It has taken a while – 17 appearances to be precise – but Fernando Llorente is up and running as a Tottenham Hotspur goalscorer. The summer signing from Swansea City has been used mainly as a substitute by Mauricio Pochettino but, given a starting opportunity in what was a dead Champions League rubber, he responded with a decent all-round performance and he crowned it with his first goal in the club’s colours.
Given Spurs’ recent stutters – they have won only once in five Premier League matches – it was an opportunity for them to find a bit of momentum and Llorente did so, on a personal level. Son Heung-min did likewise. The winger added Tottenham’s second goal with a curling shot from the edge of the area and he vied with Llorente for the man-of-the-match honours.
Llorente was not the only player to open his account for the club. Pochettino had made wholesale changes to his lineup, with first place in Group H assured, and it was an important night for the winger George-Kévin Nkoudou.
It was Nkoudou’s full Champions League debut and his 22nd appearance for Tottenham. Like Llorente, the vast majority have come as a substitute. He tried to be positive from the first whistle and, if his moves did not always come off, he got his reward towards the end. He jinked away from the Apoel captain, Nuno Morais, cut inside and, when he shot, the ball deflected and flew into the net.
Llorente has shown flashes of his quality, most notably in the 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Bernabéu, but everybody knew he needed a goal. Pochettino admitted the Spaniard had http://www.officialauthenticdolphinsstore.com/Nike-Ryan-Tannehill-Jersey.html been “very nervous” about his drought. He showed only dead-eyed instincts when his big chance came.
Llorente still had plenty to do when Serge Aurier drove over a hard, low cross in the 20th minute, http://www.patriotsofficialsprostore.com/Brandin-Cooks-Jersey following Harry Winks’s crossfield pass, but he killed the ball with a lovely right-footed touch and, in the same movement, spun to set up a sweeping left-foot finish. Having done the hard part, he was never going to miss.
Llorente might have opened the scoring earlier, following a Winks free-kick. He rose unmarked to extend Nauzet Pérez in the Apoel goal and that was not the end of the Tottenham threat. Davinson Sánchez had a stab at the loose ball before it broke for Nkoudou. He guided it goalwards only to see Jesús Rueda clear from on the line with an instinctive header. When Llorente recycled the move, Sánchez nodded wide.
Spurs dominated the first half, with Son a menace in a roaming role off the flank. There was control to their passing and the second goal felt like a matter of time. Son got it after he played a give-and-go with Llorente. His first-time shot into the far corner was marked by precision technique.
The crowd of 42,679 Authentic Bryan Witzmann Jersey saw a more proactive performance from Apoel in the second half, after they switched to 3-4-3, and Praxitelis Vouros fizzed a deflected shot past the far post. There were theatrical moments from the visitors and the tie also took in flashes of needle.
Aurier stamped in on Stathis Aloneftis and Authentic Mitch Unrein Jersey was booked, while Danny Rose clashed with the substitute, Roland Sallai. Both were cautioned and Rose needed stitches in what Pochettino described as a “massive cut” above his eye. Rose was forced off. He would later re-emerge to watch Doug Gilmour Womens Jersey the closing stages from the bench.
Llorente had air-kicked when gloriously placed on 58 minutes and Aurier worked Perez on the follow-up but it was Nkoudou who gave the scoreline its gloss. “We are going to try to go as far as we can in this competition,” Pochettino said. “In football, you can always dream.”