Tottenham top group as Lo Celso hands Mourinho selection headache

Date published: Thursday 10th December 2020 9:52

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Giovani Lo Celso inspired Tottenham to a 2-0 victory over Antwerp that secured their progression to the knockout stages as group winners.

With a win required to overhaul their opponents and top the group, Spurs were handed an early scare inside three minutes.

Antwerp right-back Aurélio Buta ghosted in behind Tottenham’s defence down the left, but his run was premature as the flag correctly went up for offside.

Handed a rare start in attack, Gareth Bale found himself in the thick of the action early. A corner won by Japhet Tanganga was met by the Welshman, but his headed effort drifted wide of the mark.

Tanganga then became centre of attention for the wrong reasons when appearing to injure his shoulder.

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The defender fell awkwardly following a collision, but after receiving treatment for several minutes, was deemed capable of continuing.

A chance came and went for Carlos Vinicius, but the half did not truly liven up until the half-hour mark.

Cristian Benavente found himself set free, but his first touch took him away from goal. His resulting effort from an acute angle failed to trouble deputy stopper Joe Hart.

A mazy run from Giovani Lo Celso then sparked Tottenham into life, with the Argentine deciding to take matters into his own hands entirely.

His effort from the edge of the area forced a smart save from Antwerp’s goalkeeper as both sides gradually began to open up.

As half-time approached, Vinicius wasted a glorious opportunity to endear himself to the Tottenham fans.

Lucas Moura played him through following a fast break, but the forward’s left-footed strike was too central and was comfortably smothered to safety by Alireza Beiranvand.

Steven Bergwijn was introduced at the break as Spurs went in search of the three points they needed to emerged as group winners.

Abdoulaye Seck appeared fortunate to escape a second yellow when fouling Moura as he hared towards the Antwerp box.

The yellow card was produced, but for a member of Tottenham’s coaching staff after remonstrating too fiercely.

Frowns soon became smiles seconds later when Vinicius scored perhaps the easiest goal of his career.

From fully 30-yards, Bale fired a sublime free-kick goal-bound. Beiranvand tipped the strike onto the post but the ball rebounded perfectly towards Vinicius who made no mistake from three yards.

Unsatisfied despite the advantage, Mourinho turned to his bench and brought on the deadly duo of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

The tempo and levels of threat immediately ramped up. Son unleashed a pair of efforts that both required smart saves, while Kane somehow nodded a header narrowly wide when all the world expected the net to bulge.

Spurs’ advantage was finally doubled moments later after Kane racked up yet another assist.

The England centre-forward teed up the vibrant Lo Celso who prodded the ball past Beiranvand to make it 2-0.

Lo Celso continued to sparkle as the game drew to a close, earning an ovation from the fans in attendance following a lengthy dribble that resulted in a corner.

Tottenham eventually emerged victors via a 2-0 scoreline, a win that ensures they will be seeded in Monday’s draw for the knockout stages.

 

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