First Spurs goal for Fernando Llorente a hopeful sign in UCL group finale

First Spurs goal for Fernando Llorente a hopeful sign in UCL group finale
From ESPN - December 7, 2017

Spurs cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory against strugglers Apoel in their final Champions League qualifying game. With Tottenham having already guaranteed themselves a top-place finish in the group, manager Mauricio Pochettino made wholesale changes to his starting XI. Fernando Llorente opened the scoring with his first goal for the club, and Son Heung-Min doubled the lead before the interval. Spurs were thereafter in cruise control, and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou added a third shortly before the end.


If the main plus for Pochettino was the luxury of being able to rest some key players, the manager will also be delighted that Llorente finally opened his account with a cool finish that belied his lack of confidence. Spurs have often looked short of a backup striker, and the club will be hoping this goal sets Llorente up for the rest of the season. Nkoudou is a more peripheral player, but it was also good to see him score his first goal for the club.


Though Spurs have missed his pace down the left flank, it looks as though Danny Rose's days at the club might be numbered. Whatever conciliatory noises Pochettino might have made about Rose over the past couple of months, it now seems clear the left-back has not been forgiven. By choosing to play Rose, the manager was sending a clear message that he considers him to be second string to Ben Davies. Rose clearly got the hint and appeared to be sulking for much of the match. An attitude that will have done nothing to improve relations with Pochettino.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- A win-win for the Pochettino. He could afford the luxury of sending out a second-string XI with no downside if they underperformed. In the event, his team and tactics were more than good enough to see off a poor Apoel team. Now the manager needs to take the momentum of a comfortable victory into their Premier League form against Stoke on Saturday.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Michel Vorm, 7 -- A bystander for long periods of the game as Apoel rarely tested the Spurs defence. Was confident in his handling and distribution and will be pleased both with the game time and the clean sheet.

DF Serge Aurier, 7 -- A constant threat down the right flank and delivered a pinpoint cross for Llorente's opener. Showed few signs of the inconsistencies that have dogged many of his appearances and was a largely reassuring presence.

DF Juan Foyth, 7 -- Not the most demanding night he will ever have, but did most of what was expected of him with poise and precision. It still remains to be seen how he will cope when tested by players of greater ability.

DF Davinson Sanchez, 7 -- Only playing because he had been sent off against Watford at the weekend and thus sidelined for the next three Premier League games, Sanchez showed great character and was one of Spurs' best players on the night. Controlled in defence and came close to scoring with a header.


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