Harry Kane marked his first start of the season for Tottenham Hotspurs with a decisive brace as Tottenham overturned a 1-0 first-leg defeat with a 3-0 win over Portugal side Pacos de Ferreira to secure a place in the inaugural Europa Conference League.
Kane has played only 18 minutes in the Premier League this season, coming off the bench to replace Son in a 1-0 victory over Wolves following a heavily interrupted pre-season that was dominated by uncertainty surrounding his future, but after seemingly accepting Spurs’ refusal to sell him to the interested Manchester City, he was back in the starting XI and off the mark for the campaign.
Pacos de Ferreira’s aggregate lead stood for just nine minutes as the lively Bryan Gil capped his home debut with an impressive assist to tee up Kane and the England striker doubled his tally just after the half-hour mark, to put Spurs ahead in aggregate.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side subsequently produced a controlled and professional display after the interval, with a Vitorino Antunes own goal ultimately ending Pacos de Ferreira’s chances of a late turnaround.
It always looked destined to be a long evening for the away side and Spurs’ intensity inspired the opener, as Harry Winks won back possession and fed Gil in behind the defense, his inch-perfect cut-back allowing Kane to level the aggregate score.
Gil found Kane again in the 34th minute, the England captain seeing his initial shot charged down, but Giovani Lo Celso kept the threat alive and the rebound from his follow-up effort was tucked in by the alert Kane.
Spurs continued the dominance in the second half, with Lo Celso seeing a curling free-kick go just wide before Bryan blasted over from the middle of the area.
Andre Ferreira made a necessary save to thwart Lo Celso just past the hour, and then Gil opted against teeing up Kane for his hat-trick but saw his shot go wide.
Spurs wrapped the win with 20 minutes of normal time left to play as Antunes deflected a Lo Celso free-kick into his own goal, and Kane was swiftly withdrawn to a rapturous ovation with qualification secured.
With the Kane saga and Nuno Espirito without a striker in the first matches of the season, the new Spurs’ boss has lost only one match in the four matches Spurs’ have already played this season. The loss came when they fell to Pacos de Ferreira in the first leg last week in Portugal. The former Wolves head coach has had 100% wins in the two Premier League ties Spurs have played, a 1-0 win over City and Wolves.
With the Kane saga now over, Nuno has had a boost to his squad if the striker will continue with his impressive goal-scoring abilities. Last night whilst wearing the captain’s armband, he looked as focused and composed as ever, cracking a few smiles as he opened his account for the season.
Spurs fans are yet to see the new number 11, Bryan Gil in Premier League action, his only previous outing being the first leg of this tie very soon after he returned from the Olympic Games. Occupying a roaming role, Gil looked bright and inventive between the lines. His assist was the least he deserved in what was an encouraging display.
He got a mixed reception at the start when his name was read out, but two goals and a solid performance later, he was given a good ovation as he left the pitch. Fans will hope his flirting with City will not have any real impact on Kane’s form, and this was a nice way to ease himself back into the swing of things.
Spurs are back to Premier League action on Sunday as they host newly-promoted Watford at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in their final game before the international break.