Tottenham pitch invaders
Three separate pitch invasions overshadowed a low-key game at TottenhamGetty Images

Tottenham Hotspur's passage into the Europa League last 32 was overshadowed by a temporary postponement after three separate first half pitch invasions jeopardied the completion of the win over Partizan Belgrade and leaves the club facing a hefty punishment from Uefa.

Benjamin Stambouli netted his first goal for Spurs but the result, which sees Mauricio Pochettino's side qualify ahead of their final game against Besiktas, was a peripheral issue to emerge from a bizarre night at White Hart Lane.

On three separate occasions during the first half individuals from the crowd, baring t-shirts with the headphone brand Bassbuds emblazoned on the front, forced a stoppage to the match after invading the pitch, with the third encroachment forcing referee Yevhen Aranovskiy to draw a halt to the game.

Both sets of players returned to complete the remainder of the game in which Spurs joined Everton in securing their place in the first knock-out round with their third victory of the group phase, but the match acted as a sideshow to the scenes in the first 45 minutes.

In addition to the pitch invasions, supporters in the home end unveiled an Albanian flag in the stands, which drew a reaction from their Serbian counterparts a month after both nations were involved in a bad-tempered European Championship qualifier which was stopped after a flag-baring drone sparked heated exchanges between both sets of players.

The incidents are likely to lead to a substancial punishment from European football's governing body Uefa and could yet see Tottenham play their next match on the continent behind closed doors after conditions in north London were not deemed safe for the match to continue.

Albania flag
Getty Images

Possessing the worst home league record in the Premier League this season, Spurs anticipated that the victory they needed to secure passage into the last 32 would be far from routine against the already eliminated, but runaway Serbian domestic leaders Partizan.

Hoping to improve on a run of one win in their last 10 matches against English opponents in Europe, Partizan began with top scorer Petar Skuletic leading the attack while Pochettino made five alterations from the win over 10-man Hull City.

Harry Kane was given a vote of confidence by being left on the bench ahead of the weekend visit of Everton, with Roberto Soldado leading the attack ahead of Brazilian Paulinho who was making his first start since October.

Though the hosts dominated the early going, Partizan posed a decent threat on the break and almost took a surprise lead after 10 minutes but Skuletic couldn't make contact with Petar Grbic's pinged cross.

Partizan may not have been the main protagonists in possession but they remained the more threatening and Lazovic should have given the lead after taking down Ilic's hooked ball, but after evading Kyle Naughton his cushioned volley went wide of Hugo Lloris' goal.

If Pochettino's continual barking from the touchline didn't speak volumes about Tottenham's start then the separate pitch invasions staged by two home supporters pointed towards an uncertain first half display which left the home side spluttering their way to the knock-out stage of Europe's second-tier club competition.

Skuletic's cross-shot went across the face of the Tottenham goal and Lloris smartly saved from Ninkovic prior to a third fan invading the pitch in the 41st minute, leading to the game being temporarily suspended for five minutes by Ukrainian referee Aranovskiy.

When the game did restart, Tottenham took less than four second half minutes to open the deadlock after Stambouli crashed home on the rebound after Soldado's effort had struck the inside the post.

The rest of the game went by largely without incident, though Harry Wilkins was handed his professional debut for Tottenham in the final moments, as the events of the first half and the imminent Uefa action lingered over the game.