Spurs qualify for KO stages in unconvincing style

LASK 3 (Michorl 42, Eggestein 84, Karamoke 90+2)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (Bale pen 45+1, Son 56, Alli pen 86)

TOTTENHAM are through to the knockout stages of the Europa League after a disjointed performance in Austria left them level with Lask after 90 minutes, earning the point that means they have a straight shootout with Royal Antwerp next Thursday to decide which of them finishes top of Group J.

Jose Mourinho was without a handful of injured players, most notably Harry Kane, but it was no excuse for a below-par performance. Spurs scored penalties late in each half, either side of a goal from Heung Min Son, but conceded a stoppage time strike for an equaliser that Lask thoroughly deserved.

“The result was better than the performance. The second-half was better than the first, some players individually had very good performances, some players individually had very poor performances. The only positive thing was the result. We are qualified and still have a chance to top the group.”

Tottenham poor at the start and second best for the opening 45 minutes. The only surprise was that it took so long for Lask to open the scoring. Johannes Eggestein hit the woodwork and Joe Hart twice saved well from Rene Renner before Peter Michorl put Lask in front three minutes before half-time. A Matt Doherty slip let Lask mount a swift counter-attack and when Michorl received the a ball 35 yards from goal, he took one touch before firing a vicious, dipping shot that Hart might have stopped.

Spurs were shocked but given a lifeline within three minutes. Lucas Moura fired in a cross, Tanguy Ndombele hit the ball against the arm of Andres Andrade and referee Paweł Raczkowski pointed to the spot. Gareth Bale sent Alex the wrong way and Spurs were level with the last kick of the half.

It was tough on the Austrian keeper, who had not made a save up to that point. Tottenham looked toothless without Kane, as well as vulnerable in defence with regular pairing Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld rested.

Spurs improved after the break and Son put them ahead when he ran on to Ndombele’s pass and drilled a low shot into the far corner in the 54th minute.

Mourinho made a handful of substitutions in a bid to close out the game, but Lask equalised when Hart failed to keep out a long shot from Eggestein in the 84th minute, the ball going in off his arm. Moments later Spurs restored their lead through another penalty, when Steven Bergwijn was bundled over in the box. Dele Alli stepped up to put it away, but the scoring was not over, as Mamadou Karamoko scored a spectacular equaliser in stoppage time.

Tottenham are two points behind Antwerp, so the winner of next week’s game will top the group. “It is better to finish first than second, and I think we will be better in the knockout stages,” said Mourinho.

He added that he expects Kane to be fit to face Arsenal on Sunday, and on this evidence, Spurs will need their talisman at his best if they are to overcome their bitter north London rivals.


LASK 3-4-3 Schlager 6; Wiesinger 6, Holland 6, Andrade 6; Ranftl 7, Madsen 6, Michorl 6, Renner 7: Gruber 6 (Reiter 69), Eggestein 7, Goiginger 6 (Karamoko 69)

TOTTENHAM 4-1-2-3 Hart 5; Doherty 5, Sanchez 5, Tanganga 5, Davies 6; Hojbjerg 7; Lo Celso 6 (Dier 71), Ndombele 7; Bale 6 (Aurier 82), Lucas 6 (Sissoko 65), Son 7 (Alli 82)

Ref: Paweł Raczkowski (Poland)

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