Tottenham moved top of Group J in the Europa League courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Anderlecht, in-form Mousa Dembele scoring the winner in stunning fashion three minutes from time.
After Imoh Ezekiel had cancelled out Harry Kane’s first-half opener, Anderlecht appeared on course for a deserved point at White Hart Lane before a powerful Dembele strike from the edge of the area ensured a vital victory for Tottenham.
Monaco’s draw with Qarabag earlier on Thursday ensured a tight group remained firmly in the balance prior to Kane’s opener against the run of play 28 minutes in, although Spurs appeared sluggish just three days after their Premier League victory over Aston Villa.
And Mauricio Pochettino’s men were punished when Jan Vertonghen failed to clear an inswinging cross from the left, seemingly unaware of Ezekiel’s presence, allowing the substitute to finish past Hugo Lloris.
With momentum firmly behind Anderlecht, Spurs feared a repeat of their 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture. However, Belgium international Dembele had the final say as he scored for the third match running with an impressive effort to put the hosts in control of their group with two games left.
Anderlecht were the more dangerous early on in north London, Belgian defender Vertonghen twice required to thwart Stefano Okaka inside the first five minutes.
Steven Defour and highly rated playmaker Youri Tielemans both went close soon after – the hosts gradually finding their feet before the half-hour mark albeit while struggling to click in the final third until Erik Lamela jinked in from the left and prodded an effort wide.
The Argentinean’s endeavour sparked Spurs into life as Kane gave his side the lead soon after with a superb finish from the edge of the area.
Christian Eriksen was the main architect as he found the England striker, who fired past Silvio Proto and into the far corner to continue his resurgence in front of goal.
Dele Alli had penalty appeals turned down following a challenge from Guillaume Gillet as Spurs closed the half strongly.
However, Lloris was busy early in the second half, keeping out efforts from Defour and Tielemans as Anderlecht went in search of a way back into the game.
Fit-again Son Heung-min was introduced following his recovery from a foot injury prior to Ben Davies striking the crossbar, but Anderlecht eventually gained a deserved equaliser.
Ezekiel lost his marker and, when Vertonghen failed to deal with the delivery, the Anderlecht forward slotted home and looked to have gained his side a point, only for Dembele to continue his goalscoring streak.
Son rolled the ball into the substitute’s path, with Dembele unleashing a powerful strike past Proto that could prove crucial in ensuring a last-32 spot, sending Spurs into Sunday’s north London derby with Arsenal off the back of a win.
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