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Son shines for Spurs as Qarabağ seen off

Tottenham 3-1 Qarabağ
Son Heung-Min scored his first two goals in a Spurs shirt as the hosts came from behind to open Group J with a win.

Son Heung-Min celebrates after scoring for Tottenham
Son Heung-Min celebrates after scoring for Tottenham ©Getty Images
  • Richard Almeida puts Qarabağ ahead after striking in both legs of play-off
  • Son Heung-Min hits back with a double, his first goals for Tottenham
  • Erik Lamela seals the win after an industrious performance
  • Next Group J games: Qarabağ v Anderlecht, Monaco v Tottenham (1 October)

Tottenham Hotspur got their UEFA Europa League campaign off to a flier with Son Heung-Min's first two goals for the club laying the foundation for a 3-1 Group J win over a strong Qarabağ side.

A much-changed Spurs XI started at a good tempo, but the visitors from Azerbaijan immediately signalled their prowess on the break as Reynaldo countered to force Hugo Lloris into a second-minute save.

Another counterattack led to Kieran Trippier fouling Ansi Agolli just inside the penalty area. Richard Almeida – having scored from the spot in the play-offs against Young Boys – confidently slotted home the penalty to Lloris's left.

Gurban Gurbanov's organised team looked comfortable as the half-hour approached, but two goals in three minutes turned the match on its head and brought White Hart Lane back to its noisy best. Son got both, his first two goals for the club.

Son Heung-Min turns in the equaliser
Son Heung-Min turns in the equaliser©Getty Images

Firstly, he snuck in front of goalkeeper Ibrahim Šehić to poke home Andros Townsend's inswinging corner and with the away side still regrouping, Dele Alli danced through the defence and picked out the No7 to side-foot firmly into the far corner for his second.

Tottenham piled on the pressure, but Qarabağ almost pulled level out of nowhere when Afran Ismayilov lifted the ball agonisingly wide after latching onto Danny Rose's back pass.

The second half saw a flurry of chances at both ends, with Erik Lamela smacking the post with the best of them and Dani Quintana heading over when well placed for the visitors. It was Lamela who finally sealed the victory with a delightful lifted finish from substitute Harry Kane's pass.

Son on song
Some raised an eyebrow when Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino suggested winger Son could be an option at centre-forward after he arrived from Bayer Leverkusen this summer. So the manager is entitled to feel pleased with himself, having started him in the middle here and being rewarded with the South Korean international's first two goals for the club.

Richard Almeida breaks the deadlock
Richard Almeida breaks the deadlock©Getty Images

Qarabağ still competitive
Placed in a group with three clubs possessing formidable histories in UEFA competition, Qarabağ are underdogs again, but observers should know better than to underestimate the Azerbaijani champions. They excelled in the UEFA Europa League last term, missing out on the knockout rounds by just one point, behind eventual finalists Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Spurs' power on the bench
After Son worked his magic, Pochettino was able to freshen up his attack in the final exchanges, bringing on regular first choice Kane and the pacey Clinton Njié. It was ideal with Qarabağ chasing the game, and it will be interesting to see how the manager uses his options through this group phase.

©Getty Images
©Getty Images
©Getty Images
©Getty Images