Paulinho led Tottenham past AEL Limassol in an easy 3-0 victory at White Hart Lane, putting them in the Europa League group stage 5-1 on aggregate.
The Brazilian midfielder scored just after half-time to add to Harry Kane’s goal just before the break to put this tie to bed before the visitors could mount a comeback.
Spurs played a sensible game throughout without ever really getting out of second gear as they held the Cypriot side at arm’s length, before Andros Townsend finished the tie from the penalty spot.
With an eye on Sunday’s crucial fixture against Liverpool, Mauricio Pochettino rested much of his squad with only Younes Kaboul and the anonymous Hugo Lloris in the line-up from the weekend’s win against QPR.
Performances from Moussa Dembele, Paulinho and Sandro, who gave the AEL midfield no time or space, will have caught the eye.
With Europa League qualification now in the bag, all eyes are now turned to Liverpool, with Pochettino having a selection headache after a solid performance from his so-call ‘back-up’ players tonight.
6’ – PENALTY GIVEN! Naughton is played in on the right wing and the goalkeeper comes rushing out but the Spurs man gets there first and is felled on the edge of the right side of the area.
13’ – PENALTY SAVED! After a long stoppage due to Fegrouch’s injury, sub goalie Romero comes on and saves Kane’s well struck shot with his legs as the ball was drilled down the middle.
45’ – GOAL! Spurs 1-0 AEL: Paulinho pounces on a loose pass from Nicolaou and immediately lays in Kane through the middle who slots the ball past the goalkeeper into the bottom corner under no pressure.
49’ – GOAL! Spurs 2-0 AEL: Great work from Chiriches as he lays the ball to Paulinho as AEL try to clear and the Brazilian shifts it to his right foot and smashes the ball low into the bottom corner.
65’ – PENALTY AND GOAL! Spurs 3-0 AEL: Edmar handles as Naughton tries to take it around him and the ref points to the spot. Townsend steps up and smashes the ball low into the bottom corner sending the keeper the wrong way.
77’ – SPURS ENJOYING IT! Spurs start to enjoy themselves as Paulinho attempts an overhead kick which the goalkeeper saves well.
Tottenham have now won 10 of their last 13 Europa League games, losing just once in that time
Spurs have qualified for the Europa League group stage for the fourth season running.
Can Spurs replicate this kind of performance against Liverpool at the weekend? Spurs will face much tougher tests but if they can dispatch lesser sides with as much ease, they should have plenty of energy in reserve to match the bigger sides they struggled so badly against last season.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Paulinho – He was everywhere tonight and set the tempo for everything Spurs did both in and out of possession. It was his pressing that set up the first goal and his finish for his goal was top class. An all-round brilliant performance.
TOTTENHAM – Lloris 7, Kaboul 7, Chiriches 8, Naughton 7, Davies 7, Sandro 8, Dembele 8, Paulinho 9, Townsend 7, Lennon 7, Kane 8; SUBS: Holtby 7, Veljkovic 6.
AEL – Fegrouch 5, Sielis 6, Gikiewicz 6, Barcelos 6, Nikolaou 6, Edmar 7, Bebe 6, Carlitos 6, Guidileye 5, Cadu 5, Sardinero 5; SUBS: Romero 8, Tagbajumi 7, Danielzinho 5.
- Sports & Recreation
- AEL Limassol
- Europa League
- Andros Townsend