Wembley wasn’t full, and the game would have no effect on Spurs’ fate in the Champions League, but that didn’t matter. The Lilywhites still came out and did their job.
Tottenham beat APOEL 3-0 on Wednesday, and they scored some really nice goals in the process. It wasn’t a first-choice squad, but it still would’ve been an entertaining show for those who made the trip to Northwest London. The Group H winners finished off the group stage in style.
Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes from the 1-1 draw with Watford. Davinson Sanchez and Dele Alli kept their places, but the rest of the squad was heavily rotated. Georges-Kevin N’Koudou notably made his first start for Spurs since January, and Juan Foyth was the man selected to partner Sanchez in central defense.
Despite a possible lack of motivation, Spurs started quite brightly. Serge Aurier and Son Heung-min almost opened the scoring in the initial few minutes with shots from long range.
They came even closer a few minutes later. APOEL keeper Nauzet saved from Fernando Llorente, Sanchez, and then N’Koudou in quick succession off a free kick. It was one of those sequences where it seemed harder for Spurs to miss than to score.
Tottenham continued to pressure and their goal came eventually via two summer signings. Serge Aurier crossed the ball into the box, putting it right at the feet of Fernando Llorente. Llorente turned delicately and fired the ball into the net. Harry Winks’ initial pass to spring Aurier down the right was also pretty brilliant.
The visitors surprised the Wembley crowd by coming back into the game a bit as the half went on. But it was ultimately for naught, as Pochettino’s side soon added to their lead.
Llorente and Son combined well, with the Spaniard perfectly setting up the Korean for a shot from the top of the box. Son curled the ball into the side netting, giving the keeper no chance. It was another impressive goal made to look easy by Sonny.
APOEL looked better offensively in the second half. Roland Sallai came on at the break and quickly created some dangerous openings for the Cypriots. They appealed for a few penalties, and had some deflected efforts, but never got on the board.
There were a few incidents in the second frame which caused the referee to issue yellow cards. Aurier could’ve seen red for a stomp on an APOEL attacker, and Danny Rose saw yellow after a coming together with Sallai. Rose came out of the scuffle with a cut on his face, and was subbed off for Kyle Walker-Peters presumably so Danny could be properly stitched-up.
N’Koudou played well in his return from Pochettino’s dog house, and capped off his performance with a goal late on. The Frenchman faked a shot to get past a defender, and then found the back of the net via a deflection.
Spurs didn’t have the same intensity as the game wore down, but who can really blame them. They got the goals they needed to secure their fifth win of the group stage.
Now they can look forward to the draw for the knockout stage, and can start to refocus on the Premier League.