Lamela scores first-half hat-trick as Spurs beat Monaco to secure top spot in Europa League group
Erik Lamela scored a first-half hat-trick as Tottenham thumped Monaco 4-1 at White Hart Lane to and secured top spot in Group J of the Europa League.
Eighteen-year-old Joshua Onomah made his first start for Spurs but it was Lamela who stole the show, breaking the deadlock inside the first two minutes and registering again after quarter of an hour before wrapping up his treble in the 37th minute.
Stephan El Shaarawy hit back for Monaco on the hour-mark with a fine finish from outside the box, but Tom Carroll restored the hosts’ three-goal cushion with his first senior goal for the club.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side had only needed a draw to finish top of their group, but they got much more than that and will consequently avoid the best four teams that drop down from the Champions League as well as the other group winners when the draw for the last 32 is made on Monday.
There were seven changes to the Spurs side that had lined up at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
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Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier, Ben Davies, Carroll, Onomah and Heung-Min Son all came into the team and, with Harry Kane getting a rest on the bench, Clinton Njie started up front in his place.
Spurs were quickly on the front foot with a sharp passing move involving Carroll, Onomah and Son – and, although the move broke down, Davies immediately won the ball back and played a one-two with Njie before delivering a low cross for Lamela, who tucked the ball home with less than two minutes on the clock.
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The Lilywhites doubled the lead 13 minutes later with the simplest of goals. Son headed the ball on to Lamela, whose low shot from outside the box was straight at visiting goalkeeper Danijel Subasic but slipped underneath him on the wet surface.
Monaco looked vulnerable every time Spurs came forward and Son ran on to Lamela’s through ball before beating Subasic, only for the offside flag to go up – correctly.
The South Korea international then volleyed wide from a corner and Carroll whipped a shot over from the edge of the box, while Onomah saw a shot palmed behind at the near post and Toby Alderweireld’s attempted flick from a low corner was deflected wide.
Monaco briefly threatened as Tiemoue Bakayoko’s strike deflected narrowly wide with Hugo Lloris rooted to the spot – but Tottenham extended their lead further.
Njie nicked the ball away from Monaco inside the visitors’ half and Son freed Lamela, who fired between Subasic and the right post.
Eric Dier was replaced by the returning Nabil Bentaleb before the interval after getting a knock on his ankle, but there was little disruption to Spurs’ rhythm and, 10 minutes after the break, Onomah was denied by Subasic.
Monaco then pulled a goal back out of nowhere on the hour-mark as El Shaarawy whipped the ball into the bottom right corner from 25 yards - and that gave the visitors a lift, with Nabil Dirar heading wide from a corner.
But Tottenham gathered themselves and enjoyed a good spell of possession, with Bentaleb directing proceedings, while Davies led an attack which resulted in his shot being blocked and Njie’s follow-up being saved.
Nacer Chadli followed Bentaleb in making his return from injury, coming on in place of Lamela, and Spurs restored their three-goal cushion in the 77th minute. Njie was denied by Subasic again but Carroll latched onto the loose ball and a defensive mix-up allowed him to reach the by-line before scoring from a narrow angle.
Tottenham: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies, Dier (Bentaleb 42), Carroll, Njie (Alli 79), Lamela (Chadli 62), Onomah, Son
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs