It's Veni, Vidi, Vinicius as Brazilian breaks his duck in Tottenham's Europa League stroll
By Yann Tear
Tottenham 4 Ludogorets 0
Europa League Group Stage
Carlos Vinicius bagged his first goals in Tottenham colours as Spurs cruised to a group stage win which puts them firmly in sight of the knockout stages.
The Brazilian slid home calmly in the 16th minute, after a ball from Dele Alli had reached him via a deflection - Harry Kane’s understudy having oceans of space and all the time in the world to tuck home.
And in the 34th minute, he made it 2-0, putting away an unselfish square pass from Alli, who must have been tempted to help himself after keeper Plamen Iliev spilled a low shot from Tanguy Ndombele into his path.
Harry Winks added a remarkable third after 63 minutes with a speculative effort from the left touchline, which sailed over Iliev and in off the bar from at least 45 yards. Vinicius then turned provider for Lucas Moura in the 73rd minute – Alli again involved in the build-up.
There could have been even more. Ben Davies struck the outside of a post in the first half. Bale clipped two free-kicks just over and had a close-range effort saved. But this was not a contest where misses would greatly matter. The final shot count of 24-0 summed it up.
Spurs will go through to the knockout stages with a game to spare if they draw their penultimate group stage fixture against Austrians LASK next Thursday.
In this season of highly compressed itineraries, it will be a welcome luxury for Jose Mourinho to be able to go full-on second string in the final game at home to Royal Antwerp.
This was an evening for getting the job done and paying homage to Diego Maradona – who once played at White Hart Lane.
Before kick-off, the players observed a minute’s silence to mark his passing before breaking into applause in honour of one of the game’s greatest – if not greatest – ever player. Mourinho himself appeared visibly moved.
It was a fitting moment, especially when you consider the special place Argentinian footballers have in these parts following the famous arrival of 1978 World Cup stars Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.
This was also a night for avoiding injuries and flexing a few muscles ahead of Sunday’s big summit with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. That game may go a long way to answering the question of whether Spurs truly have a title bid in them and needless to say, will be far more challenging than this was.
Predictably, both Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son had the night off, but Bale was there for the start, as was Alli, who seems on trial these days and will have been glad to claim a couple of assists.
Spurs were never out of the comfort zone amid the whirring generators in their cavernous, empty arena. They beat the Bulgarians 3-1 in the reverse fixture and were expecting nothing less than a comfortable night and got it in spades.
The visitors barely ventured into the Tottenham half, let alone manage to trouble Joe Hart, who might as well have brought a deckchair and a good book to while away the time.
He was brought off towards the end to allow Alfie Whiteman to make his debut between the sticks, while U21s Dane Scarlett and Harvey White were also blooded for the first time.
Tottenham: Hart (Whiteman 82) – Doherty, Tanganga, Sanchez, Davies – Ndombele (Hojbjerg 61), Alli (White 82), Winks – Bale (Clarke 68), Vinicius, Lucas (Scarlett 82). Subs not used: Reguilon, Son, Dier, Sissoko, Aurier, Austin