Llorente hat-trick helps Spurs thrash sorry Tranmere
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FA Cup third round: Tranmere Rovers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 7
Fernando Llorente scored a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur ran amok at Tranmere, with Mauricio Pochettino’s swashbuckling side netting seven as they cruised through their FA Cup third-round tie.
The Premier League title contenders took on the League Two play-off hopefuls at a sell-out Prenton Park on Friday night, when the TV cameras were in position in hope of an upset at a club with a famous cup pedigree.
But Spurs avoided any issues against Tranmere as Pochettino’s much-changed side dominated from the outset, with Llorente’s treble complementing a Serge Aurier brace, a stunning Heung-min Son solo goal and a Harry Kane effort in a 7-0 win against Micky Mellon’s side.
The north Londoners had progressed from 17 of their past 18 FA Cup ties against lower-league opposition, but Pochettino, looking for his first trophy, last season saw his side taken to a replay by Newport County and Rochdale.
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There were no such problems against Tranmere, with early missed chances atoned for as Aurier’s long-range strike bent into the top corner via a slight deflection before a devastating second-half display.
Llorente scored before Aurier completed his brace - both goals were set up by Son, who would score his own in some style as he ran from his own half and eventually turned home.
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Spurs will miss the South Korea international when he heads off to the Asian Cup and could rue a January exit for Llorente, who completed a second-half hat-trick before being replaced by Kane - a move greeted by concerned home jeers and swiftly followed by a goal.
It was quite the performance from a Tottenham side showing eight changes from the midweek win at Cardiff.
Son was one of those to retain their place and was denied one-one-one by goalkeeper Scott Davies inside seven minutes, with Lucas Moura fluffing his lines soon after.
Llorente’s penalty claims after going down under pressure from Stephen McNulty fell on deaf ears as Ben Davies got away another attempt on goal, before Connor Jennings, James Norwood and Manny Monthe had efforts as Tranmere tried to spring a surprise.
Llorente went close with a volley on the turn during that spell, before Tottenham went ahead in eye-catching fashion in the 40th minute.
Tranmere cleared after some patient build-up play following a short corner, but Norwood was dispossessed as he looked to hold the ball up and Aurier unleashed a thumping strike with the outside of his boot that took a slight touch and arced into the top right-hand corner.
Three minutes after half-time and the tie was all but over as Son darted past Monthe on the right and sent a low cross over for Llorente to turn home.
Tottenham then turned the screw after Harvey Gilmour had an attempt to half the deficit.
Moura saw a penalty appeal against Davies rejected shortly before the Tranmere goalkeeper was beaten by Aurier. Son took a superb touch and played wide to the overlapping full-back, whose low effort Mark Ellis could not clear off the line.
That 55th-minute effort was soon followed by another. Son picked up the ball inside his own half and burst through a gaping hole, darted past Ellis and turned smartly beyond Davies.
Ollie Banks stung the palms and Jake Caprice struck across the face of goal as Tranmere looked to get a consolation, but this was Tottenham’s night.
Shortly after George Marsh came on for his Spurs debut, Oliver Skipp capped his second start by playing through Llorente to notch the visitors’ fifth in the 71st minute.
Just 66 seconds later and the Spaniard secured the match ball, with Moura this time playing provider in front of the visiting fans.
Dele Alli went close and Timothy Eyoma became Spurs’ latest debutant in-between Llorente leaving to a standing ovation and being replaced by Kane.
The home faithful’s groan was as audible as it was understandable, with the England captain inevitably netting seven minutes after coming on.