Tottenham keen to play Red Star Belgrade every week after another Champions League cakewalk

John Percy
The Telegraph
Son Heung-min celebrates - and sends a message? - Action Images via Reuters
Son Heung-min celebrates - and sends a message? - Action Images via Reuters

After the devastation of Sunday’s events at Everton, this was an evening Son Heung-min will reflect on with a sense of relief. 

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Son has experienced a wildly contrasting range of emotions over the past few days, following the incident which left Everton’s Andre Gomes with a broken ankle, but his two goals here will help him to move on.

There were initial doubts over his state of mind and he refused to celebrate either goal, appearing to mouth the word ‘sorry’ to the camera after his first strike early in the second-half.

But Son’s response to his own personal trauma was admirable and Tottenham are almost certainly heading for the Champions League knockout stages after this rout in the Serbian capital.

“It has been a really tough few days but I have realised how lucky I am with all the support I have had from the fans and my team-mates,” said Son, in an emotional interview after the game.

“I didn't want to celebrate because I just want to respect the situation. I wish Andre Gomes to get well soon.

“I can say I’m really sorry for the accident but I had to focus for the team and I had to keep going. It was the right response to all the people who have supported me.”

<span>Son Heung-min's gesture after his goal</span> <span>Credit: Action Images via Reuters </span>
Son Heung-min's gesture after his goal Credit: Action Images via Reuters

There was also a goal for Giovani Lo Celso, the Argentinian winger who impressed on his first Spurs start, while substitute Christian Eriksen completed the demolition job to tighten the club’s grip on second place in Group B.

Last season’s winners, Liverpool, were beaten here last November but the team they defeated in the final cannot have envisaged such a stress-free experience, in what is usually renowned as a hostile environment.

This was only Spurs’s first away win of the season and Mauricio Pochettino admitted it was a positive night on many levels.

He said: “We helped him (Son) to move on. It wasn’t only the injury, it was the red card. We felt responsible for different things. But he helped the team move on with his two goals.

“We needed to recover our best feelings and our trust. We are happy. The performance was very good in a very difficult place. We need to keep going. It was only a small step.”

Spurs’s away record since January has been alarming and the Stadion Rajko Mitic is not a venue designed for those of a weak disposition. 

There is the daunting walk through a narrow tunnel which leads to the pitch, and then the menacing welcome from the home support, ensuring the battle lines are drawn before a ball is even kicked.

Liverpool tripped up here last season, remarkably on the same day, but Spurs were in control after Paulo Gazzaniga’s 23rd-minute save from striker Milan Pavkov.

<span>Tottenham Hotspur's Giovani Lo Celso scored the first after a chaotic scramble</span> <span>Credit: EPA-EFE/REX </span>
Tottenham Hotspur's Giovani Lo Celso scored the first after a chaotic scramble Credit: EPA-EFE/REX

It was a huge escape for Spurs, and they rubbed Red Star’s noses in it by taking the lead in the 34th minute after a chaotic sequence of events.

Kane toe-poked the ball against the post after being sent clear by Lo Celso, and then Son’s shot was cleared off the line. As Red Star frantically attempted, and failed, to clear the danger, Son then struck the crossbar from barely a yard out from Kane’s miscued volley before Lo Celso finally made certain by scrambling the ball over the line. The winger, signed on loan from Real Betis on deadline day, was a shimmering menace for much of the night.

Remarkably, there was another crazy pinball moment two minutes before half-time in the other penalty area. Rajiv van la Parra struck the post and Davinson Sanchez somehow conspired to loop the loose ball over Gazzaniga and onto his own crossbar, but Spurs again survived. 

The second goal came in the 57th minute, and had a sense of inevitability about it. The impressive Tanguy Ndombele advanced forward, driving his team on with energy and purpose, and found Dele Alli on the edge of the area. 

It was too easy for Dele to find Son in space and his finish, hammered into the roof of the net, was emphatic. 

There was a third goal just four minutes later, as Son was presented with a simple task of converting at the far post from Danny Rose’s low cross. 

Eriksen, a substitute, put the gloss on the rout with a shot into the corner and Spurs are surely now assured of extending their campaign into next year.

9:56PM

Full time: Red Star 0 Spurs 4

Only once in 72 games have Red Star shipped more than one goal, and this is their heaviest European defeat. So whatever it is about Spurs, they certainly cannot figure them out in Serbia. Excellent from Spurs, I will hand you over without delay to John Percy for the match report. Night.

Son: "really grateful to teammates over last few days, after the terrible accident. Friends and support helped me to refocus. Very sorry it happened."

9:53PM

90+ mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 4 

Oh dear! The end of this really cannot come soon enough for Red Star. They are down to nine now.  Skipp launched a savage and to be honest totally needless challenge on Boakye, who hobbles off. No need. Booked. Anyway, that'll do it.

9:48PM

88 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 4

Lo Celso, who has had an excellent, coming-of-age sort of on evening, comes off. Skipp on.

Can Spurs round it out with five and five to make this ten nil on aggregate?

9:45PM

GOAL! Red Star 0 Spurs 4 (Eriksen 85)

Spurs surge down the left again, Rose to Sessegnon and it is crossed in to Eriksen, who controls it and uses his superlative balance to keep it close, before firing low and into the corner. Nicely taken, albeit that it needed a deflection via Borjan.

9:44PM

84 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3        

Spurs having it all their own way now, loads of space for them.

9:40PM

80 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3       

Milan Pavkov has landed nastily on his ankle and has to come off. Having used all three of their subs, that means Red Star are going to finish with ten.

Sensational in the other game tonight: an outfielder in goal for Man City!

9:36PM

77 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3      

Eriksen with some classy work to set up Lo Celso, whose shot is indifferent.

9:34PM

75 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3     

Son is coming off, Sessegnon is coming on. First Champions League run out for him. In what would imagine should be a low impact 15 minutes. Game not played at much of a pace.

9:31PM

70 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3    

Eirksen getting involved. A cross, to Kane, who fires at goal. A goal kick is awarded but Kane, rightly, argues that it came of Nemanja Milunovic .

9:30PM

69 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3   

Marin has impressed. Foyth fouls him in a dangerous area.

9:29PM

68 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3  

Few more subs as Dusan Jovancic and Mateo Garcia make way and Richmond Boakye and Jose Canas come on.

9:25PM

66 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3 

Petrovic fouls Rose and is booked.

Christian Eriksen is on. Dele is off.

9:25PM

65 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 3

The old song of 'can we play you every week' really does apply here. Spurs have got Red Star's number - it's 8-0 on agg and counting - and more than that, there's a sense of fun and togetherness and purpose about the team.

9:20PM

GOAL! Red Star 0 Spurs 3 (Son 60)

Kane with a lovely weighted pass to Broadway Danny Rose, who is arriving like a steam train down the left. Danny gathers the ball and slides it across, and Son thumps it into the net.

Eurch. Vile VAR is in play. Moment spoiled a bit, but goal stands. What dead-eyed cretins there be in football.

9:18PM

GOAL! Red Star 0 Spurs 2 (Son 57)

That was a lot more like it from Spurs, and notably from Alli. Pavkov loses it and here's the mighty Ndombele powering and driving forward at pace, with superb control. He slips it to Dele Alli, who shows excellent composure and timing to feed it to the overlapping Son on the left. Son lets fly with an unstoppable shot and that is the second goal and, you would hope, the match and the knockout stages.

9:15PM

52 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 1   

Ooh, Dele Alli. Getting closer to refinding his form? I do hope so, it's always a tough watch to see a sportsperson so out of form. Then again, perhaps it can be an opportunity for a bit of perspective. Alli is in the area with the ball at his feet and a year or two or go it would be 2-0. But he looks uncertain, the ball won't quite sit for him, and the moment passes. He's like a batsman who just keeps nicking off.

9:13PM

50 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 1  

Let off! Ndombele loses it, Marin and Pavkov try a one-two but make a hash of it. The pair were in a great position.

9:11PM

48 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 1 

Kane down in the area under pressure from, I think, Nemanja Milunovic but ref not having it and understandably so.

9:06PM

46 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 1

Sissoko getting stuck in, doing his thing of winning it and driving forward.

9:05PM

The players are out on the pitch

What will we see from Red Star?

"It takes about five minutes to walk from the changing room to the pitch here," says Gary Lineker.

It does seem to be a long poke!

Marko Gobeljic has been subbed off in favour of the Brazilian Jander 

8:49PM

Half time: Red Star 0 Spurs 1

An enjoyably madcap half of football, featuring one very funny goal, one very nearly amazing own goal, two very fine saves by Spurs and an overall sense that anything could happen after half time.

8:46PM

43 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 1          

Another deeply silly moment as Red Star open Spurs up. Red Star's Van la Parra  slams it at goal, another excellent save from the Spurs keeper, and the rebound drops to Davinson Sanchez, who inadvertently nearly scores one of the own goals of the season with an accidental, but exquisite, chip of the keeper. It rattles the cross bar!

8:44PM

41 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 1         

Kane and Alli break, this is exactly the sort of situation those two scamps have enjoyed so much over the years. But Dele continues to play like someone has replaced his two feet with a toaster and a large piece of Double Gloucester, totally bungling the moment as the ball blooters off him, as if recoiling from his touch.

8:35PM

GOAL! SCENES! Red Star 0 Spurs 1 (Lo Celso 33)

Spurs on the break. This is hilarious stuff! Spurs break, Lo Celso plays it to the skipper. Kane stabs the ball and beats the keeper but it hits the post. Scramble. Son hits the ball  but it is cleared off the line.

Now Son has a chance to turn it in but hits the post. Debbie Alli barged to the ground in the area. Kane lashes it across the goal and Son knees it.... it hits the bar! More scramble madness! Finally Lo Celso shows composure to put it away. Four chances, one goal, considerable entertainment.

8:33PM

32 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0        

Milunovic picks Son's pocket just as the Spurs forward was about to have a crack, Ndombele set him up.

A busy game, you fancy a goal is coming. Rose leaves one on Garcia.

8:30PM

30 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0       

Plenty of meaty challenges coming in, and most of them seem to be on Pavkov. It's the curse of being the tall man, fella: I feel you. Dier goes in the book for a forearm smash.

Ndombele and Lo Celso each have a go with a set piece, the latter ushers in the spectacle of Sissoko with a genuinely ludicrous effort from distance.

8:27PM

25 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0      

Spurs corner but out comes the Red Star keeper with a firm punch.

8:26PM

24 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0     

Spurs break from that but Kane cannot press home the advantage.

8:24PM

23 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0    

GREAT SAVE! Spurs opened up, Red Star pour through and the shot comes in hard and low from Milan Pavkov. Paulo Gazzaniga spreads himself brilliantly to deny.

Pavkov kind of got the break of the ball as he barrelled through, he's a lovely big boy, and will feel he ought to have made Spurs pay.

8:23PM

20 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0   

Good work from Son to hold up and fashion a shooting chance but he has dragged it wide.

8:19PM

17 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0  

Corner for Spurs, but that's cleared.

8:17PM

15 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0 

Broadway Danny Rose finds Son down the left, acrobatic work from him to keep it in and get it across. No. Offside.

Rose and Kane sandwich Pavkov.

8:16PM

13mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0

But this is more like it! Sissoko plays it down the channel on the right, Ndombele keeps the move going and Kane lets rip with a shot. Side netting.

8:15PM

10 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0    

Spurs enjoying a decent amount of the ball, not creating a great deal with it just yet.

8:10PM

7 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0   

Here's that man Son with the ball in the Red Star area, this is Spurs' best move, Lo Celso also getting in the action. Milos Degenek and Harry Kane having a good physical battle, it's the big Aussie who comes off better here.

8:05PM

4 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0  

Spurs needs, and are getting, a little spell with the ball to settle them down.

Here's your problem with Dier in a ball playing centre half role: hoooooooof. Possession lost.

8:03PM

2 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0 

Sissoko gives Marin a little sharpener in the solar plexus, Marin folds like a punctured lilo.

8:02PM

1 mins: Red Star 0 Spurs 0

It's a bright start by the hosts, roared on by their supporters, as they set about Spurs right away.  Dier is playing centre half.

7:59PM

The experts say that Red Star

are a different proposition on their own turf. Certainly an atmospheric stadium.

Red Star stadium
Red Star stadium

I do hope that this doesn't spell out something unconscionable in Serbo-Croat...

7:52PM

Meanwhile, in Bavaria

Perišić has made it two for Bayern so I am pretty sure we can close the book on that one. Second place in the group is what's on the table for Spurs and Red Star.

7:45PM

Pochettino on Son

"He move on quick. We travelled from Liverpool to London, he started to feel better and he realised it was not his fault. He is in a perfect state to perform."

7:37PM

But I digress...

"Tottenham have degressed," according to Rio. He means they have gone backwards.

7:35PM

In this group's other game

The inevitable Robert Lewandowski goal has given Bryan Munchen the lead over the Olympiakos. If that result stays as it is, Bayern go through and will be on 12 points.

7:33PM

It's our old pal Charlie E!

With a.... sideways look.... at the Spurs team.

7:28PM

Be very interesting to 

see how Son pulls up for this match after all the upset last game. Poch presumably feels that he is over it. 

6:54PM

Teams in full

Red Star Belgrade: Borjan, Gobeljic, Milunovic, Degenek, Rodic,  Jovancic, Petrovic, Garcia, Marin, van La Parra, Pavkov. Subs:  Popovic, Pankov, Vulic, Richmond Boakye, Jander, Simic, Canas.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Foyth, Sanchez, Dier, Rose,  Sissoko, Ndombele, Lo Celso, Alli, Son, Kane. Subs:  Alderweireld, Vorm, Sessegnon, Eriksen, Lucas Moura, Skipp,  Davies.

Referee: Carlos Del Cerro (Spain) 

6:53PM

This man's not so keen

6:51PM

This lot of fans at least should be happy

6:49PM

Here are the teams

Red Star Belgrade: Borjan, Gobeljic, Milunovic, Degenek, Rodic,  Jovancic, Petrovic, Garcia, Marin, van La Parra, Pavkov. Subs:  Popovic, Pankov, Vulic, Richmond Boakye, Jander, Simic, Canas.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Foyth, Sanchez, Dier, Rose,  Sissoko, Ndombele, Lo Celso, Alli, Son, Kane. Subs:  Alderweireld, Vorm, Sessegnon, Eriksen, Lucas Moura, Skipp,  Davies.

Referee: Carlos Del Cerro (Spain) 

Dier plays centre back, and there are surprise starts for the returning-from-injury Argentines Lo Celso and Foyth. An eye-catching XI from MP. 

And of course Son, just days after his dramatic game at Everton.

6:14PM

Good evening

and welcome to our live blog of Tottenham's trip to Belgrade. Their North London rivals were in action this afternoon in a damp squib of a game, perhaps Spurs fans will enjoy Sam Dean's scathing assessment of Arsenal while we warm up for this one?

The other match in this group is happening as I type, with Olympiakos having their work cut out in a trip to Bayern Munich. The German powerhouse are sitting pretty on top of the group with three wins from three and even if the Greeks do upset the formbook, I would say that Spurs and Red Star are probably playing for second place. But we shall see.

A year ago to the day, Red Star Belgrade beat Liverpool 2-0 in the group stages of the 2018-2019 competition, and Liverpool of course went on to the final against Spurs. A defeat for Tottenham here, though, would be a serious problem - and given Tottenham's away form (winless in their last eight away games) who can say. I have to say, though, that I watched the reverse leg of this earlier in the season - when Spurs pumped Red Star 5-0 in North London - and the Serbian side were as bad as any team I have ever seen in the Champions League.

Tottenham no doubt will be happy to get back on the horse and just hope for a football match after all the emotion and psychodrama in the Everton match and its aftermath .

We'll find out the players who will contest this match shortly when the team news comes in.

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