Tottenham secure top spot with Europa League victory over Royal Antwerp

Posted Friday, December 11, 2020 by PA

Tottenham secure top spot with Europa League victory over Royal Antwerp

Tottenham ensured they finished top of Group J in the Europa League with a 2-0 win over Royal Antwerp.

Spurs needed to beat the Belgian side to finish at the summit and secure a seeding for the next stage, and second-half goals from Carlos Vinicius and Giovani Lo Celso got the job done.

Jose Mourinho again saw his side produce a flat first-half performance, a key feature of their group campaign, but would have been happy with what he witnessed after the break.

Vinicius tapped in after Gareth Bale’s free-kick had been tipped onto the post and then Lo Celso buried Antwerp with a cool finish with 20 minutes to go.

It means Spurs will get an opponent who finished in second place in Monday’s draw for the last 32, or one of the four unseeded sides who have dropped down from the Champions League.

It would have been a much easier night had they taken one of two early chances from set-pieces.

First Japhet Tanganga headed a free-kick just wide and then, when the referee bizarrely gave a corner, Bale glanced just off target.

That would have given Spurs a decent tonic, but instead they laboured and, after Mourinho claimed last week that some of his players were not motivated to play in this competition, he looked to be proved right.

Tottenham secure top spot with Europa League victory over Royal Antwerp
Jose Mourinho will have been pleased with his side’s second-half performance (Adam Davy/PA)

Lo Celso began to get on the ball a bit more and had a shot blocked after a smart turn in the area and then an industrious run ended with Alireza Beiranvand making a good stretching save.

Spurs had their best moment just before the break as Lucas Moura played Vinicius through on goal, but the Brazilian was closed down by Beiranvand, who made a save with his body.

Bale had largely been anonymous as he struggles to return to the top of his game, but he rolled back the years to set up Tottenham’s opener.

The Wales international unleashed a swerving 35-yard free-kick that had Beiranvand in all sorts of problems, with the keeper fumbling onto the post allowing Vinicius a simple tap-in.

That goal did not alter Mourinho’s plans of sending the big guns on and Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele all entered the field immediately after as the Portuguese ensured there were no hiccups.

Tottenham secure top spot with Europa League victory over Royal Antwerp
Giovani Lo Celso scored Tottenham’s second (Adam Davy/PA)

The dynamic duo of Son and Kane could have killed the game with 25 minutes left as they both had good chances.

Son saw a fierce effort tipped over by Beiranvand and then Kane nodded the resulting corner wide when he should have scored.

There was little surprise that Kane was involved in the goal that did send Spurs 2-0 up as in the 70th minute he rolled in Lo Celso, who neatly tucked the ball home.

Kane almost got on the scoresheet at the end, but after a twisting run he could not get an off-balance shot on target.

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