A spectacular goal from Dele Alli helped Tottenham to a 4-0 win over Wolfsberger on Thursday that secured their place in the last 16 of the Europa League.
Alli scored a stunning bicycle kick in the first half before setting up Carlos Vinicius and substitute Gareth Bale in the second as Jose Mourinho’s side eased to an 8-1 aggregate victory.
Spurs’ third win in nine games in all competitions, capped by a second from Vinicius, was a routine but welcome one, particularly for Mourinho, who was able to rest stars including Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as he looks to put together a string of results and ease some of the speculation over his future.
Spurs have made something of a habit of starting well this season – in fact, no Premier League team can match their tally of 11 goals in the first 10 minutes of matches in all competitions – but they have rarely broken the deadlock with such a flourish.
Alli played the ball out wide to Matt Doherty, brought down his cross and sent a sublime overhead kick out of the reach of goalkeeper Manuel Kuttin and into the left-hand corner.
Vinicius should have made it 2-0 before the break after rounding Kuttin, but the covering Gustav Henriksson did superbly to clear the striker’s effort off the line.
He made no mistake early in the second half, though nodding in Alli’s deep cross shortly after Eric Dier had been fortunate to escape punishment for taking out Cheikhou Dieng when the forward was through on Joe Hart’s goal.
Spurs got their 100th Europa League goal 17 minutes from time, Bale sweeping an emphatic finish high into the net from Alli’s pass after Harry Winks had pressed Wolfsberger into giving the ball away in their own half.
Mourinho handed debuts to Marcel Lavinier and Nile John, while 16-year-old Dane Scarlett was given more first-team experience, the latter setting up Vinicius to blast home his second and Spurs’ fourth with seven minutes left.
What does it mean? Real work starts now for Mourinho
Defeat at this stage of the competition would have piled further pressure onto Mourinho, although their progress looked almost certain after that first-leg win.
As soon as Alli’s magical opening goal effectively killed off any lingering Wolfsberger hopes, Spurs’ focus will naturally have drifted towards a key few weeks in their season.
With games against Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace up next, this is the chance for Mourinho’s men to build some momentum before the north London derby on March 14.
Alli emulates Giroud to give Mourinho food for thought
Not willing to be outdone by a London rival, Alli followed Olivier Giroud’s overhead kick for Chelsea against Atletico Madrid with a quite superb version of his own to open the scoring.
It was his first goal since December and the only time he has scored in a game he started for the club since last March. Given he then assisted the next two goals, perhaps it could be a step on the road to redemption in the eyes of the man in charge.
Spurs cruise despite flat Dier
This was a game played mostly at a pedestrian pace, but Dier had one or two uneasy moments at the heart of the defence.
He was lucky not even to concede a foul for bringing down Dieng at 1-0 and lost Dejan Joveljic twice thereafter to give Wolfsberger some half-chances.