After last week’s frustrating 3-3 draw with LASK, it was tough to take any real positives from that performance. However, a point against the Austrian side meant that Spurs had cemented their place in the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
Despite qualification being wrapped up, Spurs sat second in Group J. Meaning they needed to beat Royal Antwerp in the last game of the group to finish first.
Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side that won 2-0 in last Sunday’s North London derby against Arsenal. Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso being the only two remaining in the starting eleven.
Tottenham seemed to be in control of the game from start to finish, as Antwerp failed to register a single shot on target during the 90 minute affair.
With the score still at 0-0, half-time saw Reguilon make way for winger Steven Bergwijn, as Mourinho decided to shuffle the pack by going to a back four for the remaining 45 minutes.
Although looking comfortable, it took until the 57th minute and a moment of brilliance from Gareth Bale for Spurs to find a breakthrough.
The Welshman stood over a free-kick from at least 30 yards away and launched a rocket of a strike towards the top right corner, which was somehow tipped onto the post by Beiranvand.
Carlos Vinicius was the first to react to the loose ball, finishing into an empty net to give Spurs a 1-0 lead in front of 2,000 loyal supporters.
Bizarrely, Jose Mourinho made a triple substitution seconds after taking the lead, with the goalscorer Carlos Vinicius making way alongside Gareth Bale and Harry Winks for Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Tanguy Ndombele.
To nobody’s surprise the substitutes settled into the game instantly. A nice piece of linkup play between Bergwijn and Son resulted in Beiranvand having to turn away another shot which could have doubled Tottenham’s lead.
The changes didn’t stop there for the North London side, as in the 68th minute Moussa Sissoko was introduced at the expense of Lucas Moura.
Two minutes later, Lo Celso latched onto a Kane through ball and guided an outside the boot finish into the bottom left corner.
The Argentine put in a performance of the highest quality: recording an 82% pass success rate, twelve recoveries, four crosses, four chances created, six dribbles completed and scoring a goal.
Lo Celso’s performance may have spoken for itself but it didn’t stop Jose Mourinho from adding further praise.
“He was at a high level last season but got an injury and didn’t have a pre-season.
“He’s playing in the Europa League and coming off the bench in the Premier League. He played the last match well and this match very well. This is more like normal Gio.
“When he’s fit he can show that the intensity is there.”
The result now means that Spurs sit atop of the Premier League and their Europa League group and now look forward to the Round of 32 draw.
The possible opponents for the Round of 32 consist of Krasnodar, Red Bull Salzburg, Olympiakos, Dynamo Kiev, Young Boys, Molde, Slavia Prague, Lille, Benfica, Granada, Real Sociedad, Braga, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Wolfsburg and Crvena Zvezda.
Written by Reece Coughlan
Edited by Joey Pickthall