• Europa League

Tottenham & Swansea into Europa League group phase

ESPN staff
August 29, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Jermain Defoe gave Tottenham the lead © PA Photos
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Tottenham's second string gave manager Andre Villas-Boas plenty to ponder ahead of this weekend's derby against Arsenal as they put in an impressive performance to beat Dinamo Tbilisi 3-0 to reach the Europa League group stage.

With £60 million worth of new signings added to this squad this summer, and at least another three players on their way in, there has been little talk of the importance of the likes of Jermain Defoe and Lewis Holtby to the new-look Tottenham so far this season.

Yet the duo gave their manager a timely reminder of their talent, even though Dinamo were very poor opposition, as Spurs completed an 8-0 aggregate win.

Defoe, making his first start of the season, fired a peach of a left foot strike past Giorgi Loria to open the scoring after 40 minutes and the England striker doubled his tally in first-half injury time with an easy tap-in.

The brace moved the 30-year-old up to sixth in Spurs' all-time top scorers list and he will now be keen to press Roberto Soldado hard in training over the next few days in the hope that he gets the nod to start against Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.

The spotlight was taken away from Defoe slightly towards the end of the second half thanks to Holtby, who opened his Tottenham scoring account in style with a powerful 20-yard strike that flew in off the underside of the bar.

Chairman Daniel Levy was at White Hart Lane to watch the game while behind the scenes Tottenham were putting the final touches to the transfers of Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches.

The triple transfer is likely to trigger Gareth Bale's world-record move to Real Madrid.

Swansea suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat in Romania but still advanced to the group stages of the Europa League at the expense of Petrolul Ploiesti.

The Welsh club had held a 5-1 lead after their handsome win in the first leg of this play-off tie last week.

The hosts never looked capable of turning the contest on its head but they did take the lead on the night through Njongo Priso's 73rd minute strike.

Substitute Roland Lamah responded instantly, but Hamza Younes headed home the winner for the hosts before Swansea captain Leon Britton was sent off late on.

Michael Laudrup's side can at least look forward to at least another six games in their European adventure, and they will find out their opponents when the group stage draw is made on Friday.

But the Dane will have been concerned with several aspects of this sluggish performance.

As with the previous round against Malmo, Swansea were nowhere near as effective as they had been on home soil, and it is an issue that will need to be rectified if they are to advance beyond the group stage.

After labouring for much of the game, Swansea fell behind on the night with 17 minutes to play. The Swans' back four attempted to play Priso offside, but Angel Rangel kept the Cameroonian onside and he easily beat Gerhard Tremmel.

Swansea hit back just a minute later. Alejandro Pozuelo found Lamah unmarked and in acres of space, and the winger finished superbly to claim his first goal for the club.

But Hamza then glanced home a header to restore the lead and Swansea ended the game with 10 men as Britton was shown a second yellow card in the dying minutes which means the midfielder will miss their next game in the competition.

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