Jamie O'Hara's early goal proved all Tottenham Hotspur FC needed for a victory at NEC Nijmegen that puts them in a strong position to go through from UEFA Cup Group D.
O'Hara pounced in the box after 14 minutes to send the two-time competition winners to the top of the group, level on six points with Udinese Calcio. Tottenham know a good result at home to FC Spartak Moskva on 18 December will take them through to their third straight knockout campaign. NEC, yet to earn a point, seek victory in Moscow 15 days before.
Tottenham, revived since Harry Redknapp's appointment as manager last month, kick-started their campaign three weeks ago with a 4-0 win against NK Dinamo Zagreb, who beat NEC in their only previous group game. They wasted little time on Thursday, breaking the deadlock when lively Gareth Bale was sent free on the left and although Fraizer Campbell turned the ball on to the underside of the bar, O'Hara was on hand to head in the rebound.
NEC were yet to threaten but Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes did have a save to make when Youssef El-Akchaoui found Mostapha El Kabir only to be denied by the former PSV Eindhoven player. Spurs swiftly broke and Bale crossed for Campbell, his header forcing a save from Gábor Babos.
The first half ended in a fairly tentative manner and Redknapp responded by moving David Bentley from a central position out to the right wing. And he soon made an impact, crossing for Darren Bent, whose header was well dealt with by Babos. However, opportunities were rare at either end, with Michael Dawson making a vital header to intercept a dangerous El Kabir cross and the same player also being denied a shooting chance by a tackle from Jonathan Woodgate.