Spurs went to Serbia and beat Red Star Belgrade 3-0 at the Rajko Mitic Stadium. Giovani Lo Celso opened the scoring with his first goal for the club, and Son Heung-Min followed that up with a brace of his own. Christian Eriksen put the cherry on top with a consolation goal.
The intimidating atmosphere in Belgrade didn’t phase Mauricio Pochettino’s team. Spurs took care of business to significantly boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition.
Lo Celso started a game for the first time in a Spurs shirt as the much requested partnership of the Argentinian and Tanguy Ndombele was utilized from the get-go. Harry Kane also came back into the team after an illness, and the back line looked a bit different, with Eric Dier chosen at center back opposite Davinson Sanchez, and Danny Rose and Juan Foyth setting up at fullback.
Red Star fans weren’t allowed to buy tickets at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium a couple weeks ago, but they made themselves heard throughout this one. There was a constant stream of boos whenever Spurs had the ball in possession.
And they had a lot of possession.
Tottenham controlled the first half, with Red Star content to sit back and take their chances to attack on the counter.
The home side defended well early on, and Mauricio Pochettino’s squad found them a tough nut to crack. There weren’t many clear cut opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.
The first real chance of the game fell to Red Star. Foyth made a solid tackle in an attempt to thwart an attack, but Milan Pavkov got lucky as the ball went through the defender and into a dangerous scoring position. Pavkov’s shot wasn’t as lucky, as Paulo Gazzaniga made himself big to save.
There weren’t a ton of chances, but there were plenty of fouls in the game’s opening frame. Dier was shown a questionable yellow card after a series of cynical fouls from Red Star players had not been similarly punished.
Spurs were eventually able to pull ahead after an absurd sequence in front of goal.
Lo Celso broke forward on a break and found Kane, but his poke of a shot was unlucky to come back off the post. Sonny found that rebound, but his shot was cleared off the line. Dele Alli tried a bicycle kick before Kane crossed the ball to Son, whose effort clattered off the crossbar. That final rebound was then dispatched into the net by Lo Celso.
What a way to score your first goal for the club.
Gazzaniga was called into action to preserve the lead at the end of the half. Marko Marin hit the post, and then a deflected shot on the rebound hit the crossbar.
It was a warning sign for Spurs that the game wasn’t over despite their one-goal lead.
And the home side almost went further than just a warning at the beginning of the second half. Ndombele had a bad giveaway, but Pavkov messed it up. He had options, but picked the wrong one and the move fell apart.
Spurs made Red Star pay for their miss a few minutes later.
Ndombele created the goal with some tremendous strength. He held off a defender on the break and found Dele at the top of the box. Dele slotted Son into the box, and the South Korean finished powerfully into the roof of the net.
After he scored, Son made a heart with his hands to the camera in an apparent message for Andre Gomes. It was a great touch.
Then, another great touch. Son scored again!
Kane played a brilliant pass forward to Rose down the left, and Rose produced a cross that Son smashed by Milan Borjan. It was a third goal that essentially killed off the game.
Spurs cruised for the rest of the match. Ryan Sessegnon came on for his second appearance for the club, which lasted about 16 minutes.
The 19-year-old played on the left in attack and managed to bag an assist. He drove forward and found Eriksen in the box, and the Dane’s shot was deflected past the keeper.
When all was said and done, it was a massive win for Spurs. Elsewhere, Olympiacos lost to Bayern Munich, so Tottenham’s chances of advancing are looking quite good.
Up next, a return to the Premier League where the Lilywhites will have to face the upstarts from Sheffield United.