Erik Lamela needed just 35 minutes on Thursday to grab the first hat-trick of his career as Tottenham cruised past Monaco to ensure top spot in Group J of the Europa League. Tottenham’s 4-1 victory at White Hart Lane, completed with a stylish goal from Tom Carroll, means they finish three points ahead of Anderlecht, and will avoid the Champions League dropouts in the last 32 next February. Monaco, meanwhile, quarterfinalists in the Champions League last season, have been eliminated.
It was Lamela, who continues to thrive in the Europa League, who did the damage. Already with two goals in the competition, including one in Monaco, coming into the final round of fixtures, the Argentine forward needed less than two minutes to get on the scoresheet on Thursday. Not for the last time, it was Spurs’ trademark pressing under Mauricio Pochettino that proved the undoing of the visitors from Ligue Un. After winning the ball back on the edge of Monaco’s box, Tottenham scythed through their opponents at pace, ending with left-back Ben Davies pulling back for Lamela to coolly convert from 10 yards.
Already guaranteed a place in the next round and with a Premier League match against Newcastle United awaiting on Sunday, Pochettino elected to leave top scorer Harry Kane on the bench. And Tottenham didn’t miss the England international on this night, with Clinton N’Jie, Son Heung-min and 18-year-old Josh Onomah all impressing going forward.
But it was Lamela who supplied the scoring touch. Admittedly, he got a large helping hand for his second goal, in the 15th minute, when his strike from 20 yards was allowed to squirm through the grasp of Monaco goalkeeper Daniel Subasic and into the bottom corner of the net. Carroll, who also impressed in a rare outing in midfield, soon came close to providing a third with a curling effort just wide, but Lamela would not take long to complete his hat-trick. Intense pressing again set Tottenham on their way, winning the ball back, before N’Jie fed Son, who laid in Lamela, and the 23-year-old’s confidence was evident in him striking past Subasic with his weaker right foot.
Onomah was denied a first goal for the club by a close-range save from Subasic, and Monaco finally had something to cheer just past the hour mark. On-loan from AC Milan, Stephan El Shaarawy provided a reminder of his quality by just beating Hugo Lloris from 20 yards with a fine curling effort.
But, fittingly, the last word was reserved for Tottenham. Carroll has struggled to prove himself at White Hart Lane after a series of loan moves, but he showed the ability he so obviously possessed by taking a blocked shot under his spell, cleverly beating a defender and then squeezing a shot past Subasic from the tightest of angles.