Tottenham took one step closer to the Europa League quarter-finals as Harry Kane’s double secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night.
Kane’s predatory finish put the hosts in front (25) before the striker pounced on a slack clearance from Kevin Theophile-Catherine to double his tally for the evening (70).
There would be no second European hat-trick of the season for the England captain, who was replaced late on as a precautionary measure following a challenge from Arijan Ademi.
The result puts Tottenham in a strong position ahead of the last 16 second leg on March 18 as Jose Mourinho’s side now turn their focus towards facing Arsenal in the North London derby, live on Sky Sports, on Sunday.
Tottenham: Lloris (6), Aurier (7), Dier (6), Sanchez (6), Davies (7), Sissoko (7), Ndombele (8), Lamela (7), Alli (7), Son (7), Kane (8).
Subs: Hojbjerg (6), Bale (6), Bergwijn (6), Lucas Moura (6), Vinicius (n/a).
Dinamo Zagreb: Livakovic (6), Ristovski (5), Lauritsen (5), Theophile-Catherine (5), Leovac (6), Majer (5), Jakic (6), Ademi (5), Ivanusec (6), Petkovic (5), Orsic (5).
Subs: Gavranovic (n/a), Kastrati (6), Franjic (n/a), Atiemwen (n/a).
Man of the match: Harry Kane.
Five wins in a row… Arsenal next for Spurs
Tottenham had met the Croatian outfit only once before in European competition, with Spurs beating Dinamo 4-0 at home during the group stages of the UEFA Cup in the 2008/09 season, in which Darren Bent netted a hat-trick.
On Thursday, there was another exhibition from the man leading Tottenham’s frontline as Kane notched up his 25th goal of the season during the opening period of his side’s 45th game of a hectic season.
Dinamo arrived in North London boasting an eight-match winning streak, but after Mislav Orsic tested Hugo Lloris inside the first minute, it was one-way traffic towards the visitors’ goal.
Zoran Mamic’s side nearly fell behind in fortuitous circumstances for Spurs after 10 minutes as Kane’s cross seeking Heung-Min Son at the far post took a wicked deflection off Theophile-Catherine and flew just over Dominik Livakovic’s crossbar.
The hosts began to dominate possession, and it wasn’t long before Kane was celebrating another Europa League goal after 25 minutes. Dele Alli pounced on a loose ball before Ben Davies found Erik Lamela, who embarked on a slaloming run towards the Zagreb penalty area.
A nice shimmy from the Argentine lost Theophile-Catherine but his shot with the outside of the boot clipped the foot of the post. The ball fell kindly for the predatory Kane, however, who made no mistake from close range.
Zagreb had threatened sporadically in the first half, with Luka Ivanusec setting up Bruno Petkovic for a tame effort, but Mourinho sent his team are sharply upon the restart in search of a second goal.
Spurs team news
Mourinho promised changes and he made seven to his starting XI. Hojbjerg, Moura, Bale, Winks, Alderweireld, Doherty and Reguilon dropped out following the 4-1 weekend win against Crystal Palace. Davies started at left-back, Aurier at right-back, Dier at centre-back, while Sissoko was selected alongside Ndombele. Dele Alli and Erik Lamela supported Son and Kane.
Tanguy Ndombele felt he ought to have been awarded a penalty when he went down inside the box under a challenge from Lovro Majer but the Dutch official Serdar Gozubuyuk was unmoved, much to the chagrin of Mourinho.
The Tottenham head coach prepared a triple change as Petkovic fired wide from the angle, as Gareth Bale, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura entered the fray, and it almost paid instant dividends as Bale set up Bergwijn at the far post but his low volley was parried by Livakovic.
But Spurs would find the cushion of a second goal through a familiar source. Ndombele, who was lively throughout, found Aurier with a raking pass and after his cross was diverted by Theophile-Catherine into the path of Kane, the outcome was inevitable, his shot driven low beyond Livakovic.
In truth, it was a rare moment of quality during a scrappy second period in which Kane was withdrawn following a challenge by Zagreb’s captain Ademi. Ice was applied on the striker’s knee with Arsenal in mind, while substitute Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg collected a booking which means he will miss the second leg through suspension.
Bale was denied a simple third at the far post from Bergwijn’s cross in the dying embers, while Carlos Vinicius still had time to shoot tamely into Livakovic’s gloves, but Spurs settled for two.
Man of the match – Harry Kane
Kane enjoyed another profitable night, as he has so often done so in the Europa League this season. Up to eight goals already the competition, the 27-year-old is quite simply a Champions League player feeding at a lower level.
Kane has now scored 26 goals for Spurs this season, already surpassing his goal tally from each of his previous two seasons (24 in both 2019-20 and 2018-19).
Zagreb were unable to cope with his movement, well placed for both of his goals here, anticipating where the ball would drop. Sensing another hat-trick, his importance to this Spurs team was underlined by how swiftly Mourinho beckoned Vinicius to take his place at the first sign of a knock.
Lloris: It is just half-time, job not done
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, speaking to BT Sport: “Clean sheet is a satisfaction. It is good for us. 2-0 is a good result. We could have scored one more but we are happy. We know how it will be there. It is not done, just half-time.
“He is just enjoying his football. As we can see he attracts the ball. Lamela made an amazing job for the first goal and Harry was there at the right time to score. His second gives some relief to the team before the second leg.
“We had some ups and downs in the season but we come into an important period now and it is good to feel the players are ready to help the team. If we work well as a team we will give our talent more power to make the difference.”
- Spurs have progressed from each of their previous three knockout ties in the UEFA Europa League when they’ve won the first leg – versus Lyon and Internazionale in 2012-13, and RZ Pellets WAC earlier this season.
- Dinamo Zagreb remain winless away to English opponents in European competition (D2 L7), with each of their last six trips ending in defeat.
- Spurs have won each of their last five games in all competitions, equalling their longest winning streak under manager José Mourinho (five – previously done in November 2020).
- Including qualifiers, Dinamo Zagreb suffered their first loss in European competition since September 2020 (1-2 v Ferencváros), ending a run of nine games unbeaten and six consecutive wins coming into tonight’s defeat.
Tottenham travel to face Arsenal in the North London derby on Sunday, live on Sky Sports PL and Sky Sports Main Event; coverage starts at 4pm with kick-off at 4.30pm. Dinamo Zagreb visit Varazdin in the Prva HNL on Sunday at 2pm.
The second leg of this last 16 tie will be on Thursday March 18 at 5.55pm.