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Europa League: Tottenham Hotspur break Hearts

Hearts 0 Tottenham Hotspur 5: Tottenham ran riot at Tynecastle to all but seal their place in the Europa League group stages with a comprehensive play-off first leg win over Hearts.

Spurs were last season mixing it among Europe's elite, beating Inter Milan and AC Milan in the Champions League before being knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Real Madrid — and their class told throughout this contest.

It took little more than four minutes for the visitors to take the lead as Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring and Jermain Defoe netted a second eight minutes later.

Jake Livermore struck on his third Spurs appearance after 28 minutes as the visitors — playing their first competitive match of the season following the trouble in London — scythed through the hosts' defence once more.

After demonstrating their superior speed and strength in the first half, Gareth Bale did so once more as he netted a fourth after 63 minutes and Aaron Lennon added a fifth after 78 minutes.

A contest billed in some quarters as a 'Battle of Britain' between Scotland's third best side and England's fifth now appears to have ended before next week's return leg at White Hart Lane.

Hearts fans taunted their rivals saying “your city's on fire”. Unfortunately for the men in maroon, so were the opposition as Spurs quickly put their troubled build-up behind them.

After five minutes Van der Vaart hit a one-two with Defoe which Hearts failed to intercept, Marius Zaliukas blasting the ball into the Dutchman.

As a throng of Hearts defenders paused on the edge of the area claiming handball, Van der Vaart played to the whistle and prodded the ball in beyond Marian Kello.

Soon the visitors were two up; Lennon's pass from the left channel found the onrushing Defoe for a simple finish.

Van der Vaart was a constant threat and he teed up Bale to shoot narrowly off target before Spurs netted a third. Livermore took the initiative, bursting into the area and combining with Defoe before drilling in.

Defoe had an effort blocked by Jamie Hamill moments later and struck the bar following an acrobatic effort from Lennon's cross, but the striker was offside.

It was one-way traffic and although two corners early in the second half had Spurs scrambling to clear Bale scored the fourth with his last touch of the match. He was replaced by debutant Andros Townsend but Spurs were not yet finished and when Defoe crossed from the left, Lennon tapped in.

Belfast Telegraph


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