Tottenham will be seeded in the draw for the last 32 of the Europa League after beating Royal Antwerp to leapfrog the Belgian side and win Group J.
Jose Mourinho took the opportunity to rest most of his first-choice XI, including in-form attacking pair Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, but the Premier League leaders still had too much for their opponents.
Gareth Bale and Carlos Vinicius combined for the opening goal with visiting goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand palming the former’s dipping, long-range free-kick on to the post before the latter followed up to finish into an empty net.
Prior to that, it had been a drab and largely shot-shy affair, barring a Giovani lo Celso shot from the edge of the box and an effort just inside it from Vinicius, both of which were saved.
Kane and Son were introduced to positive effect on the hour and it helped Spurs cement their grip on the game, with the England striker setting up Lo Celso to score a neat second.
As group winners, Tottenham will be in the seeded pot for Monday’s draw, which should bring them a more favourable tie in the last 32. Antwerp join them as unseeded group runners-up.
Lo Celso stakes his claim
Antwerp beat a very lacklustre Spurs in the reverse fixture in October, in which Mourinho made four changes at half-time and voiced his displeasure about it afterwards, including in an Instagram picture of himself alone on the team bus.
Tottenham were better than that on Thursday, but only just in a dour first half that yielded few chances and little evidence that those on the periphery of the first team are deserving of a Premier League start.
Spurs’ second string were able to take the lead thanks to Vinicius’ third Tottenham goal, all of which have come in this competition, but it was telling that Mourinho turned to his attacking big guns almost immediately to ensure the win.
There was an instant lift, with Son drawing a good save from Beiranvand before Kane headed just wide from a corner.
Lo Celso ensured the win, capping a man-of-the-match display in which he was at the heart of much of the night’s positivity with a cool, prodded finish.
The Argentine started in the north London derby win over Arsenal at the weekend and deserves to retain his place when they visit Crystal Palace on Sunday (14:15 GMT), although playing 90 minutes here may count against him.
Many of the rest of this team are likely to have to wait for the last 32 in this competition, which takes place in February.
Kane leads assist league in Europe’s top leagues
- Tottenham’s Harry Kane has 13 assists in all competitions this season, the most of any player within Europe’s top-five leagues – three ahead of Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne with 10.
- Including qualifiers, Spurs have won seven of their nine European matches in 2020/21 (D1 L1), topping their group to qualify for the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League.
- Royal Antwerp suffered only their second UEFA Europa League defeat of the season and their first away from home, having won their previous two away games.
- Spurs have recorded six consecutive home wins in all competitions for the first time since December 2018.
- In all competitions, Tottenham’s Harry Kane has been directly involved in more goals in 18 appearances this season (27 – 14 goals, 13 assists) than he was in 34 appearances in 2019/20 (26 – 24 goals, 2 assists).
- Carlos Vinicius has been directly involved in six goals in three UEFA Europa League appearances at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (3 goals, 3 assists).
- Jose Mourinho has won 18 of his last 19 home matches in games played on Thursday (D1), winning all five with Tottenham.
- Spurs have won 15 of their 18 home UEFA Europa League group stage matches (D2 L1).
- 6D SánchezBooked at 86mins
- 8WinksSubstituted forNdombeleat 59′minutes
- 18Lo Celso
- 3ReguilónSubstituted forBergwijnat 45′minutes
- 9BaleSubstituted forSon Heung-Minat 58′minutes
- 45Alves MoraisSubstituted forKaneat 59′minutes
- 27Lucas MouraSubstituted forSissokoat 68′minutes
- 7Son Heung-Min
- 1Safar Beiranvand
- 30Ulineia Buta
- 4SeckBooked at 25minsSubstituted forVerstraeteat 72′minutes
- 94J LukakuSubstituted forJuklerødat 59′minutes
- 28BensonSubstituted forMiyoshiat 72′minutes
- 18HonglaSubstituted forBoyaat 59′minutes
- 11RefaelovSubstituted forAmpomahat 45′minutesBooked at 77mins
- 2de Laet
- Jesús Gil Manzano
Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur 2, Royal Antwerp 0.
Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur 2, Royal Antwerp 0.
Attempt missed. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.
Foul by Birger Verstraete (Royal Antwerp).
Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dylan Batubinsika (Royal Antwerp).
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotspur) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Cristian Benavente (Royal Antwerp) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotspur).
Attempt missed. Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Giovani Lo Celso with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Birger Verstraete.
Attempt missed. Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Son Heung-Min with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Dylan Batubinsika (Royal Antwerp).
Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Dylan Batubinsika (Royal Antwerp) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur).
Nana Ampomah (Royal Antwerp) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Nana Ampomah (Royal Antwerp).
Davinson Sánchez (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.