As Carlos Vinicius and Giovani Lo Celso’s second-half goals helped Jose Mourinho’s side to a 2-0 victory over Royal Antwerp on Thursday, Tottenham sealed top spot in Europa League Group J.
In October, Premier League leaders Spurs lost the reverse fixture 1-0 – their only group loss – and needed a victory to usurp Antwerp in front of their 2,000 supporters, who had also already booked a last-32 spot.
In the first half devoid of any real action, the visitors more than kept their own but Vinicius tapped in with 56 minutes played after the magnificent free-kick of Gareth Bale hit the post and landed at the feet of the Brazilian forward.
At that point, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane were added and for the second, the latter played in Lo Celso to ensure that Tottenham would be among the seeded sides for the draw on Monday.
Alireza Beiranvand held out long-range attempts from Vinicius and Lo Celso, either side of Cristian Benavente’s angled shot being blocked by Davinson Sanchez.
Late in a balanced first half, visiting keeper Beiranvand was forced into action again as he closed the angle to deny Vinicius after Lucas Moura played the forward in.
But Sergio Reguilon’s half-time introduction of Steven Bergwijn and a move to four-man defense gave Tottenham more control, and they were soon in front.
Beiranvand forced Bale’s dipping free-kick from more than 30 yards out onto the post and Vinicius responded fastest to the loose ball.
Substitutes Son and Kane went close to doubling Tottenham’s count, but Lo Celso, who took Kane’s pass in his footsteps and calmly selected the bottom-left corner with an out-of-the-boot finish, was not to be denied.
That was the 27th goal this season for Tottenham that Kane was directly involved in – more than he scored in 34 games in 2019-20 – and he would have added another goal to his collection if he hadn’t slipped late while shooting.