Tottenham Hotspur will go into the last-32 of the Europa League as one of the seeded teams following a 2-0 victory over Antwerp at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Vinicius bagged the opener, following up a stunning Gareth Bale free-kick to tap home into an empty net. And Giovani Lo Celso grabbed the second to cap an excellent individual display and secure Spurs' top spot in the group.
Both teams were already confirmed as the qualifiers from Group J prior to kick-off in north London, but the win was enough for Spurs to leapfrog the Belgian side into top spot.
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Jose Mourinho made nine changes to the starting line-up from the win over Arsenal on Sunday, with only Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso remaining in the starting XI, and the rustiness showed, with the 'Europa League' members of the squad struggling to click in a first-half that saw a handful of chances but little in the way of quality football.
The second half started in similar fashion despite the introduction of the lively Steven Bergwijn, but Spurs did get the opener when a sensational free-kick by Bale was tipped onto the post, setting up Vinicius with the simplest of finishes.
However, moments after the goal a clearly disgruntled Mourinho made a host of changes, with Bale, Vinicius and Harry Winks all making way for first-teamers Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Tanguy Ndombele. And the introduction of all that quality saw Spurs dominate the remainder of the game, camping themselves in the Antwerp half and creating a host of chances, one of which was classily tucked home by Lo Celso to make the game safe at 2-0.
The result means Spurs will avoid the seeded teams in the last-32, a group of clubs that includes the likes of Napoli, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Tottenham Hotspur's Carlos Vinicius and Royal Antwerp's Jeremy Gelin during the UEFA Europa League Group J stage
Image credit: Getty Images
Talking Point - Will Gareth Bale find his feet again at Spurs?
The answer still isn't clear after a rusty display from the Welshman that certainly didn't make a strong enough case for a regular starting berth in the league.
However, the quality of his free-kick that set up the opener will give Bale great confidence, and even if he just produces occasional moments of excellence like that it's a useful tool for Spurs to have.
You'd hope there's more left in Bale than just flickers of brilliance , but he'll need to take advantage of future playing time with greater conviction than he did this evening if he's to move himself up the pecking order.
Man of the Match
Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspur): The Argentine midfielder was the best player on the park in the first half, pulling the strings in the midfield two for Spurs and looking dangerous whenever he drifted into forward positions.
After the break he was even more impressive, excelling alongside Tanguy Ndombele and Moussa Sissoko in a midfield three following a change of shape from the hosts.
The question now is if he can retain his place in the starting line-up in the Premier League, which will likely mean either Ndombele or Sissoko missing out. It's a dilemma for Jose Mourinho, but a good one to have (as the cliche goes).
Tottenham: Hart 7, Doherty 7, Sanchez 6, Tanganga 7, Davies 7, Reguilon 7, Winks 6, Lo Celso 9, Lucas 8, Bale 7, Vinicius 6. Subs: Bergwijn 8, Ndombele 7, Kane 7, Son 7, Sissoko 6.
Antwerp: Beiranvand 8, Buta 6, Seck 5, Gelin 6, Batubinsika 6, Lukaku 6, Haroun 7, Hongla 6, Benson 7, Refaelov 6, Benavente 5. Subs: Ampomah 6, Boya 6, Juklerod 6. Miyoshi 6, Verstraete 6.
56' GOAL! - Gareth Bale goes for goal from miles out with the free-kick, but it's a beauty, dipping and swerving just on target. The keeper makes a brilliant save onto the woodwork, but Vinicius is the only player who followed in and has the simplest of tap-ins to open the scoring.
62' - Interestingly Harry Winks went straight down the tunnel when he was withdrawn for Tanguy Ndombele. Was he injured, or was that a sign of frustration at being withdrawn? If it's the latter then you would suspect it might be a while before Mourinho picks him again.
71' GOAL! - Spurs have an iron-like grip on this game now and it's Lo Celso who has the second, sliding a tidy shot past the onrushing keeper after being played in by Harry Kane (yet another assist for the centre-forward). 2-0 and game over?
- Harry Kane's assist for Lo Celso took his direct goal contributions up to 27 in 18 games this season (14 goals and 13 assists).
- Kane's tally of 27 combined goals and assists exceeds his total for the whole of last season (26 in 34 games).
- Vinicius has three goals and three assists from his trio of home matches in the Europa League this season.
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