Anderlecht 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Stefano Okaka inflicts first Europa League loss on Spurs
Last Updated: 23/10/15 8:15am
Anderlecht came from behind to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the Europa League on Thursday thanks to Stefano Okaka's second-half winner.
Christian Eriksen gave the visitors a dream start by scoring after just four minutes at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, only for Anderlecht to equalise soon after through Guillaume Gillet's crisp volley.
Spurs players blamed for loss
Mauricio Pochettino laid into his players and said Spurs are now under pressure in Group J...
And the home side gained their first win in Group J when former Fulham striker Okaka netted a winner 15 minutes from time - his seventh goal in 11 games - to leave both teams on four points at the halfway point in qualifying for the knockout phase.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino opted to field a strong-looking starting line-up, despite the north Londoners being without the likes of Nacer Chadli (ankle), Nabil Bentaleb (ankle), Ryan Mason (knee), Alex Pritchard (ankle) and Son Heung-min (foot) with injury.
However, the Argentine did decide to leave striker Harry Kane on the bench, with Cameroon international Clinton N'Jie handed his first start in his place after seven substitute appearances for the club this season.
Tottenham made an impressive start to the game, though, with Eriksen almost giving them a second-minute lead after taking advantage of some hesitancy in the home team's back four, only for the Dane's shot to lack the power to really trouble Silvio Proto in the Anderlecht goal.
But that miss was soon forgotten when the little Denmark international did open the scoring minutes later, with the playmaker benefiting from a fortunate ricochet on the edge of the area, before keeping his cool to side-foot past Proto.
Spurs could have soon doubled their advantage when that man Eriksen found an unmarked Erik Lamela in the six-yard box with a lovely through-ball, only for the forward's close-range shot to be blocked at his near post by a busy Proto.
And the visitors were made to pay for that costly miss when Anderlecht equalised out of the blue after 13 minutes, although there was little Spurs No. 1 Hugo Lloris could have done to keep out Gillet's well-struck volley after Steven Defour's corner had somehow made its way through to the unmarked right-back in the penalty area.
That goal appeared to breathe new life into the home team, who grew in confidence as a result, and soon it was Lloris, rather than Proto, being called into action on a regular basis.
The France international was twice called upon before half-time to keep his concentration as the always dangerous Okaka tried his luck with efforts from distance.
Pochettino decided to introduce Kane for N'Jie just before the hour-mark after the Cameroonian was booked and then warned to watch his step by referee Pol van Boekel, with the switch almost paying dividends soon after.
The England international did well to fight off the close attentions of Olivier Deschacht in the penalty area, but with just Proto to beat from six yards, the substitute could only hit the Anderlecht 'keeper's legs, and Spurs' best - and as it turned out only - opening of the second period had gone.
Thereafter, it was all Anderlecht as the home side went in search of a much-needed three points, with the impressive Lloris doing well to keep out Okaka's close-range header, before the giant forward struck.
Substitute Frank Acheampong used his pace to break clear of the Spurs back line and his inch-perfect left-wing cross then picked out the unmarked Okaka waiting in the six-yard box, with the Italian making no mistake with a simple finish.
In fact, Anderlecht could have further increased their advantage in the final quarter of an hour, but firstly Leander Dendoncker headed over from close range, before Lloris's legs denied Dennis Praet with virtually the last kick of the match.
Spurs return to Premier League action away to Bournemouth on Sunday, with their Europa League Group J challenge continuing at home to Anderlecht on Thursday, November 5.