Spurs finish group stage with routine win

Fernando Llorente scored his first goal since joining from Swansea City as Tottenham Hotspur eased past Cypriot champion APOEL.

beIN SPORTS MATCH CENTRE: Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 APOEL

REACTION: Pochettino relishing last 16 challenge

Fernando Llorente scored his first goal for Tottenham Hotspur as it ended its UEFA Champions League Group H campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over APOEL at Wembley.

The Spaniard joined Mauricio Pochettino’s side at the end of August but has struggled in the shadow of Harry Kane this season and has largely been limited to substitute appearances.

Kane was rested for the visit of the Cypriot champion, and Llorente excelled in his absence, scoring a wonderful first midway through the opening period before turning provider for Son Heung-min’s superb goal in the 37th minute.

The hosts eased off in the second half and rarely threatened, but Georges-Kevin N'Koudou added a deserved gloss to the scoreline in the 80th minute with a deflected effort. 

Tottenham has struggled in recent weeks, winning just one of its past five games prior to this win, but it never looked in danger of failing to take three points in a game it dominated from start to finish.

The victory sees Spurs finish top of Group H with five wins and a draw from their six games and now face an anxious wait until Monday, when they find out who they will face in the Round of 16.

Pochettino made eight changes from the weekend draw with Watford and handed a first start of the season to Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.

His new-look side did not take long to settle into their stride, however, and nearly scored twice in the opening three minutes as Serge Aurier and Son both flashed shots just wide of Nauzet Perez’s goal.

An almighty goalmouth scramble soon followed that somehow failed to result in a Tottenham opener. Llorente’s initial header was eventually bundled into the path of N'Koudou, whose point-blank effort cannoned off Jesus Rueda’s head on the line before Davinson Sanchez conspired to head wide from Llorente's clipped cross.

Llorente then opened his Tottenham account in the 20th minute as he controlled Aurier’s incisive cross, swivelled and then finished past Perez in one almost-balletic movement.

Spurs' first-half dominance was rewarded with a second eight minutes before the interval. Son's pass to Llorente on the edge of the penalty area was cushioned back into his path and the Korean whipped a fierce effort into Perez's right-hand corner for his second goal in two games.  

APOEL, which had offered almost nothing in the way of attacking threat in the opening period, started brightly after the break and almost reduced the deficit when Praxitelis Vouros's drive was deflected just wide by Danny Rose. 

Tottenham’s comfortable evening nearly suffered an unnecessary setback midway through the second half when Aurier raked his studs down Efstathios Aloneftis’ ankle. Referee Slavko Vincic deemed the challenge to be worthy of just a yellow card, though, much to the relief of the Ivorian. 

It was a largely uninspiring second-half performance by Tottenham, but it did grab a third with 10 minutes remaining as N’Koudou picked up Dele Alli's pass and sent a heavily deflected effort past the helpless Perez for his first goal for the club.