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Pitch invaders cast shadow on Tottenham Hotspur's success

By Simon Peach

Tottenham face Uefa sanctions after their Europa League tie with Partizan Belgrade was suspended, overshadowing their progress to the knockout stages.

Play was halted 41 minutes into this Group C clash after individuals encroached onto the pitch on three separate occasions in what appeared to be an orchestrated PR stunt.

The incident led to a temporary suspension of play at White Hart Lane, where Mauricio Pochettino's men would eventually triumph 1-0 thanks to Benjamin Stambouli's first goal for the club.

The win against already eliminated Partizan means Spurs progress to the round of 32 with a game to spare, although it is the unsavoury incidents which will be making the headlines - just like in the sides' previous meeting.

September's 0-0 draw in Belgrade was shrouded in controversy after home fans displayed an anti-Semitic banner.

It led to Uefa fining Partizan and handing down a partial stadium closure for their next home match, although it is Spurs who are now facing sanctions from the organising body.

Last night, on three different occasions, members of the public climbed onto the field, leading referee Yevhen Aranovskiy to temporarily suspend a match in which an Albanian flag was seen in the home end - an apparent bid to rile visiting fans after last month's Euro 2016 qualifier in Serbia was abandoned.

It was far from a straightforward win as Partizan produced a spirited performance, although Spurs eventually emerged victorious thanks to Stambouli's strike shortly after half-time.

Stambouli was happy to get the job done after his goal earned Tottenham the win.

"It was good to celebrate this goal with the Tottenham fans," he said.

"We needed to win this game to finish first in the group and now we can think forward."

Spurs are first but need to avoid defeat in their final game with Turkish club Besiktas to keep that spot.

"The Europa League is good, even if (it is) only the Europa League," Stambouli added.

"We played a good team who like to fight. We need to improve and we tried to score one more goal than them and thankfully we did."

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