Five star Spurs rediscover superiority complex to get Euro campaign up and running
Tottenham 5 Red Star 0
They sure needed this.
It wasn’t just a case of kick-starting a so-far moribund Champions League campaign, but also of recovering form which has deserted them domestically too.
Tottenham’s alarming drift down the Premier League table has prompted a degree of soul-searching about personnel and direction and although one good night will not banish the doubts, it will lift the mood in the camp and in the vertiginous south stand at this magnificent new stadium.
Now, strange as it may seem following the 7-2 savaging at the hands of Bayern Munich in their previous group game, an easier path to the knock outs presents itself than last season, when they only took a single point from their opening three ties.
They have the return fixture in Belgrade in a fortnight followed by a home match against Olympiacos, having drawn against the Greeks in their opening fixture in Piraeus.
With any luck, the trip to Munich in December will be irrelevant.
That is not to say that Red Star, champions of Europe in 1991, will be as compliant on home soil as they were tonight at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. And they did beat eventual champions Liverpool 2-0 in Serbia last season in a group fixture. But on this evidence, they really should present only a minor challenge.
Spurs got exactly the start they were after when Harry Kane rose between two defenders at the near post to glance in a header from an Erik Lamela corner.
That goal came in the ninth minute and already Mauricio Pochettino’s men had threatened by then, with Heung Min Son and Kane both charging at a retreating Red Star defence to create havoc.
It was no surprise that the irrepressible South Korean was soon on the scoresheet – racing into the six-yard box on 16 minutes to half-volley a Lamela cross from the right into the roof of the net, with Keeper Milan Borjan nowhere near it.
Soon after, the keeper clawed away a Lamela shot which lobbed up off the Argentinian’s weaker right foot and more goals looked inevitable, even if the visitors managed to put the brakes on the one-way traffic for a bit to infiltrate enemy lines, led by ex-Chelsea man Marko Marin.
Just before the break, Son made it 3-0, rolling the ball home after a break from half way and simple pass into space by the long-striding Tanguy Ndombele. That slightly forgotten feeling of superiority had returned.
Lamela, who enjoyed a fine night, spurned an easy chance on his right foot after the break but made amends by turning in the fourth with his favoured peg – Serge Aurier the supplier.
A good save from Borjan denied him a second goal soon after and Son was inches from a treble, clipping a shot into the side-netting. But Kane added a fifth on 72 minutes, being given time to turn and select an unguarded piece of netting. It was his 18th goal in 22 European games.
A serene night's work then. And in the short term, the hope for Spurs is that the win will provide the sounder-footing they need ahead of Sunday’s little domestic matter at Anfield against the league leaders.
Line up: Gazzaniga – Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen (Foyth 72), Davies – Ndombele, Sissoko – Lamela, Alli (Lo Celso 79), Son (Dier 68) – Kane. Subs not used: Austin, Winks, Eriksen, Moura.