Tottenham make sure of Europa League progress with draw in Austria
Spurs struggled and were denied victory by a late equaliser.
Tottenham secured their passage into the Europa League knockout stage with a game to spare, but only after an off-colour showing in a 3-3 draw away to LASK in Group J.
Penalties from Gareth Bale and substitute Dele Alli sandwiched Son Heung-min’s 12th strike of the season on a difficult night for Spurs in Austria.
The hosts were worthy of a point while questions could be asked of one-time England goalkeeper Joe Hart for two of the LASK goals.
He could do nothing about Mamoudou Karamoko’s wonderful equaliser in the third minute of added time at the end of the contest – and despite drama aplenty, Jose Mourinho’s side did enough and can now focus on Sunday’s derby with Arsenal.
Injuries meant forwards Harry Kane and Carlos Vinicius were absent at Linzer Stadion and Tottenham’s manager picked three players from last weekend’s stalemate at Chelsea.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Tanguy Ndombele and Son retained their starting berths while Alli had to settle for a spot on the bench as Bale and Lucas Moura were given opportunities to impress again.
The Welshman had disappointed in the 4-0 win over Ludogorets last time out and he was at fault early on when Dominik Thalhammer’s men hit the post in the sixth minute.
Not long after Davinson Sanchez’s block had denied Thomas Goiginer, Johannes Eggestein was afforded too much space and he struck a low effort against the woodwork from the edge of the area.
LASK’s wing-back continued to roam free and Rene Renner forced Hart into an excellent save with 31 minutes on the clock.
Bale did signal his intent with three shots in quick succession, but none troubled the home goalkeeper and it was no surprise when LASK took the lead three minutes before half-time.
Matt Doherty slipped and although Spurs regrouped to thwart the counter-attack, Peter Michorl was allowed to strike from range and his effort moved in the air and dipped to beat Hart from 30 yards.
Tottenham’s blushes were spared on the stroke of half-time though when, in one of their first genuine attacks of the match, Moura got to the byline and crossed for Ndombele, who had a shot blocked by Andres Andrade’s arm.
Referee Pawel Raczkowski did not hesitate in pointing to the spot and Bale took the responsibility, sending Alexander Schlager the wrong way to score the 200th goal of his career and his second at Spurs since he returned on loan from Real Madrid in September.
Mourinho saw his players go ahead for the first time in the 56th minute.
LASK captain James Holland gave away possession and Ndombele threaded a perfect pass into the path of Son, who raced into the area and slotted home his second goal in the competition this season.
Both were against the same opposition and the South Korean should have had another eight minutes later – but Bale’s pass was behind his team-mate with the goal at his mercy.
Mourinho made changes afterwards and Eric Dier’s introduction saw the visitors switch to a back five and yet it did not have the desired effect with LASK equalising in the 84th minute.
Sanchez tried to step up and was caught out by a fine Andrade pass, which allowed Eggestein time to take aim and his low strike slipped through Hart and into the bottom corner.
Another penalty seemed set to get the Premier League leaders out of jail.
Substitute Steven Bergwijn was brought down in the area by Philipp Wiesinger and Alli – four minutes after he was introduced – slotted down the middle with four minutes left.
It was not the end of the action, however, with LASK claiming the point their performance warranted in time added on when Karamoko brilliantly curled into the corner from outside the area.
However, Tottenham still qualified for the last 32 and know a victory at home to Royal Antwerp next Thursday will ensure they progress in top spot.