Qarabag 0-1 Tottenham: Harry Kane strikes late to seal Spurs progress
Last Updated: 26/11/15 10:56pm
Harry Kane struck 12 minutes from time to seal a 1-0 win at Qarabag and book Tottenham's place in the last 32 of the Europa League.
The Spurs striker reacted quickest to head home from a Christian Eriksen corner on 78 minutes in Azerbaijan on Thursday, extending Spurs' unbeaten run to six matches.
Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli had hit the woodwork as Tottenham came on strong in the second half after a poor first 45 minutes, although Qarabag's Dani Quintana twice forced Hugo Lloris into smart saves.
The home side had a late strike correctly ruled out for offside, but Spurs successfully saw out the game's final moments as Gurban Gurbanov's 300th match in charge of Qarabag ended in defeat.
Anderlecht's 2-0 victory in Monaco means all three of the remaining Group J teams could qualify on the final matchday, while Tottenham will be looking to secure top spot when they welcome Leonardo Jardim's team to White Hart Lane on December 10.
Mauricio Pochettino named a strong starting line-up for the trip to Baku, making just three changes from the team that defeated West Ham on Sunday despite the prospect of a 5,000-mile round trip and a game against Chelsea on Sunday.
Tottenham started the brighter at the Tofik Bakhramov Stadium, Alli spurning their best chance of the first half after 16 minutes. Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier looked Spurs' best attacking outlets early on, and the latter got free down the right before squaring for Alli, but the unmarked midfielder miscued his volley over the bar.
Spurs monopolised possession as the half wore on, but struggled to break down a stubborn Qarabag defence that prior to Thursday had conceded just one goal at home in Europe.
And the Azeri side, unbeaten at home in five European matches heading into the fixture, had the clearest opportunity just before the break through Quintana.
Spurs were caught out following a poorly worked short corner and Qarabag countered quickly, but they failed to make the most of a two-on-one, Quintana scuffing his shot into the ground.
The second half started much the same way the first ended, with Qarabag nullifying their opponents through sheer weight of numbers. But Tottenham stayed patient, and went close through Son 20 minutes after the restart.
The South Korea international worked the ball onto his left foot before letting fly from 18 yards, but Qarabag 'keeper Ibrahim Sehic tipped his effort onto the bar.
Eric Dier then tested Sehic with a low drive from range, although Gurbanov's side retained a threat through Quintana. The Spaniard, who came through the ranks at Valencia, forced Lloris into a reaction stop as the game started to open up in the latter stages.
Son, twice flagged offside in the first half after breaking into promising positions, made it through a third time but dallied in possession, allowing Qarabag's defence to scramble back and clear.
And it looked like Spurs would have to settle for a draw as Alli struck the post with a fine first-time effort before Kane was superbly denied by an inspired Sehic moments later.
But from Tottenham's 13th corner of the evening, the England forward darted in front of the Qarabag 'keeper to turn Son's flick into the net for his ninth goal in his last six Tottenham games, sealing his side's place in the knockout round in the process.