Soldado Shines; Spurs Sweep Group K
By Football News
Roberto Soldado netted his first Tottenham hat-trick in a 4-1 demolition of Anzhi Makhachkala in their final UEFA Europa League group game.
With top spot in Group K already secured and both sides safely through to the last 32, Tottenham advanced to the knockout stages by delivering a clear statement of intent in this much-derided competition, courtesy of a treble from the club's close-season signing from Valencia and a brilliant Lewis Holtby strike.
Soldado ended an eight-game goal drought in emphatic fashion as his first-half brace – the first time he has scored since the 1-0 Premier League win over Hull City at the end of October – put the hosts 2-0 up inside 16 minutes at White Hart Lane on Thursday.
Ewerton halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time for Anzhi before Holtby's fine goal early in the second half.
A third of the evening from Soldado then arrived from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining as Tottenham made it six group wins from six.
It was some way for Soldado to mark his return to the Tottenham side, while Anzhi opted to name just five of a permitted seven substitutes, possibly as a result of the cost-cutting measures that have seen the likes of Samuel Eto'o depart.
And, within 16 minutes, Soldado had fully justified his recall with a quickfire double.
The Spain international striker first applied a glancing header to Gylfi Sigurdsson's seventh-minute free-kick from a narrow angle that was awarded after Abdul Razak had upended Andros Townsend on the edge of the penalty area.
Tottenham doubled their lead shortly afterwards thanks to excellent link-up between Erik Lamela and Soldado, before Soldado timed his run to perfection to drag a shot across Evgeni Pomazan.
Townsend spurned a decent opportunity to add a third five minutes before half-time. Sigurdsson's raking pass gave the England international a clear sight of goal, but he was left to rue a heavy touch as he snatched at his chipped shot that drifted wide.
It initially proved a costly miss as Anzhi went down the other end and pulled one back.
Brad Friedel turned Jucilei's header over the crossbar and Ewerton stuck out a boot to prod home from close range after the resulting corner bounced along the six-yard box.
A moment of magic from Holtby, though, restored Tottenham's two-goal lead 10 minutes into the second half.
Townsend worked his way inside from the Tottenham right and dinked a delicate chip over two defenders to allow Holtby to tee the ball up with the inside of his left foot before volleying it with the outside of the same boot past the goalkeeper.
Soldado was then handed the perfect opportunity to walk away with the matchball from the penalty spot after substitute Ryan Fredericks was adjudged to have been clipped by Jucilei.
In truth, it was a harsh decision, but that mattered little as Soldado duly dispatched the spot-kick and Tottenham head into the round of 32 as the team to beat.