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Spurs squeeze past persistent Asteras

Asteras Tripolis FC 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur FC
First-half goals from Andros Townsend and Harry Kane earned Spurs victory, though they had to resist a late Asteras onslaught.

Tottenham goalscorers Andros Townsend and Harry Kane rejoice in Greece
Tottenham goalscorers Andros Townsend and Harry Kane rejoice in Greece ©AFP/Getty Images

Andros Townsend earns and converts a penalty to open scoring for Tottenham
Harry Kane heads in Townsend's cross six minutes later to make it 2-0
Jerónimo Barrales's late penalty for Asteras sets up a frantic finale.
Federico Fazio sent off for Spurs when conceding the spot kick
Next games: Asteras v Beşiktaş, Tottenham v Partizan (27 November)

Tottenham Hotspur FC edged past Asteras Tripolis FC 2-1 to take a significant step towards qualification from Group C.

Andros Townsend's 36th-minute penalty opener was merited given the visitors' early superiority, and when Harry Kane nodded in the second before the break, a four-point buffer on their third-placed opponents in the section appeared certain. Federico Fazio was sent off when conceding a last-minute penalty converted by Jerónimo Barrales, but the hosts could not complete a comeback.

For all of Tottenham's early dominance, they had to wait until the 22nd minute to test Tomás Kosický, with Erik Lamela's fierce drive unable to deceive the goalkeeper in the same manner as his rabona in Spurs' 5-1 win at White Hart Lane two weeks ago. Asteras were content to play on the counterattack and the tactic proved effective, with Pablo Mazza almost opening the scoring when his cross-shot bobbled wide of the far upright.

Mauricio Pochettino's men finally made the breakthrough when Khalifa Sankaré brought down Townsend as he burst into the area; the England midfielder swept the resulting penalty high past Kosický. Six minutes later, it was 2-0, Townsend turning provider this time by standing up a cross to the far post that Kane headed powerfully down past Kosický to add to his three-goal haul in the reverse fixture.

Staikos Vergetis rallied his charges at half-time and a more attacking outlook nearly reaped its reward within 60 seconds, Tasos Tsokanis skewing wide after galloping through. Facundo Parra then spurned two glorious chances to reduce the deficit, first fizzing an attempt wide after outmuscling Jan Vertonghen and then cutting inside Fazio before blazing over.

Mazza was equally threatening but more composed, demanding a save from Michel Vorm with a low drive and later hammering a dipping effort against the far upright as the hosts dictated. Asteras's lifeline then arrived in the final minute. Fazio was dismissed as he felled Barrales, and the substitute tucked in from the spot. The home side almost staged a dramatic escape, only for Ziguy Badibanga to head just wide in added time.