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Tottenham Hotspur eased into the Europa League last 16 after sweeping aside Fiorentina with an accomplished performance at White Hart Lane. Ryan Mason and the returning Erik Lamela scored in either half before Gonzalo Rodriguez's own goal sealed it as the north London club successfully coped without top scorer Harry Kane.
Mauricio Pochettino's team were never really in danger of not progressing after they took the lead on the night and in the tie following the mid-way point in the opening 45 minutes. Ryan Mason, making his first home start since November, latched onto Dele Alli's poked pass to stroke home with aplomb.
Fiorentina provided a brief threat through Josip Ilicic but a combination of dogged defending and clinical finishing eventually saw Tottenham outlast the visitors. Nacer Chadli was denied by Ciprian Tatarusanu but Lamela was on hand to continue his fine European form with a delicate finish. Kieran Trippier's cross with 10 minutes remaining was then put through his own net by Rodriguez to end a woeful night for the listless Serie A side.
Victory sees Tottenham complete a trio of Premier League clubs in the draw of the round of 16 on Friday [26 February], after narrow wins for Liverpool and Manchester United. Pochettino's men return to domestic matters against Swansea City this weekend but know their pursuit of silverware and Champions League qualification will be two pronged going into the closing months of the campaign.
Having been dumped out of the FA Cup, Spurs were keen to ensure that a first defeat since October did not lead to a terminal run of form which could derail their season. A crucial away goal in Florence had ensured they had one foot in the round of 16 but in the absence of leading marksman Kane they had much to do on home turf.
Though without Kane and Mousa Dembele, Hugo Lloris was recalled after a shoulder injury and Lamela following a brief illness - an indication Pochettino was not ready to allow Premier League demands take over the season. Despite having had their new stadium approved by Boris Johnson prior to the game, they did not share the London mayor's appetite to leave Europe.
Paulo Sousa's side had knocked out the Premier League team 12 months previous and were looking to repeat their victory in north London from 17 years ago when they overcame Arsenal in the Champions League. The Italians, third in Serie A, made three alterations from the first leg the most significant of which saw former Blackburn forward Nikola Kalinic return to lead the attack.
Though both sides had displayed plenty of intent in the first leg, neither showed the incisiveness or quality required in the opening exchanges. Dele Alli failed to make contact with Erir Dier's flick, Ilicic tested Lloris from fully 35 yards and Christian Eriksen forced Tatarusanu into a comfortable save; yet there was a lack of flow to a contest bathed in early nerves.
In keeping with a disjointed start to the game, the home side took the lead in bizarre circumstances. Ben Davies' hopeful ball forward evaded Nacer Chadli but when Alli got to the ball before Nenad Tomovic the ball fell to the onrushing Mason who cooly slotted beyond Tatarusanu.
The goal gave Tottenham the lead on the night but changed little in the context of the tie with Sousa's side still requiring a goal to keep their hopes in the competition alive. Though they threatened through the probing runs of Ilicic and Federico Bernardeschi, the English top flight's meanest defence held firm.
The 1990 runners-up began the second half as the dominant force but were kept at an arms length by Tottenham with Bernardeschi's wild effort the closest they came before the tie was put beyond their reach. Tatarusanu kept out Chadli's effort but after Eriksen kept the ball alive, Lamela swept home on the turn for his 11th European goal of the season.
If the second goal did not put the tie beyond doubt then the third via the outstretched boot of Rodriguez certainly did. The evening was partially soured from a Tottenham perspective with the booking of Alli for diving - the latest incident of ill-discipline from the England international - which rules him out of the first leg of the next round but little could in truth detract from another complete performance.