Tottenham's UEFA Europa League specialist Erik Lamela was at it again against Qarabağ and he tells UEFA.com: "It's a special competition, to show your capabilities in Europe."
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If it is White Hart Lane under the lights and it is Thursday night, it must be time for Erik Lamela.
Nearly a year on from his memorable 'rabona' goal against Asteras Tripolis, the Argentinian helped Tottenham Hotspur to a hard-fought 3-1 win against Qarabağ in their UEFA Europa League Group J opener.
Lamela's typically classy finish, a delicious delayed dink over visiting goalkeeper Ibrahim Šehić after racing on to substitute Harry Kane's beautifully-weighted pass, seemed like an apt denouement to a highly entertaining evening.
The Tottenham ethos is never far from the mind here in this part of London, with the club's famous motto 'To dare is to do' – in its Latin form 'audere est facere' on the classic club badge – stationed in bold letters halfway up the stand behind both goals. Whether it be a flick, a dribble or an audacious eye-of-the-needle through ball, Lamela always dares.
On a night when so much about Spurs was new – from Son Heung-Min's first two goals for the club, via Kevin Wimmer and Clinton N'Jie's respective debuts all the way through to Dele Alli's dazzle in midfield – the Argentinian's efforts struck a chord with so much of the club's tradition.
Lamela always pulls something out the bag at the Lane in the UEFA Europa League, too. It was in the 5-1 win against Asteras here last October that he scored twice, including that stunning rabona finish from the edge of the area. It feels like this is Lamela's competition.
"Yes, yes," he smiled sheepishly to UEFA.com. "It's a special competition, of course, to show your capabilities in Europe. It helps everyone that plays in it too and lets us know we're at a good level. I'm happy to have won the first game in the Europa League, because it's a good thing to start off well in the group."
The strike against Asteras will live forever in the memory, but the UEFA Europa League has always been a touchstone for Lamela since he arrived in north London. It was in this tournament that he first started a match for Tottenham, in a 3-0 defeat of Tromsø in September 2013. He also netted his first goal in the lilywhite later in the same group campaign, in the November win against Sheriff.
Having taken his first steps for Spurs in this environment, he knows how key it could be to the progress of Alli, Wimmer and N'Jie. "It's important for the team to win," he continued, "to build up confidence, and for us to learn and to grow."
Lamela was modest when asked to describe his role for Mauricio Pochettino's men. "I give the maximum I can in training," he said, "and then try to give the maximum again in the games." Long may that commitment help him to light up Thursday nights in north London. The next European visitors, Anderlecht and Monaco, have been warned.