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Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Harry Kane’s double ensured Tottenham Hotspur a handy UEFA Europa League Round of Sixteen, first-leg advantage against robust Dinamo Zagreb outfit.
Jose Mourinho played down pre-match suggestions that the North Londoners already had one foot in the last eight: “They have experienced players, international players, some have experience of the Champions League,” the Spurs boss explained.
“Of course, Croatian football is talented at many levels. They won the group phase, then they beat Krasnodar in the knockout with two victories. They are a good team.
“I played them with Real Madrid in the Champions League, but even last season, for example, they beat a club like Atalanta 4-0 at home, which was an impressive result.”
Indeed, it was the lively Croatian side who flew out of the traps. Mislav Orsic burst clear almost immediately, but fluffed his lines, firing tamely at Hugo Lloris when offered a sight of goal.
Erik Lamela was involved in Tottenham’s most promising early moments – but questionable trajectory and a resolute Dinamo backline ensured the Argentine was unable to orchestrate a breakthrough.
Keeper, Dominik Livaković chose an unorthodox ‘hack’ clear after Serge Aurier had centred. But Spurs found a route midway through the opening half. Lamela hit the foot of an upright after tip-toeing his way through – Kane on hand to pick up the pieces from close range.
Bruno Petković tested Lloris as the visitors looked for an immediate response. But it was Tottenham who was now largely dictating. Kane almost profited from Heung-Min Son’s delivery shortly after the restart, while Dutch referee, Serdar Gözübüyük and VAR went absent without leave when Lovro Majer was clumsy on Tanguy Ndombélé – those of a Spurs persuasion baffled by the lack of a spot-kick following the incident.
Without the cushion of a second goal, Spurs were always vulnerable – Petković just off target as the visitors countered. Meanwhile, Spurs substitutes, Gareth Bale and Steven Bergwijn combined – the latter firing directly at Livaković.
But Spurs doubled their advantage twenty minutes from time. Aurier centred – Kévin Théophile Catherine made a hash of clearing the danger – Kane again the deadly assassin, right-footed from eight yards.
Petković fisted away Bale’s dipping dead-ball attempt as the home side looked to put icing on the cake.
Tottenham Hotspur returns to Premier League action on Sunday, March 14 when they take on North London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium (2pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Davinson Sánchez, Heung-Min Son (Steven Bergwijn 64’), Harry Kane (Carlos Vinícius 84’), Erik Lamela (Gareth Bale 64’), Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli (Lucas Moura 64’), Serge Aurier, Tanguy Ndombélé (Pierre Emile Højbjerg ), Ben Davies Subs not used: Joe Hart (GK), Alfie Whiteman (GK), Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilón, Toby Alderweireld, Harry Winks, Japhet Tanganga
Booked: Davinson Sanchez (foul), Eric Dier (foul), Pierre Emile Højbjerg (foul)
Goals: Harry Kane 25’, 70’
Dinamo Zagreb: Dominik Livaković (Capt), Arijan Ademi (Bartol Franjić 90’), Rasmus Lauritsen, Lovro Majer (Lirim Kastrati 64′), Stefan Ristovski, Luka Ivanušec, Bruno Petković (Mario Gavranović 78’), Marin Leovac, Kévin Théophile Catherine, Kristijan Jakić, Mislav Oršić (Iyayi Atiemwen 64’) Subs not used: Danijel Zagorac (GK), Renato Josipović (GK), Marijan Čabraja, Marko Tolić, Robbie Burton, Josip Mišić, Petar Stojanović, Dino Perić
Booked: Luka Ivanusec (foul), Arijan Ademi (foul) Stefan Ristovski (foul)
Referee: Serdar Gözübüyük (NED)
Assistants: Joost van Zuilen (NED) and Johan Balder (NED)
Fourth Official: Bas Nijhuis (NED)
UEFA Delegate: Andrey Medintsev (BUL)