Harry Kane marked his first start of the season with a decisive brace as Tottenham overturned a 1-0 first-leg defeat with a 3-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira to secure a place in the inaugural Europa Conference League.
Kane has played only 18 minutes domestically in 2021-22 following a heavily interrupted pre-season that was dominated by uncertainty surrounding his future, but after seemingly accepting Spurs’ refusal to sell him, he was back in the starting XI and off the mark for the campaign.
The visitors’ aggregate lead stood for just nine minutes as the lively Bryan Gil capped his home debut with a fine assist to tee up Kane and the England striker doubled his tally just after the half-hour mark.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side subsequently produced a controlled and professional display after the interval, with a Vitorino Antunes own goal ultimately ending Pacos de Ferreira’s chances of a late turnaround.
It always looked destined to be a long evening for the away side and Spurs’ intensity inspired the opener, as Harry Winks won back possession and fed Bryan in behind the defence, his inch-perfect cut-back allowing Kane to level the aggregate score.
Bryan found Kane again in the 34th minute, the England captain seeing his initial shot charged down, but Giovani Lo Celso kept the threat alive and the rebound from his follow-up effort was tucked in by the alert Kane.
Spurs’ dominance continued into the second half, with Lo Celso seeing a curling free-kick go just wide, before Bryan blasted over from the middle of the area.
Andre Ferreira made a necessary save to thwart Lo Celso just past the hour, and then Bryan opted against teeing up Kane for his hat-trick when shooting agonisingly wide.
Spurs wrapped the win up 20 minutes from the end as Antunes deflected a Lo Celso free-kick into his own goal, and Kane was swiftly withdrawn to a rapturous ovation with qualification secured.
What does it mean? A soothing evening for Nuno as competent start continues
It is fair to say Nuno’s appointment at Spurs was not exactly greeted with great fanfare. After all, a whole host of coaches are said to have been considered or rejected the club before they turned to the Portuguese tactician, and then a defeat to Pacos in Portugal hardly helped matters.
Add to that the constant distraction of the Kane saga and it was the perfect recipe for chaos in the early weeks of the season, but having claimed six points from their first two league games and confidently overturned the first-leg deficit on Thursday, it is all looking rather rosy.
There was no hint of Kane sulking here either. Wearing the captain’s armband, he looked as focused and composed as ever, cracking a few smiles as he opened his account for the season.
He’s not the messiah – but Bryan looks the real deal
Spurs fans are yet to see the young Spain international in Premier League action, his only previous outing being the first leg of this tie very soon after he returned from the Olympic Games. Occupying a roaming role, Bryan looked bright and inventive between the lines, his positivity a real asset in getting Tottenham on the front foot. His assist was the least he deserved in what was an encouraging display.
Kane keeps his cool to calm the boo-boys
He got a mixed reception at the start when his name was read out, but two goals and a solid performance later, he was given a good ovation as he left the pitch. Fans will hope his flirting with City will not have any real impact on Kane’s form, and this was a nice way to ease himself back into the swing of things.
It is back to Premier League action on Sunday for Spurs as they host promoted Watford at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in their final game before the international break.
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