Spurs a slightly different dimension. But it was Vinícius who opened the scoring – tapping home the easiest goal of his career from little over a yard out after Beiranvand had pushed Bale’s free-kick onto the inside of an upright.

Having finally been breached, the sight of Heung Min Son and Harry Kane appearing from the bench did little to whet Royal’s appetite. Within minutes, the South Korean had tested the water, while Kane was a fraction wide after reacting the quickest to Lo Celso’s centre.

But when Kane returned the compliment, Lo Celso provided the neatest of finishes to all but kill the contest.

Kane was close to a late third but the Lilywhites were already home and hosed. Again, Tottenham surrendered the majority of possession, but having out-gunned Royal considerably in the shot-count, one wonders how they managed to perform so poorly and slip up in the initial meeting at the Bosuilstadion just 42 days ago?

Tottenham Hotspur returns to Premier League action on Sunday, December 13 when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park (2:15pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Joe Hart, Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilón (Steven Bergwijn 46’), Davinson Sánchez, Harry Winks (Tanguy Ndombélé 59’), Gareth Bale (Heung­ Min Son 59’), Giovani Lo Celso, Japhet Tanganga, Lucas Moura (Capt) (Moussa Sissoko 68’), Ben Davies, Carlos Vinícius (Harry Kane 59’) Subs not used: Alfie Whiteman (GK), Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jack Clarke, Harvey White, Dane Scarlett

Booked: Moussa Sissoko (foul)
Goals: Carlos Vinícius 56’, Giovani Lo Celso 71’

Royal Antwerp: Alireza Beiranvand, Abdoulaye Seck (Birger Verstraete 72’), Lior Refaelov (Opoku Ampomah 46’), Martin Hongla (Frank Boya 59’), Dylan Batubinsika, Cristian Benavente, Jérémy Gelin, Manuel Benson (Koji Miyoshi 72’), Aurélio Buta (Capt), Faris Haroun, Jordan Lukaku (Simen Juklerod 59’) Subs not used: Thiam Chevaughn (GK), Jean Butez (GK), Ritchie De Laet, Dieumerci Mbokani

Booked: Abdoulaye Seck (foul), Opoku Ampomah (foul)
Goals: None

Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP)
Assistants: Diego Barbero (ESP) Ángel Nevado (ESP)
Fourth Official: Guillermo and Cuadra Fernández (ESP)
UEFA Delegate: Neil Morrow (NIR)

Attendance: 2,000

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]