A largely second string Tottenham Hotspur kept the pressure on Real Madrid at the top of Group H with a win against APOEL Nicosia at the GSP Stadium
No Cypriot side had ever beaten English competition going into this tie, and three strikes from Harry Kane was enough to ensure that it continues to remain so for the time being. Spurs however, did not have it as easy as the scoreline suggests, but that could be forgiven given their personnel.
The visitors had 6 first team players missing from their squad due to injuries and suspensions and this was really a good test depth in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad. Second string players like Harry winks and Moussa Sissoko were called up and they did not disappoint.
abit against the run of play, Harry Kane opened the scoring in the 39th minute, with a cool finish after being put through beautifully by Toby Alderweireld. Tottenham took the lead into the second half and the Englishman struck again in the 62nd minute.
This time he was found making a well timed run through the middle by Moussa Sissoko from the right flank. Kane made no mistake from 15 yards out and sent it into the bottom left corner. He would complete his hattrick only 5 minutes later with the easiest of headers, sealing the victory for Tottenham and maintaining their joint top position at the top of Group H with Real Madrid.
Hugo Lloris: 7
The Frenchman nearly gifted the hosts an own goal after smashing it away haphazardly, only to watch it rebound off an APOEL player and give Pochettino a mini scare. Found his stride in the second half and looked much more like his usual self, making some smart saves.
Kieran Trippier: 7
Played most of the match on the left flank before Serge Aurier was taken off, and put in a good shift in an unfamiliar position. Despite being forced to cut into his right foot on more than one occasion, he played a solid display on the left. Looked more relaxed on the right, and set up Kane for his third.
Toby Alderweireld: 7
His fantastic 40 yard through ball helped set up Harry Kane’s first of the night. It wasn’t the best of games for the Belgian, and it looked a bit unconvincing in the first half and nearly allowed the hosts to get on the scoresheet. However, he found his stride as the game progressed after Spurs moved to a back four.
Davison Sanchez: 7
Another good performance from the Colombian in a Spurs’ shirt. Looked composed throughout the game and was a strong presence in Pochettino’s 3 man defence. Made some good interceptions, was confident on the ball and in the air.
Ben Davies: 7
Like Kieran Trippier, the Welshman started the game at center-back before switching later on after Serge Aurier was subbed off. He made some good clearances and tried to contribute going forward. Didn’t seem too out-of-place at center-back, having experienced playing there for his national side. His versatility will help his cause over a long season.
Serge Aurier: 5
Beaten on more than one occassion down the right, he didn’t have the best of games, leading Pochettino to take him off on 57 minutes. The APOEL attack got the better of him far too many times for his manager’s liking. He put in one good cross, but nothing more of note. Will have better days.
Harry Winks: 7
A promising talent, but not quite Mousa Dembele just yet. Tried to get on the ball as much as possible and was the more energetic of the two central midfielders. Displayed his pace and physicality in glimpses and tried to be a constant nuisance to APOEL’s midfield and attack.
Eric Dier: 7
Alongside his fellow Englishman, he provided a good base for Spurs’ attack and was a calm and composed figure in the middle of the park for the visitors. The more laidback of the two central midfielders, he distributed the ball well and had a fairly decent game over all.
Heung-min Son: 6
A disappointing performance from the South Korean. Couldn’t make the most of his chances and seemed weak and wasteful in possession. Missed a glorious chance in the first half after Tripper’s cross found him 5 yards from goal, only for him to head it wide. Has had much better days in a Spurs shirt.
Moussa Sissoko: 7
The Frenchman built on his positive performance against West Ham and put in a positive shift against the Cypriots. It wasn’t the perfect performance, but he did set up Kane’s second goal. Also put in some decent defensive work and tried to involve himself as much as possible in Spurs’ attacks.
Didn’t seem to have the best understanding with Serge Aurier down the right, but nonetheless it was a job well done. He won’t be a regular in Pochettino’s starting XI after this, but this was a fine day at the office for the much maligned 28-year-old.
Harry Kane: 10
Harry Kane’s record for Spurs across all competitions in 2017:
30 games 🏃
34 goals ⚽️
6 hat-tricks 🎩
Not many better than that. pic.twitter.com/NKXwCkOBhF
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 26, 2017
A different class and Tottenham’s best player by some distance. It was the perfect hattrick, the first with his left foot, the second with his right and the final one with his head. The 24-year-old striker now has 7 goals and 1 assists in merely 5 Champions League appearances.
It is frightening to think what he could’ve done had Spurs had the likes of Eriksen and Dele Alli available to them on the night. He was faultless throughout and now the world will be waiting to see what kind of an impact he can make against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Fernando Llorente: 5
Brought on just under the hour mark for Serge Aurier, couldn’t do anything of note in the half hour that he was on the pitch. While he did manage to prise his markers away from Kane for the his second third goals, it wasn’t a great showing from the Spaniard and with his fellow striker scoring hat-tricks, it makes him look even worse.
Georges-Kevin N’Koudou: N/A
Brought on for Harry Kane with 15 minutes to go when the outcome game was sealed, likely to rest the Englishman and preserve his legs for Huddersfield. Could no nothing of note in that time.
Anthony Georgiou: N/A
The 20-year-old winger was brought on in the dying stages of the game in an attempt to run down the clock. Barely got a touch of the ball and 6 minutes is hardly enough time to make an impact. However, for someone who has had to struggle with numerous injuries for the past two seasons, getting a debut in the country of his grandparent’s birth should have been special.