Under the glorious yet nippy North London sun, Tottenham Hotspur picked up their third straight victory at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as they effortlessly dispatched Huddersfield Town, thanks largely to Lucas Moura who notched three of his side's four goals.
The Terriers, already relegated, defended well in the opening stages but were dealt fatal blows by quick-fire goals from Victor Wanyama and Lucas. They worked a number of good chances to claw themselves back into the game, but paid for their waste as Lucas rounded off his hat-trick with two late strikes.
Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs now leap temporarily to third in the table, while Huddersfield remain rooted at the foot of the standings.
Story of the game
Foreseeably enough, Tottenham started the brighter of the two sides in front of the magnificence of their new stadium. Fernando Llorente — deputising for the injured Harry Kane — held the ball up and laid it off for Lucas who darted towards goal. The Brazilian looked to shoot but was felled by Johnathan Hogg on the edge of the area, and Christian Eriksen could only strike the wall with the resultant free-kick.
Spurs continued their early pressure as Jan Vertonghen ventured upfield and tussled with Juninho Bacuna in Huddersfield's defensive corner. The Belgian sidestepped his opponent to make space for a cross which Ben Hamer attempted to claim but the goalkeeper was distracted by the physical presence of Llorente; the Englishman was able to gratefully gather the ball after it escaped his grasp.
The Terriers defended resiliently and often forced Spurs into taking ambitious shots from distance. One such effort came from Wanyama, who received the ball roughly 30 yards out and took touches to steady himself before unleashing a fierce drive at goal, but it lashed low and wide of the far post.
Two minutes later, Ben Davies worked his way down the left flank and lofted the ball to the back post where his opposite full-back, the young Kyle Walker-Peters, was lurking. The 22-year old headed back across goal for Llorente but the Spaniard couldn't make contact to guide the ball home.
After a substantial period of domination but few chances from the home side, the breakthrough finally arrived in the 24th minute. Davies fed Llorente on the edge of the box who attempted to hold the play up but miss-controlled the ball. Fortunately for Spurs, Wanyama continued his bombarding run into the box and evaded the tackle of Christopher Schindler before skipping past the onrushing Hamer and caressing the ball into the open net.
Tottenham quickly doubled their advantage. Juan Foyth regained possession in the full-back position and laid the ball off to Moussa Sissokho who picked his head up and drove at the Huddersfield back line. The Frenchman played a through-ball for Lucas, one-on-one with Hamer, and the pacy forward finished emphatically.
Almost immediately, Huddersfield fashioned a golden chance to halve the deficit. A whipped corner from Bacuna landed perfectly for Jon Gorenc Stanković who attempted to guide the ball home with his left foot, but the effort was somehow directed off target. A real let-off for Spurs, who defended the set-piece poorly.
Some might say that Stanković went from zero to hero in the 36th minute. An outrageous flick from Lucas gave Llorente a glaring opportunity to score but the striker initially failed to bring the ball down. The Slovenian valiantly blocked the eventual shot and the Terriers were able to clear.
The final chance of the half again fell to Llorente, ever-involved in the opening period. Eriksen delivered a free-kick from the wide-right position and the 34-year old rose highest before guiding the ball agonisingly wide of the post. It would have been some header had it come off.
Llorente was granted another chance shortly after the restart, and was once again unlucky to see his shot evade the goalmouth. Foyth clipped the ball in behind the Huddersfield defence and the Spaniard controlled immaculately before volleying at goal without letting the ball drop, but the spectacular effort thundered off the crossbar.
Spurs were clearly eager to extend their lead, and intricate link-up play from Eriksen and Llorente released Davies but the Welshman's effort was dragged far wide of the goal. Lucas took matters into his own hands in the 64th minute, receiving the ball on the edge of the attacking third before gliding goalwards, but his tame shot proved an easy save for Hamer.
With less than a quarter of proceedings remaining, Karlan Grant squandered a golden chance for his side before Spurs counter-attacked rapidly. Eriksen supplied Llorente with just Hamer to beat, but the striker caught the ball underneath his stride and the Terriers' defence had time to recover and thwart the threat to goal.
Truth be told, Huddersfield were fortunate to still be merely in the running for a result, but they worked a number of good opportunities to reduce the deficit. Hogg lifted a ball into the substitute Steve Mounié who attempted to lob Hugo Lloris with a header, but the ball dropped just wide of the World Cup winner's goal.
Grant, who, to his credit, looked dangerous all afternoon, bombed down the left flank and cut onto his stronger right foot, but his hopeful effort landed nowhere near the goal. One effort which did trouble Lloris was a free-kick from Bacuna in the 80 minute — the ball curled towards the top corner and the Frenchman was forced to scramble across the goalmouth to tip the ball onto the bar.
Spurs then counter-attacked and eventually worked the ball into the path of Eriksen whose shot was blocked well by Elias Kachunga. An awkwardly-bouncing ball rebounded off the post before Huddersfield were able to clear. It seemed as if the home side would never find that elusive third goal.
However, it finally arrived with just three minutes of regulation time left to play. Eriksen was released down the right flank and crossed for Lucas on the edge of the box. The Brazilian set himself up well with the initial touch before swinging his right foot at the ball, leaving Hamer stranded.
Rounding off a superb attacking performance, Lucas completed his hat-trick in the final minute of stoppage time. Substitute Heung-min Son sprinted towards the Huddersfield box before feeding Lucas, and a deft finish was the icing on the cake of an enjoyable afternoon for Pochettino and Spurs.
Takeaways from the match
Lucas shines brightest for Spurs
It was a starting 11 lacking the likes of Kane, Son and Dele Alli but Tottenham looked no less potent in attack, owing consdierably to the goalscoring marvel of Lucas.
The 26-year old took all three of his goals exceptionally well to notch his first-ever hat-trick in European football and, aside from direct contributions to the score of the game, he was a constant thorn for the Huddersfield defence, terrified by his ceaseless energy and pure speed.
Lucas has surely done all within his power in pursuit of a starting spot in the Champions League quarter-final at Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Effort unable to compensate for Huddersfield's shortcomings
It's been the sad story of their entire season — endeavour and application from the Terriers can scarcely be questioned, but ability certainly can.
They defended resiliently until Wanyama's opener but, when Lucas added the second, the game looked to be heading for a cricket score. However, Huddersfield regrouped and kept the score respectable until, once again, they were undone by two quick-fire moments of pure skill from their hosts, a plain on which they simply couldn't compete.
The task at hand for Jan Siewert and those high in the Huddersfield hierarchy is now preparation for the upcoming campaign in the Championship.
Tottenham now turn their attentions to the hugely important second leg of the Champions League quarter-final in Manchester, where they will hope to preserve a one-goal advantage.
Meanwhile, Huddersfield host FA Cup finalists Watford next Saturday.