By 90Min
December 06, 2017

Tottenham Hotspur were already confirmed as Group H winners even before defeating Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia 3-0 on Wednesday night and progressed effortlessly through to the Champions League's last 16. 

Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs side came into the game undefeated in their previous five group matches - winning four and drawing one. 

Giorgos Donis' Apoel have found the challenge of the group's opponents formidable and whilst they have not been able to win a game they have earned two encouraging draws against German side Borussia Dortmund and the opportunity to qualify for the Europa League - if they could better Dortmund's result against Real Madrid. 

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Both sides made a catalogue of changes from last weekend's league games. For Spurs, only three players remained from the score draw with Watford at Vicarage Road with Davinson Sanchez, Dele Alli and Son retaining their starting roles, but it gave the fringe players the opportunity to impress. 


For Apoel Nicosia, Cecilio Perez, Lorenzo Ebecilio, Ghayas Zahid, Praxitelis Vouros and Carlao started in their 2-1 home win over Ermis and remained in the side for their final match of the this year's group stage. 

In front of a sparse and subdued crowd, the game kicked off and Spurs quickly got into their stride by pressing their opponents when in possession. A couple of speculative efforts from Serge Aurier and Son tested Perez, in goal for the visitors, early on as the Lilywhites worked their way into the match. 

The first significant chance occurred in the ninth minute when a well delivered Harry Winks free kick was met decisively by a Fernando Llorente header which Perez managed to scramble away without much finesse. The follow up was then headed off the line by the well positioned Jesus Rueda to keep the game goalless. 

Spurs were now in complete control with Apoel content to defend, protecting what they had. Then in the 20th minute Llorente opened his goal-scoring account for Tottenham. Once again, Aurier broke down the right and crossed low into the penalty area where the waiting Spaniard controlled and turned smartly, finishing clinically past the on-rushing Perez. 

Nothing much was evident of the Cypriot champions as an attacking force during the first half. Spurs were passing the ball around with a growing confidence, dominating possession and attacking at will - continually probing away at their opponents as if looking to expose a weakness. 

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Then in the 37th minute Spurs doubled their lead. Son took possession of ball on the edge of the area and dribbled into the box. The South Korean played a quick wall pass to Llorente and then calmly curled the well weighted ball past the stationary keeper. 

A comfortable first half, which at times resembled a training ground match, but Spurs were certainly good value for their lead at the break. An undoubted positive for the home side was the developing understanding between Son and Llorente, which showed deft touches and intelligent movement.

The start of the second half continued in a similar vein to the first with Spurs dominating and Michel Vorm untroubled, but to Apoel's credit they did start with more attacking ambition. 

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In the 57th minute Aurier nearly added a third after a slip from Llorente following a Danny Rose cross, the Ivory Coast international followed up, but Perez managed to beat the fierce strike away. 

Rose was fortunate to only receive a yellow card in the 68th minute after an innocuous challenge from substitute Roland Sallai. The England international reacted in pushing the Apoel player away as tempers became frayed, but the official quickly defused the situation by booking both players.

As the game wore on, the entertainment reduced with both teams seemingly happy with the inevitable outcome, although the encouraging singing by the Cypriot club's supporters could be heard throughout. 

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In the 80th minute, Tottenham's Georges N'koudou injected some life into the match as he jinked unopposed into the penalty his deflected shot off the visitor's captain Morais wrong-footed his own keeper and bounced into the apologetic net. The goal was greeted with muted applause, which was symbolic of the game's inevitability. 

A good night's work for Spurs who played well within their ability. Nevertheless, Pochettino will be pleased overall with the showing of his squad players particularly the combination play of Son and Llorente. The Argentine will be hoping this victory can reignite their league form knowing Stoke City await on Saturday.

Unfortunately, with the result on the night combined with events in Dortmund means Apoel now exit all European competition for this season at least. 

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