AEL vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Winners and Losers from Europa League Game
Tottenham Hotspur had to come from a goal down to earn a hard-fought 2-1 win away to AEL Limassol on Thursday.
Adrian Sardinero had given the Cypriot side the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour, and it wasn't until Roberto Soldado's equaliser with 16 minutes remaining that Spurs even looked comfortable in Larnaca.
But the introduction of Erik Lamela changed everything, and shortly after coming on, the Argentine set up Soldado and Harry Kane, who potted the winner in the 80th minute, to help secure the crucial away win for the Premier League side.
Lamela certainly impressed on Thursday, as did Kane. Paulinho and Lewis Holtby, however, struggled to make an impact.
Following are the winners and losers from Tottenham's 2-1 win.
Winner: Erik Lamela, Who Changed Everything
Erik Lamela has had a spring in his step since the beginning of pre-season, and on Thursday he turned the match on its head when he was introduced in the 72nd minute.
Shortly after replacing Andros Townsend, the 22-year-old received the ball from Harry Kane and proceeded to loft a pass to Roberto Soldado, who needed just a single touch to convert.
Then, only six minutes later, he had an assist on Kane's match-winner.
Finally, it would seem, Lamela is beginning to look a player worth the more than £25 million Spurs paid for him last summer.
Loser: Lewis Holtby, Who Underwhelmed
If Lewis Holtby managed to impress against West Ham United on Saturday, he did the opposite in Larnaca on Thursday.
Not only did the 23-year-old struggle to create anything resembling a goalscoring opportunity, but he also delivered poor set piece after poor set piece.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, no doubt, will have taken note.
Winner: Harry Kane, Who Never Stopped Working
Harry Kane was the only Tottenham player to put in a complete, 90-minute effort on Thursday.
From the opening whistle, the 21-year-old was his side's most consistently dangerous attacker, and after Adrian Sardinero's opener, it was he who looked to spark Tottenham's response.
Appropriately, he had a hand in Roberto Soldado's equaliser before netting the winner himself.
Winner: Adrian Sardinero, Who Shone for the Hosts
Adrian Sardinero was acquired by AEL Limassol during the summer after the Cypriot side lost two of their top goal-scorers following a second-place finish last season.
They may have trouble holding on to him beyond the current campaign.
The 23-year-old, who came through the ranks at Getafe, looked comfortable on the ball throughout the match and opened the scoring in the 14th minute.
He then created a quality chance for himself with 10 minutes remaining in the first half but was denied by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Loser: Paulinho, Who Didn't Make a Mark
Paulinho's excellent Confederations Cup in 2013 was followed by a big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur and a mostly disappointing season.
He then had a very poor World Cup for Brazil and returned to the Spurs setup a shadow of the player who had helped Corinthians win the Club World Cup in 2012.
On Thursday, Paulinho was a passenger, and the AEL players found him far too easy to beat in the centre of the park.
Winner: Roberto Soldado, Who Needed a Goal
Before his equaliser, Roberto Soldado racked up a series of improbable misses in typical Roberto Soldado style.
Then he required just a single touch to convert Erik Lamela's clipped pass into goal.
In other words, Thursday's was the sort of match in which the Spaniard so frustrates. At one moment he can be missing a sitter; the next he can be finding the back of the net.
No doubt his 74th-minute strike will have done his confidence a world of good, and his club could well reap some short-term benefits as a result.
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