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Soldado hits a hat-trick as Spurs maintain perfect Europa League campaign

Roberto Soldado completes his hat-trick from the penalty spot Roberto Soldado completes his hat-trick from the penalty spot

Thursday, December 12, 2013
9:56 PM

Europa League: Tottenham 4 Anzhi 1

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Roberto Soldado ended his barren run with a hat-trick as Tottenham completed the group stage of their Europa League campaign with a perfect record.

The Spanish striker had previously gone five games without a goal, losing his place to Jermain Defoe for the last two Premier League games - but he scored twice inside the opening 16 minutes against Anzhi before netting from the penalty spot in the second half.

Spurs’ victory over Anzhi means they have won all six of their games in Group K – and there was more good news for the home fans as Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen returned from injury, while 21-year-old Ryan Fredericks made his first appearance for over two years as a half-time substitute and 19-year-old striker Shaquile Coulthirst came on for his debut.

Spurs had already won the group before kick-off so, with nothing riding on the result and a big game to come against Liverpool on Sunday, Andre Villas-Boas made wholesale changes.

Rose started at left-back, having missed 17 games with a foot problem – and an injury crisis at centre-back meant that Zeki Fryers and Etienne Capoue lined up together at the heart of the defence.

Erik Lamela was given some game time on the right flank while Andros Townsend started on the left, having impressed on that side as a substitute at Sunderland at the weekend.

Anzhi had the first sight of goal, getting in behind Fryers and Capoue too easily and forcing Brad Friedel into an early save.

However, Townsend then beat three men on the wing, being brought down just to the left of the penalty box – and, when Gylfi Sigurdsson whipped in the resulting free-kick, Soldado scored with a close-range glancing header.

It was 2-0 less than 10 minutes later, with the Spaniard doubling his tally for the evening – but this time the goal came down the other flank, with Lamela cutting inside from the right and playing a neat through ball to the striker, who fired low into the far corner.

While the match was of little importance to Tottenham in terms of the result, it was quickly turning into a valuable evening in terms of confidence-building for two of their summer signings – Lamela and Soldado – who have been struggling to justify their £26million fees so far this season.

The wingers were enjoying themselves against a Russian outfit who have failed to win any of their league games so far this season, and Townsend got to the by-line and hung up a cross for Sigurdsson, who was unable to get the necessary power or direction on his header.

Anzhi then sprung the offside trap for the second time in the game as Ilya Maksimov bore down on the goal, but Capoue managed to recover and make a superb sliding tackle.

Spurs very nearly made it 3-0 at the other end as Sigurdsson played a one-two with Soldado and freed Townsend, who chipped the keeper and saw the ball drop agonisingly wide of the far post.

But instead the visitors halved the deficit, with Friedel tipping Gia Grigalava’s initial header over the bar but being unable to prevent a goal from the following corner as Ewerton beat Naughton to the ball to prod home from six yards.

Rose was withdrawn at half-time, with Fredericks coming on to make his fourth appearance for Spurs – his previous outing coming against Rubin Kazan in November 2011.

Fredericks was deployed at right-back, with Naughton switching to left-back – and the wingers also swapped flanks, with Townsend moving to the right side and setting up a goal less than 10 minutes after the restart.

Drifting infield, the England winger chipped the ball in to Lewis Holtby, who produced a fine piece of skill to control the ball and then flick it past Anzhi keeper Evgeni Pomazan without it touching the ground.

There was more good news for Spurs fans as Eriksen returned from injury, replacing Mousa Dembele just after the hour-mark – and their evening got even better in the 70th minute as Fredericks embarked on a mazy run and was brought down in the box, with Soldado stepping up to score from the spot and complete his treble.

Spurs could have added to their haul for the night as Pomazan tipped Lamela’s header over the bar and dived full-stretch to save Holtby’s searing strike, while Friedel had to be alert with a double save at the other end, denying Nikita Burmistrov and then blocking the follow-up from the same player.

Coulthirst was given a moment to savour as he made his first appearance for the club, replacing Spurs’ hat-trick hero, who departed to a standing ovation from the White Hart Lane faithful.

Tottenham: Friedel, Naughton, Capoue, Fryers, Rose (Fredericks 45), Dembele (Eriksen 63), Holtby, Lamela, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Soldado (Coulthirst 78).

Attendance: 23,101

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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