Harry Kane fires Tottenham into Europa League Conference groups on return to side

England captain scores twice on his first start of the season as Spurs overturn first leg deficit

Tottenham Hotspur manager Nuno Espirito Santo said he never doubted Harry Kane's commitment after the England captain returned to the starting XI to fire his team into the Europa Conference League group stage on Thursday.

Trailing Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira 1-0 from the play-off first leg, Spurs ran out 3-0 winners at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Kane scoring twice. Giovani Lo Celso scored the third to put the result beyond doubt and send Tottenham into the group phase of Uefa's inaugural third-tier club competition.

England striker Kane had wanted to leave Spurs in the close season for Manchester City, but was denied a move by club chairman Daniel Levy and confirmed earlier this week he would be remaining in north London.

He had missed Tottenham's first two games of the campaign to regain full fitness after captaining England on their run to the Euro 2020 final, but made a substitute appearance in a 1-0 win at Nuno's former club Wolves last weekend.

"I see Harry every day since he joined us, every day. He doesn't have to prove (anything) to anyone," Nuno said. "He's committed. You can see.

"All the situations that have happened, are part of the past, let's look and move forward, but I see him every day."

Santo gave Kane his first start since taking over as manager and also named him as captain with usual skipper Hugo Lloris rested.

The 28-year-old striker made an almost immediate impact, levelling the tie in the ninth minute by collecting Bryan Gil's pass and slotting home.

Kane pounced on a loose ball in the box to put Spurs in control 10 minutes before half-time, to the delight of the home fans who had sung his name at Molineux when his future was still uncertain.

Lo Celso then struck in the second half and Kane was replaced by Son Heung-min with 18 minutes left.

"He (Kane) is still improving," Nuno said. "But playing is the best way for all players to improve, to compete and the edge of the game is what takes players beyond their limits and that is what we expect from all of them."

Roma cruise into group stage

Jose Mourinho's Roma eased into the group phase with a 3-0 second-leg victory over Trabzonspor at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Italian side wrapped up a 5-1 aggregate success to book their spot in Friday's draw and give Mourinho a third straight win since taking charge.

Roma, who also won their Serie A opener against Fiorentina at the weekend, put the tie beyond their Turkish visitors' reach with Bryan Cristante's 20th-minute strike.

Nicolo Zaniolo and substitute Stephan El Shaarawy both scored in the second half as Roma progressed with the minimum of fuss.

French club Rennes also cruised through, winning 3-1 over Rosenborg in Norway for a 5-1 aggregate success.

Maximilian Wittek's double helped the Netherlands' Vitesse Arnhem edge out Anderlecht 2-1 and 5-4 on aggregate, while FC Copenhagen thrashed Sivasspor 5-0 in the Danish capital after a 2-1 first-leg win.

Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar reached the group stage of a European competition for the first time, beating Riga in extra time.

Europa League play-offs

In the Europa League play-offs, Fenerbahce saw off HJK 6-2 on aggregate, winning 5-2 in Finland, while Rapid Vienna beat Zorya Luhansk 3-2 in Ukraine after last week's 3-0 first-leg victory.

Scottish giants Celtic held on for a 3-2 aggregate win over AZ Alkmaar despite losing in the Netherlands.

Kyogo Furuhashi's brilliant start to life in Glasgow since signing from Kashima Antlers continued with his seventh goal for Celtic.

AZ hit back to lead on the night before half-time, but a 2-1 defeat was enough for Celtic to give their new era under Ange Postecoglou another boost after an impressive start to the season since the former Australia boss took charge.

Steven Gerrard's Rangers also edged into the group stage, beating Alashkert 1-0 on aggregate after a goalless draw in Armenia.

Updated: August 27th 2021, 5:36 AM
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