Tottenham Hotspur are in complete control of their Europa League round-of-16 tie after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
Harry Kane, a surprise selection, grabbed a goal in each half to continue his excellent goalscoring form. The Englishman was in the right place at the right time to slot home into an empty net in the first half.
Spurs got the all-important second goal in the second half, and it was through their leading marksman once again as he capitalised on a mistake by the Dinamo Zagreb’s defence.
The Lilywhites had a host of chances to put the game to bed, but they will take a comfortable two-nil lead to Croatia next week with enough confidence of sealing their spot into the quarter-finals.
Story of the game
Mourinho made seven changes to the side that faced Crystal Palace on Sunday, including Gareth Bale being rested. More importantly, Kane and Heung-Min Son remained in the starting eleven despite having a heavyweight clash against their North London rivals Arsenal at the weekend.
Their inclusions could be seen as a message by the Portuguese boss to put the game to bed, especially with a congested schedule for the next few weeks. However, the visitors started brightly and called Hugo Lloris into early action after Tanguy Ndombele’s loose pass, but Mislav Orsic’s tame shot was easily picked up by the Frenchman.
Son, who hasn’t netted a goal in all competitions since Spurs's first-leg victory over Wolfsberger, created the hosts' first real opportunity as his dinked cross missed Dele Alli, but narrowly went wide of the far post. Kane got involved after just 10 minutes as his initial cross to Son was deflected just over the crossbar.
After an impressive start to opening 15 minutes by Dinamo Zagreb, Spurs started to pile the pressure, mainly through Serge Aurier on the right-hand side when his inviting cross was kicked away by Dominik Livakovic in an unorthodox fashion.
Spurs opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Erik Lamela dazzled his way into the box, with some terrific footwork, before an effort hit the post and rebounded to Kane to tap home.
The Croatian side started to drop back and sit behind the ball after their electric start, although they weren’t afraid to get forward when given the opportunity. Just at the half an hour mark, Bruno Petkovic tried to catch Lloris out with a long-range effort, but it was easily saved by the Spurs goalkeeper.
Spurs were fairly comfortable as the first half came to a close, with Son looking to link-up with Kane once again this season, but his in-swinging cross wasn’t attacked by Kane and fell into the arms of the keeper.
Mourinho’s men were quick out of the blocks in the second half and were appealing for a potential penalty after Ndombele was stopped in his tracks, but the VAR officials waved away any appeals. A deep cross by Son found Kane at the back post, who volleyed the ball back across goal but failed to find Dele.
Despite Spurs dominance on the ball, Dinamo could, and should, have tested Lloris and grabbed the equaliser when a low cross found Petkovic in acres of space, but he couldn’t hit the target with his left foot.
Spurs introduced three new players just after the hour mark as Bale, Lucas Moura, and Steven Bergwijn replaced Son, Lamela and Dele. Two of the substitutions were involved straight away as Bale picked out Bergwijn at the back post, but the Dutch international lacked conviction in his shot and was parried away by the keeper.
Mourinho’s side added the all-important second goal as Kane slotted home his second goal of the game and his seventh of the European campaign. Ndombele picked out Aurier with a delightful diagonal ball and Aurier’s cross was miskicked and fell to the feet of Kane, who took one touch and glided it home.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg entered the pitch shortly after, replacing Ndombele, as Spurs look to solidify the clean sheet. However, the visitors were knocking on the door and called Ben Davies into a superb clearance at the back post before Kane blocked a goal-bound header from the resulting corner.
Bale tested the keeper with a dipping free-kick before Kane gave way for Carlos Vinicius for the final five minutes. However, his two goals were enough to see Spurs get over the line and secure a comfortable two-nil victory ahead of travelling to Croatia next week.
Man of the Match – Harry Kane
Who else? The England captain was a surprise inclusion by Mourinho, but he was untouchable once again at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. He opened the scoring, showing hunger to feed on any rebounds, and continued to pick out Son in the channels.
His second goal showed real class, including a bit of composure and calmness to rifle the ball past the keeper. Not only was Kane influential as the focal striker, but he was also spraying passes left, right and centre, adding further evidence of being one of the best all-round footballers in the world.