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Tottenham 7-2 Maccabi Haifa: Kane hat-trick sees Spurs through to Europa League group stage

After quite a few adventures, the group stage now awaits Tottenham.

Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa: UEFA Europa League Play-Off Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Three games in five games was a daunting task, but Spurs have handled it admirably.

On Thursday, Tottenham’s offense was on point in a 6-2 win over Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. Harry Kane scored a hat-trick, and Giovani Lo Celso scored a brace to send Spurs into the group stage of the Europa League.

In what was the last test of the qualification rounds, Jose Mourinho opted for something quite close to a first-choice team. Kane was up top with Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn, Lo Celso, and Harry Winks supporting him. Joe Hart got the start in goal, with Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez partnering in central defense between Ben Davies and Matt Doherty.

There was a place on the bench for Dele Alli after it seemed like he might be on his way out of the club.

The match started perfectly for the home side. Davies broke down the left inside two minutes, and he played a perfect ball across goal to Kane, who only had to tap the ball into the net for the game’s opening goal.

Perhaps as a warning of what was to come, Hart was called into action a few minutes later when he saved a shot from Tjaronn Chery.

Spurs almost added to their lead over the next few minutes. Lo Celso was first to a ball and burst into the box, but his shot was wide. Then, Kane almost found himself in a position to pounce on a spill from American Maccabi keeper Josh Cohen.

Chery had nearly scored earlier, and he did find the net via a sensational effort on 17 minutes. The former QPR man curled one into the top corner from nearly 30 yards out to tie the score.

But Spurs were quick with their own response. A corner was won, and Lucas Moura popped up at the near post with a quality header that went past Cohen to restore the lead.

After that hectic opening 20 minutes, things settled down slightly for a period, until Lo Celso broke the game wide open.

Lucas got his head to a Doherty cross, but his header was blocked by a Maccabi defender. The ball wasn’t cleared, though, and Lo Celso was there to curl it into the top corner for his first goal since January.

A few minutes later, the Argentinian struck again. Neta Lavi made a defensive mistake, and Kane pounced. The Englishman pushed forward and eventually slotted a ball through to Lo Celso, who simply chipped the ball past an onrushing Cohen.

Spurs went into the break up 4-1, with the game seemingly in hand.

With another big game looming in Manchester on Sunday, Dele was brought on at the start of the second half for Lo Celso.

Haifa were actually awarded a penalty in the opening minutes of the half, but it looked like a dubious handball call against Doherty. Nikita Rukavytsya stepped up and finished calmly to bring the visitors somewhat back into the contest.

They almost found another goal a few moments later when Abu Fani had a go from outside the box, but Hart got over well to tip it past the post.

French referee Ruddy Buquet gave another questionable handball penalty a few minutes later, this time in Tottenham’s favor. Kane stepped up to the spot, and once again Darude’s “Sandstorm” blasted around North London.

The Israeli side thought they had trimmed the lead once again when Rukavytsya put the ball in the net, but the assistant referee had correctly flagged for offside.

Then it was Lucas’ turn to come close. Dele played him in at the top of the box, but his stinging effort went just over the bar.

Curiously, Kane still hadn’t been subbed off with the game pretty much settled, that is, until he got his hat-trick. Dele sprang Bergwijn down the left, the winger got by a slipping defender, and crossed one in for Kane to chip over a helpless Josh Cohen to make it 6-2.

After that, the game was drifting to its predictable end. Subs were made to rest legs on both sides, and then there was one more penalty for Spurs.

Dele earned the spot kick after a nice spin in the box, and he was then chosen to finish the chance from the penalty spot.

The referee finally blew an end to the match with a 7-2 final, something that resembled more of a baseball score than a soccer final.

Friay will bring the draw for the group stage of the competition, which is scheduled to begin later this month.