After the most dreadful run of form in Mauricio Pochettino’s time in North London, Tottenham needed a response on Tuesday night.
They got it.
Spurs came out of the gates flying and rolled over Red Star Belgrade 5-0 to pick up their first win of this year’s Champions League campaign. Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane each had two goals, and Erik Lamela added one of his own.
It was a complete performance the likes of which Spurs hadn’t produced in any of their previous matches in Group B.
Looking at the way the Lilywhites played, Pochettino got his team selection right. Toby Alderweireld wasn’t in the squad, but Davinson Sanchez came in to partner with Jan Vertonghen in defense. Tanguy Ndombele worked well with Moussa Sissoko in midfield, and a familiar front saw Harry Kane play with Dele Alli, Son, and Erik Lamela.
It was a motivated performance from Spurs from the get-go. Pochettino had clearly told his side to press the Serbian team high, and it worked quite well. Tottenham were all over Red Star.
Kane made good on that dominance in just the ninth minute. He made a smart run at the near post on a corner and flicked a header over Milan Borjan in goal.
Spurs have scored first a couple times during their recent struggles only to then lose that lead later on. On this night, the squad seemed determined not to let that happen.
Son followed up Kane’s goal with one of his own a few minutes later. Lamela did well to find space on the right to deliver a cross, and Sonny was there at the back post to smash a volley into the top of the net.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was vibrant and happy and loud in a positive way for the first time in a while. And the Spurs players themselves seemed to be having fun again.
The visitors had a few forays down the pitch, but Spurs continued to work hard and produce opportunities that made them look like the more dangerous team.
Eventually, a third goal came just before the break. Again, it was Son who supplied the finish. Ndombele drove forward after a bad giveaway from a Red Star defender, and then the midfielder found Son open on the left. The South Korean calmly slotted a finish past the keeper.
Spurs started the second half with a little less ferocity, but they still found another goal before too long.
The reward for Lamela’s tremendous performance arrived in the 57th minute. Serge Aurier dribbled past a couple opposing players and found the Argentinian with a pass right on the penalty spot. Lamela turned towards his favored left foot and fired a shot over Borjan.
Still, Pochettino’s side weren’t done.
Kane got his second goal a bit later in the half. He received the ball on the left side of the box and worked his defender in deeper until he was able to simply pass the ball inside the far post. It was a bit of classic Harry Kane.
Red Star had a couple chances to get on the scoreboard, but their efforts either missed the mark or were tame and saved by Paulo Gazzaniga.
In the end, it was an easy victory for Tottenham, and one that they really needed.
Another positive sign for the club was the return of Giovani Lo Celso from a hip injury. He replaced Dele with about 10 minutes to go in regulation.
Elsewhere, Olympiakos lost to Bayern, so Spurs are up into second place in the group. Winning the group is unlikely, but at this point it’s all about qualification for the next round, and the Lilywhites took a big step in that direction on Tuesday night.