Mousa Dembele scored a stunning late winner as Tottenham beat Anderlecht 2-1 to move top of Group J in the Europa League.
A compelling contest at White Hart Lane looked to be heading for a draw after Harry Kane’s first half finish was canceled out by Imoh Ezekiel, but Dembele sealed victory in the 87th minute with a superb strike into the top corner. The victory is Tottenham’s third in a row in all competitions and means Mauricio Pochettino’s side move one point clear of Monaco with two group games left to play.
Kane was one of four Spurs players to be named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad earlier on Thursday — along with Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Kyle Walker — and the striker continued his recent return to form, scoring his fifth goal in three games with a smart shot in the first half. It was Dembele, however, who grabbed the spotlight, coming off the bench to seal a dramatic win with the north London derby against Arsenal to come on Sunday.
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Tottenham have struggled to juggle the Europa League with their top-four ambitions in recent seasons, but Pochettino resisted the temptation to rest players ahead of the crunch match at the Emirates, as only Danny Rose, Walker and Dembele dropped out of the starting lineup.
A year ago on Wednesday, Anderlecht came from three down to draw 3-3 against Arsenal in the Champions League, but only five of that team started at White Hart Lane, with star midfielder Dennis Praet a key absentee with a thigh strain.
The visitors looked no less dangerous early on, however, with bruising center forward Stefano Okaka twice running between Tottenham’s defense in the opening four minutes, with the second occasion needing a last-ditch challenge from Jan Vertonghen to deny the finish. Steven Defour continued Anderlecht’s fast start with a fizzing shot, which Hugo Lloris tipped over the bar, then a quick one-two allowed Youri Tielemans to drive inches wide of the post.
Spurs were struggling to cope with their opponents’ pace and movement in the first 25 minutes but they needed only one chance to take the lead just before the half-hour. Okaka had riled the home fans by delaying play with a head injury, but with the striker off the field, Tottenham pounced, as Christian Eriksen flicked into the path of Kane, who finished first time into the left corner.