Tottenham 3-0 Pacos de Ferreira: Five things we learnt, plus player ratings from European Conference League clash
Harry Kane marked his first start for Tottenham Hotspur this season with a brace as they beat Portuguese side Paços de Ferreira 3-0 in the second leg of their Europa Conference League tie.
The England captain was back in Nuno Espirito Santo’s side just days after he took to Twitter to announce that he’d be staying at the club this summer, despite being strongly linked with a move to Manchester City.
He was a late substitute in the 1-0 victory against Wolves last weekend in the Premier League and sat out the first leg of the tie against Paços – a match which Spurs also lost 1-0.
Tottenham turned things around on Thursday evening to reach the Europa Conference League group stage, however, with Lo Celso’s deflected effort adding to Kane’s superb brace.
What we learnt:
Tottenham continue strong start to the season
Tottenham produced a dominant display to pick up their third win in four games under new manager Nuno.
Last week’s defeat in Portugal remains the only stain on their strong start to the season and they made sure they immediately corrected that misstep with a disciplined, determined, and diligent display to progress to the group stage of the maiden Europa Conference League.
Victories against Premier League champions Manchester City and Nuno’s former side, Wolves, have lifted hopes of a special domestic season ahead while the progression to the group stages of Europa Conference League increases the chances of finally winning their first trophy since 2012.
Kane off the mark
Harry Kane wasted little time in endearing himself with the Spurs faithful once again, scoring two quick goals to break any potential resistance Pacos might have had in the first half.
Having been linked with a move away all summer, and with reports suggesting that he was refusing to turn up for training in a bid to force a move away, his goals on Thursday went some way to healing the wounds that may have opened up over the last few weeks.
He lasted 70 minutes due to a lack of match sharpness, but his body language and overall performance suggested he’s already put this summer’s saga behind him and is ready to go again. No doubt that will be music to Nuno's ears.
New signing Bryan Gil shines
The Spanish winger was a breath of fresh air. His runs from deep caused the opposition problems all night, and he should have topped off a brilliant display with a goal. His attitude and skill throughout looked to be a welcome addition to this Tottenham team.
Gil never stopped running and will score a lot of goals based on the evidence of today’s performance.
Eric Dier rolling back the years
Eric Dier produced yet another confident display as he continued his renaissance under the new manager. He limited the attacking space of the opposition and controlled the back line with a great deal of ease and dexterity.
The 27-year-old has looked a different man so far this season and his leadership and experience were clear to see, as he continues to build a budding centre-back pairing with new man Cristian Romero.
There were times under Jose Mourinho last season when some fans wanted him out of the club, but those calls have died down now and there are even talks in the background of a new contract offer being put on the table.
Home fans enjoying themselves again
There were only 30,215 fans in attendance at Thursday's game, but it felt like the roof was coming off. From the applause when Harry Kane's name was read out to the roar when he slotted home his goal of the season, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was bouncing.
The state-of-the-art ground is one of the best in the world and when the football is good as it was last night, the whole place turns into a cathedral of noise.
Tottenham: Pierluigi Gollini 7, Matt Doherty 6, Cristian Romero 6, Harry Winks 6.5, Bryan Gil 7.5, Eric Dier 7, Lo Celso 6, Ryan Sessegnon 6, Lucas Moura 6.5, Ben Davies 6, Harry Kane 8.5
Subs: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 5.5, Steve Bergwijn 5, Heung Min-Son 6, Dele Alli 4
Tottenham will look to continue their winning start to the Premier League season when they host Watford on Sunday.
Spurs then make the short trip to Selhurst Park to take on Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace on September 11th, before returning home to host Chelsea.