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Carlos Vinicius nets twice as Tottenham ease to victory over Ludogorets
Vinicius’ brace ensured Harry Kane could remain an unused substitute for Spurs.
Carlos Vinicius scored his first two goals for Tottenham to help them cruise to a 4-0 win over Ludogorets in Group J of the Europa League.
Harry Winks added a third after half-time from close to the halfway line – although there were doubts over whether he meant it – before Lucas Moura wrapped up the scoring late on to keep Spurs on course for the knockout phase.
Jose Mourinho introduced Dane Scarlett with eight minutes left and the 16-year-old in the process became the youngest player to feature for the club, beating John Bostock’s previous record.
Despite the low-key feel to this fixture, the hosts showed good intent from the off against their Bulgarian opponents.
Gareth Bale had four early efforts before the opener arrived in the 16th minute thanks to a cool finish by Vinicius.
Dele Alli, making his first appearance since October 29, attempted to play the Welshman in on goal, but his pass was deflected into the path of the on-loan Benfica striker and he fooled visiting goalkeeper Plamen Iliev with his eyes to slot into the bottom corner.
It saw the 25-year-old get off the mark for his new club at the fifth time of asking and, with 34 minutes on the clock, he grabbed a second.
Moments after Ben Davies had hit the post from a fine pass by Alli, the England playmaker got his second assist of the night.
Tanguy Ndombele – the only player to retain his starting berth from Saturday’s win over Manchester City – brought the ball forward, shrugged off four opponents and tested Iliev from 20 yards.
While the Ludogorets goalkeeper pushed the low strike away from goal, it only went as far as Alli and he unselfishly cut back for Vinicius to tap into the empty net and make it 2-0.
It had been comfortable viewing for Mourinho, who handed a second start of the season to Japhet Tanganga and partnered him with Davinson Sanchez at the heart of Spurs’ back four.
With Toby Alderweireld ruled out until next month, the battle to replace him was on, and the young academy graduate was eager to showcase his ability after six months largely spent on the treatment table with back and thigh injuries.
Two moments of rashness at the start of the second half highlighted his lack of game time, which was certainly not the case for the in-form Ndombele.
Spurs’ record signing had looked set for the exit door at one stage under Mourinho but has been transformed this term and produced another masterful display before he was replaced with 29 minutes left.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg replaced the Frenchman and it was his midfield partner who was the surprise scorer of Tottenham’s third goal.
Captain for the night Davies found Winks with a throw-in and, despite being 50 yards from goal, his effort caught out Iliev and went in off the post.
Given Bale had made a run into space and the England international did not look at goal, it appeared to be a fortuitous effort, but the boyhood fan was able to toast his third goal for Spurs.
Moura grabbed a fourth in the 73rd minute with a curled finish into the corner after Vinicius had controlled Alli’s cross, and Mourinho ensured it was a night to remember for several youngsters.
He introduced teenagers Harvey White and Scarlett for their debuts, while goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman also made his first competitive appearance for the club when he came on for Joe Hart with eight minutes left.
Both Scarlett and White went close to scoring before proceedings came to an end and, with Royal Antwerp beating LASK, Tottenham only need a point in Austria next Thursday to secure progression into the last 32.