Tottenham complete their unbeaten run in Group H of the Champions League with a 2-0 win, with Mauricio Pochettino’s new-look side dominating APOEL from the off.
It was the kind of performance Spurs required for a much-needed confidence boost. With marquee starters – Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier and Ben Davies – all resting for the meaningless match, Spurs still enjoyed a carefree day at the office.
APOEL were more combative in the second half, the side from Cyprus conjuring chances that weren’t forthcoming in the first 45. Danny Rose, who was otherwise ineffective, made a great kick save in the early stages of the second half, bailing out Michel Vorm. The deflection could have gone anywhere. Luckily for Rose and Spurs, the deliberate deflection zipped wide of Vorm’s far post.
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Tottenham had fewer chances in the second stanza, with the Lilywhites visibly taking their collective foot off the petrol.
Georges-Kévin Nkoudou scored his first Champions League goal with some silky smooth skills in the 81st minute. His resulting shot took a big deflection, but the Frenchman will surely claim the goal, and rightfully so.
The other noteworthy occurrence of the second half saw Rose replaced by Kyle Walker-Peters midway through the second half. Predictably, Rose, like a petulant child, stormed off, beelining for Tottenham’s locker room.
The writing could be on the wall for the Tottenham outcast, as, by the look of things, Mauricio Pochettino has finally had enough of the prima donna’s sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude.
Spurs enjoyed a lollygag in the park during the first 45 minutes at Wembley against a defeated, beleaguered APOEL side. Fernando Llorente almost opened the scoring from a towering header, but his attempt on goal was parried aside by Nauzet Pérez. Tottenham couldn’t bundle home the rebound, but the home side showed their domineering intent from the off.
The snakebitten Spaniard then opened his Spurs account in the 20th minute from a wonderfully constructed sequence. Harry Winks played a splendid ball into space for Serge Aurier to chase. The Ivorian found Llorente with a whipped in delivery. The Spaniard expertly cushioned the ball, turning on a dime to deposit his first Tottenham goal.
You could see the relief written all over the big man’s face. Llorente played an integral part in Tottenham’s second goal, too, which was orchestrated and finished by the South Korean boy wonder. Son Heung-Min played tag with Llorente, eventually whipping a left-footed effort into the side netting to double Spurs lead.
Juan Foyth, in his first Champions League start, looked comfortable throughout the first stanza.
Then again, APOEL barely had a sniff on Michel Vorm’s goal. Mickaël Poté couldn’t get in front of a header which lofted high into the sky for Vorm to easily claim. It was APOEL’s only attempt on goal in the first half.
Such was Spurs dominance in the first 45.
Hopefully this performance will light a fire under Eriksen, Vertonghen, Dier and Davies, who will be raring to make amends for their latest disappointing run of results come Saturday against Stoke.