Spurs claim vital away win

Harry Kane (AFP)
Harry Kane (AFP)

Madrid - Tottenham Hotspur closed in on a place in the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday after coming from behind to win 2-1 away to AEL Limassol in Cyprus in their play-off first leg.

The north London side are looking to reach the group stage for the fourth season running, and late goals by Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane have them in the driving seat ahead of next week's return at White Hart Lane.

However, their quest did not get off to the best of starts at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca.

Spanish striker Adrian Sardinero opened the scoring in the 14th minute for AEL, who finished second in the Cypriot top flight last season and parachuted into the Europa League after losing to Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League third qualifying round.

Slack play in midfield by Paulinho created the chance for Sardinero to run through and beat Hugo Lloris, sparking wild celebrations from the home fans.

Paulinho was one of those brought into the starting line-up by Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino as seven changes were made from Saturday's 1-0 win at West Ham United.

Questions have been asked about how seriously the new Spurs coach will take the Europa League, and his team looked second best for long spells.

However, they were rescued in the final 20 minutes by another two players promoted to the starting line-up in the heat of the Mediterranean.

Kane saw a shot turned onto the woodwork by home goalkeeper Karim Fegrouch before Soldado got the equaliser in the 74th minute.

This time Kane fed substitute Erik Lamela, whose terrific pass was emphatically hammered home by the Spanish striker.

And Spurs completed the turnaround with 10 minutes to go thanks to another piece of inspiration from Lamela and a finish from the 21-year-old Kane.

Europa League play-off round, first leg results on Thursday:

Aktobe (KAZ) 0 Legia Warsaw (POL) 1 (Duda 48)
Astana (KAZ) 0 Villarreal (ESP) 3 (Cani 33, Dos Santos 48, Mario Gaspar 84)
Dynamo Moscow (RUS) 2 (Samba 33, Buettner 72) Omonia Nicosia (CYP) 2 (Lobzhanidze 2, Fofana 59)
Ruch Chorzow (POL) 0 Metalist Kharkiv (UKR) 0
Qarabag (AZE) 0 FC Twente Enschede (NED) 0
HJK Helsinki (FIN) 2 (Lod 63, Vayrynen 74) Rapid Vienna (AUT) 1 (Schaub 58)
AEL Limassol (CYP) 1 (Adrian Sardinero 14) Tottenham Hotspur (ENG) 2 (Soldado 74, Kane 80)
PSV Eindhoven (NED) 1 (Maher 59) Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR) 0
Karabukspor (TUR) 1 (Kumbela 60) Saint-Etienne (FRA) 0
Elfsborg (SWE) 2 (Prodell 27, Mobaeck 38) Rio Ave (POR) 1 (Marcelo 65)
Dinamo Minsk (BLR) 2 (Stasevich 44-pen, Nikolic 55) Nacional (POR) 0

Wednesday's results:
Dnipro (UKR) 2 (Kalinic 50, Shakhov 88) Hajduk Split (CRO) 1 (Susic 47)
Stjarnan (ISL) 0 Inter Milan (ITA) 3 (Icardi 41, Dodo 48, D'Ambrosio 89)

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