Arlos Vinicus did what he was signed for, scoring two goals and allowing Harry Kane and Heung-min Son the night off as Tottenham beat Ludogorets 4-0 in the Europa League.
The Brazilian first-half doubles came from two passes from Dele Alli and the Benfica loanee also set Lucas Moura up for a routine walk for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Harry Winks scored the hosts’ other goal with an unusual 45-yard hit in the top corner, which was certainly a rollover for Vinicus or Gareth Bale.
Spurs ended a feel-good night with four teenagers on the pitch in Jack Clarke and debutants Alfie Whiteman, Harvey White and Dane Scarlett, and their attention can now turn to Chelsea on Sunday.
After beating Manchester City 2-0 last weekend, Mourinho made 10 changes, with only Tanguy Ndombele keeping his place.
The manager had threatened not to change his Europa League squad after his fringe players failed to impress in a loss to Antwerp last month, but here they did exactly what was asked of them.
It’s hard to know if Vinicus will make as big an impact in the Premier League as he did in Portugal, where he was top scorer last season, but he’s clearly good enough for this stage.
More important than his portrayal, his presence enabled Mourinho, Kane and Son to keep fresh for Sunday’s six-pointer on Stamford Bridge.
Despite two days of rest, Spurs may be fresher than the Blues after Frank Lampard fielded a few first-team players while visiting France’s Rennes on Tuesday. Spurs benefit from a strong squad.
Vinicius’ first goal for the club was a well-hit result that should boost his confidence after a mixed start that saw him hooked along with three team-mates at halfway through the defeat in Belgium.
He added a second before break after Dele played selflessly. He scored after Ndombele’s shot, well saved by Ludogorets goalkeeper Plamen Iliev.
The Spurs’ intensity diminished after the break, but Winks brought the competition to bed with a spectacular long-range shot that was certainly meant to be a pass. The English midfielder’s amused reaction certainly indicated that it was a mistake and he confirmed it in his post-game interview.
Vincius, once again impressed with his hold-up game, set Lucas up for more good work from Dele, but 16-year-old Scarlett almost hit the headlines when he was running late.
It was difficult to get much out of the game as an exhausted Ludogorets posed no threat, but if nothing else it could prove meaningful to Dele.
The 23-year-old was thrilled at halftime from two of his three previous starts this season – and at the third hour – and hasn’t played since he was one of four players who were replaced by the 0-1 at break -Last month lost to Royal Antwerp.
Dele’s first assist was a godsend when his pass, destined for an offside ball, bounced off a defender into Vinicius’ path, which ended coolly.
There was nothing happy and much to admire about Dele’s second assistant. Ndombele’s low shot forced Iliev to make a good one-handed save, and Dele pounced on the loose ball and selflessly prevailed against Vincius.
Mourinho must have been satisfied because Dele survived the break and lasted until 81. Minute when he was replaced by white.
A real test of Mourinho’s feelings will be the matchday squad for Chelsea. Dele loves to play the blues, and a seat on the bench would signal a thaw of Mourinho’s feelings.
A routine evening was notable for a late triple substitution by Mourinho, including the introduction of Spurs’ youngest player in 16-year-old Scarlett, a promising striker who scored for fun in the U18s.
Goalkeeper Whiteman and midfielder White also played the final ten minutes in a feel-good game from Mourinho, who has often been accused of ignoring young players.
Scarlett missed twice in the last ten minutes. At this point, an exhausted Ludogorets was completely checked out, and White also made an attempt that narrowly missed.
Bleeding young players and telling the fans is an encouraging approach at this stage of the competition, and it can go on for a long time.
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Tottenham Hotspur F. . C.. . , José Mourinho, UEFA Europa League, Premier League, Chelsea F. . C.. . , PFC Ludogorets Razgrad
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