Thursday , November 7 2019

Red Star 0-4 Tottenham: Son Heung-min double helps Spurs to win

Everyone had deserted the pitch when Mauricio Pochettino accompanied Son Heung-min on a long walk towards the Tottenham fans.

From behind the netting in one slim section of the Rajko Mitic Stadium, they belted out Son’s name into the Serbian night and he gave them a wave and placed the palms of his hands together to show his gratitude.

It has been a traumatic few days for the Korean striker, offered counselling by the club since he was unwittingly involved in the horrific injury suffered by Andre Gomes at Everton on Sunday. 

Christian Eriksen fires home the final goal of the evening for Tottenham during their comprehensive victory over Red Star 

Son Heung-min wheels away after scoring Tottenham's third of the evening on a comfortable night for Mauricio Pochettino

Son Heung-min wheels away after scoring Tottenham’s third of the evening on a comfortable night for Mauricio Pochettino 

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS 

RED STAR (4-2-3-1): Borjan 5; Gobeljic 5 (Jander 46mins, 5), Milunovic 5, Degenek 5, Rodic 5; Jovancic 5 (Canas 62, 5), Petrovic 5; Garcia 5 (Boakye 68, 5), Marin 5, Van la Parra 5; Pavkov 5. 

Subs not used: Popovic, Pankov, Vulic, Simic. 

Booked: Petrovic.

Manager: Vladan Milojevic 6.

TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga 7; Foyth 5, Sanchez 5, Dier 6, Rose 6.5; Sissoko 7, Ndombele 8; Lo Celso 7.5 (Skipp 86), Alli 6.5 (Eriksen 62, 6), Son 7.5 (Sessegnon 75, 6); Kane 6.5.

Subs not used: Vorm, Alderweireld, Davies, Moura.

Scorers: Lo Celso 34, Son 57, 61, Eriksen 85. 

Booked: Dier, Skipp. 

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 7. 

Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (Spa) 6. 

Attendance: 41,000.

He has appreciated the support he received and, as news filtered through from Merseyside ahead of this game that Gomes was on the mend after surgery, Son returned to what for him has become the normality of scoring goals.

It must have lifted his spirits after the red card and tears of Goodison Park as he struck twice inside four second-half minutes and ensured Tottenham secure a convincing victory over Red Star for the second time in a fortnight.

Not only was that wonderful smile back on Sonny’s face but there were other positives to take, including delight for Giovani Lo Celso who scored on his first Spurs start and offered a glimpse of what the future might hold.

Pochettino has been increasingly frustrated by his failure to inject fresh blood and rebuild his team but, here in Belgrade, three players in the final season of their Tottenham contracts were absent.

Jan Vertonghen was injured and Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen started on the bench as the new recruits made vital contributions.

Lo Celso, on loan from Real Betis with an option to make it permanent, was preferred to Eriksen, sparkled on the ball and hinted at more to come with an explosive change of pace and creative contributions going forward.

Tanguy Ndombele continued to improve with a powerful display in the heart of midfield. Ndombele played a vital role in the first two goals of the night. Ryan Sessegnon came on and created the fourth, which was scored by Eriksen with the help of a deflection.

The victory means Spurs will be certain of qualifying from Group B – and reaching the knock-out rounds of the Champions League for the third successive season – if they beat Olympiacos at home in their next fixture. 

Son fires home his first of the evening past Milan Borjan after a flowing team move from the visitors in Belgrade

Son fires home his first of the evening past Milan Borjan after a flowing team move from the visitors in Belgrade 

The South Korean appeared to use his celebration to issue a public apology for his tackle on Andre Gomes at the weekend

The South Korean appeared to use his celebration to issue a public apology for his tackle on Andre Gomes at the weekend 

Tottenham's No 7 makes a heart shape with his hands as he directs his celebration towards the visiting supporters

Tottenham’s No 7 makes a heart shape with his hands as he directs his celebration towards the visiting supporters 

They also departed the Serbia capital with spirits revived and a long, unwanted sequence over after winning away from home for the first time in six months; the first time since the epic semi-final at Ajax in April.

Tottenham have not been in fluent form but they made a composed start, moving the ball quickly and with incision.

Lo Celso impressed wide on the right where he was deployed in front of Juan Foyth, a fellow Argentina international, at right back, and there was a recall in central defence for Eric Dier.

For all their early control they did not carve open the Serbs as easily as they did in the 5-0 win in north London. Son pulled a low shot narrowly wide from an angle but they did not test goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Paolo Gazzaniga was required to keep Tottenham level midway through the first half. There was a slip in defence by Foyth, who had started the game sloppily. Milan Pavkov, who scored twice in a 2-0 win against Liverpool this time last year, forged clear but Gazzaniga was able to block his effort with a foot.

Spurs seized the initiative with an untidy goal in the 34th minute. Lo Celso won the ball in midfield and released Harry Kane. His first touch was heavy but he still managed to poke a shot under Borjan as the goalkeeper slid out at his feet.

Kane’s attempt thumped into the foot of a post but Spurs fought hard to keep the pressure on. An effort by Son was cleared off the line before Ndombele lifted a high cross towards Kane, who slammed a volley across the face of goal. 

Giovani Lo Celso watches as his stabbed effort finds the back of the net for Tottenham during the first half in Belgrade

Giovani Lo Celso watches as his stabbed effort finds the back of the net for Tottenham during the first half in Belgrade 

The Argentinian is buried underneath a swarm of team-mates looking to congratulate him after opening the scoring

The Argentinian is buried underneath a swarm of team-mates looking to congratulate him after opening the scoring

The goal came after a bizarre passage of play, where Tottenham hit the woodwork twice - first through captain Harry Kane

The goal came after a bizarre passage of play, where Tottenham hit the woodwork twice – first through captain Harry Kane

Son then managed to knee the ball on to the crossbar when positioned almost under the frame of the Red Star goal

Son then managed to knee the ball on to the crossbar when positioned almost under the frame of the Red Star goal 

Son turned the ball against the bar when he ought to have found the net but Lo Celso pounced on the rebound and brought the impromptu pinball session to a close by driving the ball into the net with his left boot.

Red Star responded before half time. Former Huddersfield winger Rajiv van La Parra wriggled free in the penalty area and slammed a shot into a post. Davinson Sanchez, sprinting back to recover, fired the rebound against his own bar.

It was a warning to Tottenham that there was still work to do.

A mistake in defence by Sanchez prompted another scare soon after the interval but Pavkov failed to punish him and then Son stepped forwards to take the initiative with two goals which took his tally to the season for eight. 

After the trauma of Sunday, Son checks on Nemanja Milunovic and apologises after a challenge during the second half

After the trauma of Sunday, Son checks on Nemanja Milunovic and apologises after a challenge during the second half

Spurs defender Juan Foyth challenges for the ball with Dutch midfielder Rajiv Van la Parra during the clash in Serbia

Spurs defender Juan Foyth challenges for the ball with Dutch midfielder Rajiv Van la Parra during the clash in Serbia

Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele tries to stay on his feet as he is put on pressure from Red Star's Njegos Petrovic

Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele tries to stay on his feet as he is put on pressure from Red Star’s Njegos Petrovic 

His first finished a move featuring Ndombele and Dele Alli with a crisp shot from an angle and his second was a close-range finish from a low cross by Danny Rose.

This established enough breathing space for Pochettino to relax and enjoy the closing stages. Eriksen came on and completed the scoring.

At last for the Spurs boss there is hope on the horizon and a place in the knock out rounds. For Son, closure on a stressful episode. Now to climb back up the Premier League. 

Red Star forward Milan Pavkov appeared devastated as he had to leave the field on a buggy with medical staff after the break

Red Star forward Milan Pavkov appeared devastated as he had to leave the field on a buggy with medical staff after the break 

Mauricio Pochettino applauds the away contingent of fans after an emphatic victory that puts Spurs' season back on track

Mauricio Pochettino applauds the away contingent of fans after an emphatic victory that puts Spurs’ season back on track

The two sets of players were met by a giant card display by the home supporters as they emerged before the game

The two sets of players were met by a giant card display by the home supporters as they emerged before the game