Erik Lamela saves Spurs in Europa League

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Tottenham Hotspur had to come from behind to beat Cypriot side AEL Limassol 2-1 in their Europa League qualification first leg, and it was substitute Erik Lamela who saved the day for countryman Mauricio Pochettino.

Pochettino had made seven changes to the team that beat West Ham by a single goal on Saturday, with Ben Davies handed his competitive debut for Spurs and World Cup returnees Jan Vertonghen and Paulinho starting.

Errors from returnees

All three were involved in the Limassol goal, with Paulinho losing possession inside his own half and Davies and Vertonghen being caught out of position as Adrian Sardinero ran through and scored past Hugo Lloris.

Roberto Soldado missed a glorious chance to equalise as he shanked the rebound from Harry Kane's shot. The 21-year-old academy product set up the winner at the weekend and was the main Tottenham threat in the first half with his long range shooting testing the hosts' keeper.

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With temperatures hitting 30C, the game was likely to favour the fittest team and Pochettino's new training regime, as well as the introduction of Lamela, Moussa Dembele and Nacer Chadli, changed the game.

Lamela had a dire first season in north London but looks set to be given more chance under Pochettino, and he rewarded his manager's early faith by setting up both Tottenham goals.

Lamela impact

First, he clipped a lofted through ball over the AEL backline for Soldado to finish expertly first time. Then the tricky winger played a ball into the path of the onrushing Kane, who slotted the ball into the top corner.

Pochettino was understandably happy with Lamela, and also the team in general as they take a lead back to White Hart Lane for the second leg.

"It is never easy in the first season for a player from another country. It is true that it was difficult for him. He was injured, too, and we are confident with him that with time and hard work, like he has done in pre-season, that he can go far," he told the press.

Focus on the future

"He was very disappointed about last season but the past is the past. We need him to look forward, believe in his skill and condition and work very, very hard. With confidence and time he will show his value. You always nominate players on the bench who can have an impact and all three subs had an impact on the game.

"I think it was a very tough game a difficult game, a hard game because he conditions were difficult and the weather was difficult."I'm happy with the performance. In the end 2-1 for us is an important result for us.

"It is true that in the first half we started to make mistakes, but in general, I am happy and looking forward to the next game, on Sunday."

QPR next

Next up, Spurs face QPR in the Premier League, with Harry Redknapp returning to the club.

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Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur
Europa League

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