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Erik Lamela’s Brilliant Rabona Helps Tottenham Beat Asteras Tripolis

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EVEN Bill Nicholson will not have witnessed many more remarkable games than this dizzying offering that ended with Harry Kane walking away with the match ball and the Tottenham goalkeeper’s gloves. But that was not even half the story given Erik Lamela’s earlier wonder strike that set Spurs on their way to a first European victory of the campaign.

It was a fitting tribute to Nicholson, the great Tottenham manager, who died 10 years ago this week. Quite what he would have made of it all is anyone’s guess but one thing is for sure: the 21,428 who witnessed it got their money’s worth. Even before Kane had stooped, stumbled and fumbled a late Tripolis free-kick into his own net, this match had provided five goals. The sixth was simply comical, the Greeks gifted that consolation after Hugo Lloris, the Tottenham goalkeeper, was sent off moments before.

Mauricio Pochettino was so annoyed by the farcical finale that he seemed to have forgotten his side had thrashed the previous group leaders. Tottenham were rampant and ruthless, Kane stealing the show but Lamela providing a moment of quality that will undoubtedly be the finest goal in the Europa League this season.

The Argentinian scored twice but it was his first-half rabona that sparked a gasp from all inside the stadium. It set the bar for an evening of joyful entertainment, even if Pochettino struggled to muster a smile.

“I’m happy for the result, 5-1. I’m disappointed with the last five minutes,” said the Spurs manager. “We need to manage the game better. It was unlucky because it was a red card but I am not happy. Our defensive line was very high and we gave them the opportunity to play in behind. We were not ready and focused. We gave them the opportunity to play one-on-one with our keeper.”

Jerónimo Barrales was the grateful recipient of Kane’s late gaffe but the free-kick from 25 yards will have done little to raise the visiting team’s spirits. Although Tripolis had numerous opportunities, their defending was at times dreadful.

Spurs were in need of a win given their position in Group C before kick-off. Two draws from two had eased them into the campaign but, given that Tripolis topped the standings having won in Belgrade and drawn against Besiktas, the unexpected leaders had emerged as the team to beat in their debut campaign.

The small number of travelling supporters at least saw some action but it was all at the wrong end. Kane gave Spurs the lead, receiving the ball from Etienne Capoue and rifling a low shot past the opposing goalkeeper, Tomas Kosicky, before Lamela’s exquisite piece of brilliance in the 29th minute.

He received the ball just outside the area following good work from Emmanuel Adebayor and wrapped his left foot behind his standing right. The contact was pure and the direction perfect. Ben Davies could only put his hands on his head in disbelief. Pochettino, remarkably, did not react at all.

The Spurs manager was furious, though, moments later when Lamela dawdled on the ball in midfield when Adebayor should have been fed through on goal. It was certainly a strange few minutes but, retreating down the tunnel at half-time, Lamela looked as if he felt 10ft tall.

Pochettino said: “Today Besiktas won in Partizan and we are ahead with Besiktas in the group. There are three games to play and all is possible. For us it is a good victory today. Three points were very important for us.”

Lamela had a second shortly after half-time. Tripolis were guilty of more poor defending and allowed the 22-year-old time and space in the area after he was played in by Kane. His initial shot was blocked into the air but he lashed a left-footed volley under the goalkeeper from the rebound. For Kane, meanwhile, the fun was just beginning.

He swept in with 16 minutes remaining after Kosicky had spilled an initial shot from Mousa Dembélé, and soon had a hat-trick. The young striker headed in from a Federico Fazio cross before replacing Lloris after the Frenchman was shown a red card in the closing stages for bringing down Tasos Tsokanis.

Sadly for Kane, his golden touch deserted him after pulling on Lloris’s purple jersey. Even so, it was a night he will never forget.

“It was a great result for us, a great win, and obviously I’m happy to get the hat-trick,” said Kane. “I thought it was good to get the second and third, extra goals when the team are dead on their feet and when we want to start killing off teams.

“It was a great night until I went in goal. In fairness I think I’ll leave that to the keepers from now on.” – The Guardian

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