LONDON -- Carlos Vinicius scored his first two goals for Tottenham as Jose Mourinho's side warmed up for Sunday's Premier League trip to Chelsea with a convincing 4-0 win over Ludogorets Razgrad.
The Brazilian striker converted twice after fine build-up play before the interval at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before second half goals from Harry Winks, a lob from near the halfway line that was more miscued long pass than a deliberate moment of magic, and Lucas Moura secured a fifth straight win in all competitions for Jose Mourinho's side.
Read on for the key points from Spurs' convincing win.
Vinicius putting in the work for his Spurs chance
It is as poisoned a chalice as being paid tens of thousands of pounds a week to play at a top Premier League club can be. "Come back-up Harry Kane, our talismanic center forward, most consistent source of goals, admired by his team-mates, adored by supporters and eager to play every minute of every Spurs game," they say to prospective recruits. No wonder Tottenham found it so hard for so long to recruit a high-quality reserve for their star striker.
It remains too soon to say whether Vinicius will be another Vincent Janssen or Clinton N'Jie but he is at least up and running with his first goal in a Tottenham shirt after four games, slotting a deflected Dele through ball past Plamen Iliev. His second followed soon after with a similar supporting cast, Tanguy Ndombele driving forward and Dele squaring the rebound unselfishly for the 25-year-old to double his tally.
In reality this was the sort of game that was ideal for Vinicius to get in the goal scoring habit, Ludogorets had been riven by COVID-19 in the days before travelling to England and even if their side only bore three changes from the last meeting, they looked to be tired from the outset. What the defense, in particular, would not have wanted was as remorseless a forward as Vinicius playing in front of them.
He simply would not let them settle. There was no pass so conservative that he would not try to chase it down. Notably, he spent most of the 35th minute, right after scoring his goal, blocking the passing line back to goalkeeper Iliev, such was his refusal to allow Ludogorets to settle. In possession he was as happy to forge space for others to attack as he was to occupy it himself, and his interplay with Dele was particularly impressive as the attacking midfielder darted into the space created by Vinicius. Tonight these hard yards were rewarded on the score sheet, there will be many games where they are not.
Still with the likes of Lucas Moura, Dele and Gareth Bale in support perhaps it is not such a problem if Vinicius doesn't weigh in with goals when he brings so much more to this team.
Ndombele a class apart
The disparity between the top clubs in the Europa League and those sitting near the bottom of the standings may not offer as much of the group stage drama of the Champions League but one of the joys of the lesser European competition is the moment when the best players on the best teams just cut loose and relish being able to run the show.
Such was the case with Ndombele tonight. It ought to be no cause for shame or disappointment among the Ludogorets squad that they were unable to lay a glove on the former Lyon man.
Ndombele's revival in his and Mourinho's second season with the club has been among the most encouraging aspects of a campaign that has exceeded the expectations of many. After his fitness and energy were publicly questioned throughout last season the 23-year-old has emerged as something of a Spurs' iron man by comparison: only Lucas, Kane and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have started more games this season.
Even more important than minutes is morale and the club record signing seems to be relishing his every touch at the moment. When the ball comes his way he always looks up, endeavouring to commit opponents or find the line-breaking pass. On nights where it all comes together there are few more invigorating players to watch.
A true Hankook moment
For those of you who are recent converts to the European game or perhaps are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Europa League, you may be unfamiliar with the concept of 'Hankook'. Well, here goes. In a way the South Korean tyre company are nothing more than one of the lead sponsors of the Europa League across the competition. In a more accurate way, Hankook is a cornerstone of football culture across the continent.
For something to be Hankook it cannot quite be the best of the best. This isn't Champions League stuff, it's a little more low rent, less glamorous but with a far better theme tune.
The Champions League is Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich, heavyweights clashing in a bid to prove once and for all who is Europe's greatest force.
Hankook is freezing cold nights in a part of Europe you've never heard of. It is a competition that seems to take at least 15 months to complete. It is Winks looking up and spotting Bale's run down the right, taking his time to pick a pass, utterly shanking the ball and it sailing into the net, clanking of the crossbar for comedic effect.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is what makes you fall in love with this sport.
Lucas Moura: An offensive whirlwind, he kept popping up in atypical places, darting on from Vinicius one minute and dropping into midfield the next. RATING: 7
Jordan Ikoko: With Ben Davies, eager to overlap down the Spurs left, and Moura so versatile in positioning, plenty was asked of the Congolese right-back. Ikoko did all that could be asked of him, making five interceptions, two clearances and a tackle as Ludogorets tried to stem the tide. RATING: 6
Jack Clarke: A brief cameo for the former Leeds winger, but an encouraging one for Spurs. His running was direct and quick, the last thing a tiring Ludogorets side wanted. RATING: 6
Spurs travel to Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday but they are still some way from being able to take their qualification for the knockout stages for granted. They and Antwerp lead LASK Linz by three points ahead of next week's fixtures, where Tottenham travel to Austria to face LASK.
The eventual group winners could be decided in the final game between Antwerp and Spurs with the Belgian side holding the head to head advantage after a win on matchday two. Defeat for Ludogorets means they now cannot qualify from Group J.