Erik Lamela came off the bench to set up both goals as Tottenham beat AEL Limassol 2-1 in the Europa League play-off, first leg in Larnaca.
The Cypriot League runners-up troubled the Premier League side with their high-pressure, counter-attacking tactics and took the lead on 14 minutes when Adrian Sardinero took advantage of a Paulinho lapse in midfield to glide through the Tottenham back four and beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
But Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino opted to bring on the Argentine winger in the second half, and the £30 million signing from Roma dazzled as he set up late goals for Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane.
The competition has taken on an added importance for Tottenham because this year’s winner qualifies for next seasons Champions League, and Lamela's cameo ensures that the Premier League side will be favourites to finish the job in next Thursday's second leg at White Hart Lane, and qualify for the group stages for the fourth successive season.
12’ - CHANCE! Kane's side-footed effort dips rapidly but is just over Fegrouch's crossbar.
14’ - GOAL! AEL 1-0 Spurs. Sardinero runs straight through the Tottenham defence and tidily finishes past Lloris. Davies looks furiously at Soldado at how the Limassol player won the ball in midfield.
26’ - CHANCE! Bebe closes down Naughton and wins the ball, then Gikiewicz is able to get clear of Naughton but heads over from close range.
30’ - CHANCE! Kane tries an effort low from 30 yards, but Fegrouch is able to gather at the second attempt.
32’ - CHANCE! Townsend tries a flat low cross that drops to Kane, but Fegrouch is again able to save the shot.
34’ - CHANCE! Sardinero again shows pace as he runs Davies, but Lloris is quickly out to block, then Dier clears.
74’ - GOAL! AEL 1-1 Spurs. And it is Soldado, who has been very poor tonight but does the business in front of goal with a volley from Lamela’s cross.
80’ - GOAL! AEL 1-2 Spurs. Lamela again is the inspiration as he sets up Kane to net emphatically.
87’ - CHANCE! Kane sets up Chadli, who pulls the ball back unselfishly to Lamela but his sidefoot shot is just wide.
88’- CHANCE! Fegrouch, falling backwards, just manages to block an effort from Lamela.
AEL Limassol's players celebrate after scoring a goal against Tottenham (AFP)
Is Roberto Soldado the right man for Tottenham? Soldado was named as one of the 'ten worst buys of the Premier League season' by a newspaper in May of this year. The 29-year-old scored just six league goals in his debut season in England, with only two of those coming from open play. His goal tonight was superb, a low volley from Lamela’s pass, but he looked awkward, sluggish and bereft of confidence for most of the match.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Erik Lamela (Tottenham): The 22-year-old has already been branded a flop after a difficult first season at White Hart Lane punctuated by injury. The Argentine winger impressed in Spurs’ pre-season tour of the United States, and looked sharp in his 18 minutes on the pitch in Cyprus. Expect the former Roma player to feature and impress in the Premier League this season.
AEL Limassol: Fegrouch, 7 Nicolaou 7 Sielis 7 Tavares Carlitos 7, Cadu 7, Edmar 8, Bebe 8, Guidilleye 8, Sardinero 8 Gikiewicz 7, Diego Barcelos 7. Subs: Tagbajumi 7, Miguel Carlitos 7, Eleftheriou 6.
Tottenham: Lloris 7, Vertonghen 6, Dier 6, Naughton 6, Davies 6, Paulinho 6, Holtby, 6 Townsend, 6 Bentaleb 8, Soldado 6, Kane 7. Subs: Lamela 9, Dembele 8, Chadli 8.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Erik Lamela
- Roberto Soldado
- AEL Limassol
- Europa League
- the Premier League
- Hugo Lloris