Tottenham's Champions League campaign back on track with five-star victory over Red Star Belgrade

Sam Wallace
Son Heung-min celebrates scoring for Tottenham - Getty Images Europe

For the second time this season there was a Champions League hammering at the gleaming new stadium on Tottenham high road, although this time it was the club considered to be in the throes of an early-season crisis who were administering the medicine.

Tottenham Hotspur helped themselves to five goals, variously glanced, guided, rifled and rolled past the famous old Red Star and there could have been many more had the onslaught not slowed when Harry Kane scored his second with 20 minutes remaining. Three weeks earlier Bayern Munich had racked up seven Champions League goals against Spurs, the kind of total that tips a bad home defeat into something quite different and that memory has still not entirely been put to bed.

Where does this win leave Spurs? This was their first victory in three Champions League group games this season and only their second of any kind in their last eight matches. The opposition were astonishingly inadequate at times, and that has to be taken into consideration when assessing what a full-strength Spurs team achieved, but even so they were good to watch. Kane now has 15 goals in 15 games for club and country, and Son Heung-min was back to his best.

It means that the Champions League last 16 is now an achievable prospect if Spurs can beat Red Star Belgrade on Nov 6 in Serbia, where the opposition’s record makes them a very different prospect to the poorly-organised bunch who showed up in north London. “The competition does not wait for anyone,” Mauricio Pochettino said later of Spurs’ slow start to the Champions League this season, but in truth it has waited for them and, now they are aboard, second place is within their grasp.   

Before all that is Sunday’s trip to Liverpool where Pochettino declared his team ready to have “the confidence to go there and have a good performance” which is the very least that he will need against the side that beat them in the Champions League final in June. There was encouragement from the performance of Son, among others, who scored twice and was chasing his hat-trick when he departed on half a lap of honour around the pitch on 68 minutes.

The Korean can bring his side alive with his ability to run at the opposition and it helped that Red Star played the first half as if they were wandering the aisles of the new club shop. Big spaces everywhere in their midfield and slack marking at the back for which Spurs were grateful. When Son turned the former Swansea City midfielder Jose Canas inside out on seven minutes it suggested that some of the old verve was back.

It was also an evening when Pochettino could relax a little, knowing his midfield of Tanguy Ndombele and Moussa Sissoko were in complete control and the only regret that there might not have been more goals. It showed the difference a bit of confidence can make - that and an opponent who looked totally overawed. Red Star have got some decent results in their last two Champions League seasons, including the win over Liverpool last November and then a home victory over Olympiakos in the previous round of matches. Away from home they are much less than the sum of their parts.

Their small quorum of supporters, the 200 permitted by Uefa, seemed to make up for the absence of the rest. The club had been banned from selling ticket for racist chanting in July and that decision was thoroughly undermined by the presence of those whom Uefa had admitted – the fans who had stumped up for the most expensive tickets.

Harry Kane continued his goal scoring form this season with another two goals Credit: Getty Images

Kane headed in the corner from Erik Lamela on nine minutes, drifting away from the centre-back Milos Degenek. The second came when Son guided in Lamela’s back-post cross two minutes later, and really that was the tone of those opening stages. Spurs doing what they wanted to do and Red Star doing little more than stand around and admire them.

The strings were being pulled for the visitors, on the rare occasions when they were pulled, by the little German Marko Marin, he of six Chelsea performances in that turbulent 2012-2013 Stamford Bridge season when interim Rafael Benitez stepped in. There was briefly a chance for Marin, the ball ricocheting off him in the Spurs area. Moments before the break Marin slipped and Ndombele took it, driving forward before playing in Son to score his second.   

By the restart, Red Star looked even worse and there was chance after chance coming Spurs’ way, one of which was missed by Lamela when a Paulo Gazzaniga goalkick was brought down by Kane who played in Son to put it on a plate. Lamela finally got his goal when he spun on Serge Aurier’s cross from the right and tucked the ball away with his left foot. Kane stroked in a fifth goal on 77 minutes when the full-back Marko Gobeljic appeared not even to offer a challenge.

It was a disastrous performance from Red Star. The late Goran Bunjevcevic, who began his career at Red Star and subsequently played for Spurs for five years, was remembered at half-time and that tribute is what will endure about the evening for the club from Belgrade. Their current side’s efforts were best forgotten. As for Spurs, it will be something to build upon, although on Sunday comes that visit to Anfield and the respite could be brief if they allow standards to slip even a little.  


Bayern Munich fought back to beat Olympiakos

In the other match in this group, Bayern Munich now look set to top the group after just beating Olympiakos 3-2 away from home. That result is good news for Spurs as it gives them a little bit of a gap in second place.


Tottenham were excellent tonight

It should be said that Red Star were not up to much tonight but that being said Spurs were superb. They blow away the potentially tricky customers in the first 20 minutes. Son, Kane and Lamela were all very good as were the fullbacks.

Tottenham's European campaign is back on track.


FULL TIME! Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Spurs spread the ball around with little urgency, Red Star have given up pressing at this point.

Kane loses the ball but the referee then blows his whistle. Game over.


90+1 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

There are two minutes of added. 

Red Star win a corner down the right - can they finish with a flourish?

No. The corner is easily headed away. Another cross comes in from Marin but is tamely headed out for a goal kick.


90 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Davies plays Kane through on the left. Kane stops and starts ghosting past the defender. Kane's shot from a tight angle is blocked by the keeper for a corner. He could have squared that.

The corner is played short before being crossed in. Kane tries a high volley but the ball goes straight upwards. Spurs regain the ball, toying with Red Star on the edge of the box.

Red Star make a challenge and finally get their foot on the ball.


87 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Red Star pass the ball around the back, reluctant to attack and leave themselves open again. Spurs sit off them content with their nights work.


84 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Lo Celso is down again as Milunovic's flailing arm hits him in the face earning him a yellow card.

Spurs attack down the left but Son's cross is blocked. Aurier then gets the ball on the right - he plays in Kane who fires the ball across goal. Dier bursts into the six yard box but the shot goes wide. Very good link up play.


82 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

The energy has gone from this game as the result has been confirmed for quite some time. 

Lo Celso goes into a 50-50 and hobbles away. He looks okay but that would be a real shame on a great night for Spurs.


80 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Pavkov is played through down the right but he hits the bouncing ball over the bar. He has been lively since coming on.



78 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Well it has been comprehensive tonight. Spurs are set fair to get out of the group after a poor start to the competition.

Lo Celso is coming for Alli who has been quiet despite the scoreline. Good chance for the Argentine to show the fans what he can do here.


76 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Aurier crosses the ball in from the right hand side but it goes straight into the arms of Borjan.

Pavkov tries to play in Garcia but Sissoko gets to the ball first. He then has a chance to shoot at the other end but fails to pull the trigger.


Harry Kane moving up the ladder of English Champions League scorers


74 min: Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Kane is played through again and he goes for an outrageous chip which goes over the bar. 

Foyth is on for Vertonghen.


72 min: GOOOOAAAL! Tottenham 5 Red Star Belgrade 0

Ndombele plays in Kane to the left hand side of the goal. Kane takes his time, cutting onto his right before passing the ball past the keeper. Far, far too easy. Lovely ball through mind you.


70 min: Tottenham 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

Red Star go through but it is ruled offside.

Marin then gets a chance on the edge of the box. He nearly curls the ball in with his right foot but it just goes wide. Good effort from Red Star's captain.


68 min: Tottenham 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

Son whips in a curling cross with his left foot but Kane cannot quite get on the end of that. He should have got something on that.

Dier is coming on for Son who has been outstanding tonight. He gets rapturous applause from the fans.


66 min: Tottenham 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

Another chance for Spurs but Davies' shot is blocked. Son then does square it this time but the ball is intercepted and cleared.

Garcia dispossesses Vertonghen before playing a one-two with Marin. Garcia gets a shot away in the Spurs box but straight at Gazzaniga.


A goal on Erik Lamela's 200th appearance for Tottenham


64 min: Tottenham 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

Alli breaks through the middle but is tackled before he plays in a teammate. The ball should have been released there.

Son then nearly gets his third. He flicks the ball onto his right foot and almost bends it in. Kane is not happy, he wanted the ball laid off to him.


62 min: Tottenham 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

Red Star look like they have less men on the pitch - they don't but they are somehow leaving more space then 11 players on a pitch should.

A long ball from Red Star trickles out for a goal kick. Two subs are on for the away side - Petrovic and Pavkov on to add something up front.


59 min: Tottenham 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

And it could have been five. Another chance to score but the one on one from Lamela is saved. The ball almost trickles over the line but is cleared in time. 

Lamela looked offside so might not have counted if he had scored.


58 min: GOOOOOOAAAL! Lamela Tottenham 4 Red Star Belgrade 0

Tottenham come again. Aurier breezes past a defender and into the box. He squares it to Lamela who turns and hammers the ball past the keeper with his left foot. Powerful finish. Far too easy.


56 min: Tottenham 3 Red Star Belgrade 0

Spurs break down the right and Lamela is played in. He then passes the ball wide of the post - pass or shot? Either way he should have done better.

Marin then breaks for Red Star who have a chance. The shot from the edge of the box is straight at Gazzaniga. 


54 min: Tottenham 3 Red Star Belgrade 0

Red Star then get a chance to attack. They break into the box but the cross is deflected away. Spurs caught napping a bit there.

Son then breaks down the left, laying the ball back to Davies to cross. The ball is headed away.

Spurs come again. Kane crosses across the box and Son tries to volley the ball to Lamela in the six yard box but it can't find its target. Lovely play. Son was unselfish there.


51 min: Tottenham 3 Red Star Belgrade 0

Tottenham have started the half calmly, content to pass the ball around.

Out of nowhere Kane is released down the left and he whips in a wicked ball to the box but Lamela's volleys goes over the bar. What a cross from Kane's left foot.


49 min: Tottenham 3 Red Star Belgrade 0

Free kick to the away side in Tottenham's half but it comes to nothing. 

Spurs attack down the right before Lamela releases Davies down the left. His cross is met by a defender and the ball is cleared.


47 min: Tottenham 3 Red Star Belgrade 0

Red Star start the half brightly but the ball runs out for a goal kick. Pochettino looks very content with proceedings, as he should be.



Second half underway!

Spurs get us restarted in North London.


Will Red Star crumble?

Tottenham conceded 7 last time out in the Champions League. They could score 7 tonight if Red Star don't tidy up their control of possession. 


That half could not have gone much better for Tottenham...


Spurs needed that 45 minutes

Pochettino's side were impressive and started the game with real pace and energy.

Red Star have been sloppy on the other hand and poor for most of the match. They have struggled to maintain possession. They have had the occasional chance but have been outclassed on the whole.


HALF TIME! Tottenham 3 Red Star Belgrade 0

Marin has been good in this half but that was a bad mistake.

Red Star give possession away again but Spurs cannot capitalise this time. And that's the half. Clinical performance so far.


43 min: GOOOOOOAAAL! Son Tottenham 3 Red Star Belgrade 0

The Tottenham crowd have picked up the noise, bouyant with their team's return to form. 

Red Star control the ball on half-way, passing side to side. Marin is dispossessed by Ndombele who runs the ball to the edge of Belgade's box. He slides in Son who slots the ball to the left of the keeper with his left foot. Game over before half-time.


40 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Marin dribbles past two defenders before Vulic's shot is charged down before it goes anywhere. Kane then cleverly wins a foul after running between two defenders.



Erik Lamela has been the main creator tonight


38 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Aurier is unleashed down the right but his ball into the box cannot find Alli. Lovely movement from Spurs.


36 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Marin is down after a challenge from Son. Not too much in that. The former German international still looks a classy operator. He has made a few nice passes and is quick to turn on receiving the ball.

The tempo of this game has dropped right down.

Vulic hammers the ball in to the box and the ball almost deflects into the Spurs goal. That was very close! Would have been fortunate but Tottenham are certainly not as alert as they were in the first 20.


34 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Spurs start to attack again, spreading the ball around Red Star's half with good pace and confidence. 

Pochettino will be pleased with the opening 30 minutes or so even if they have let Belgrade get into the game a little.


32 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Another chance for Red Star! A shot from the right side of the box is tipped over the bar. Spurs have taken their foot of the gas here. They need some possession sharpish. 

Marin takes a corner but the header from Tomane finds Gazzaniga - easy catch for Hugo Lloris' long-term replacement.


30 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Garcia and Marin are starting to get more involved in this game, linking up nicely. A flick on from Marin is intercepted on the edge of the Spurs box.

Some sustained territory and possession for the Serbian side here. Aurier commits a foul in a dangerous position. Big chance for Belgrade to whip the ball in.

Aurier clears with a diving header - made up for the foul with that acrobatic clearance.


27 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Red Star attack down the right and a looping cross is headed toward goal. Tame effort but Gazzaniga spills the ball. Luckily the ball finds a Tottenham player. Dodgy keeping.

Belgrade attack again but a speculative half-volley from Garica goes comfortably over the bar.


Here is Son Heung-min's superb goal


25 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

This game has calmed down a little with both sides happy to pass the ball around. 

Spurs then attack and Davies finds Lamela in the box. His shot is tipped wide for a corner. Needed a bit more power on that.

Once again Lamela's corner finds the first man.


Son Heung-min has been deadly at their new stadium


23 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Ndombele hits the ball hard and low and the ball is pushed away by Borjan. A cross then comes in but Son is beaten in the air. Corner to the home side.

Lamela's corner is cleared away with ease.


21 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Another attacking free kick for Red Star hits the wall. The follow-up cross finds a blue shirt but the header goes high and wide. This is more like it from Red Star who are starting to press with a bit more intensity.


Harry Kane loves the group stages of the Champions League


19 min: Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

Free kick to Red Star in a good position falls to Spurs who counter with a man advantage. Son tries to find Aurier on the right but the ball goes out for a throw-in. That was another chance, Belgrade had a lot of men forward there.


17 min: GOOOOOOAAAL! Son Tottenham 2 Red Star Belgrade 0

This was coming. Lamela is played in down the right, he cuts back onto his left foot and crosses into the back post where Son attacks the ball on the half-volley hammering it home. Lovely goal.

Crisis, what crisis?


15 min: Tottenham 1 Red Star Belgrade 0

The Serbian side keep giving away the ball every time they get it which is allowing Spurs to dominate with ease.

Son works down the left and gets a low cross in but the ball finds its way to the keeper.

Red Star finally attack and a cross is put in from deep. The ball finds Vulic on the volley but his cross doesn't find a blue shirt. Better from Belgrade.


12 min: Tottenham 1 Red Star Belgrade 0

Tottenham attack again and Kane weaves his way into the box, getting away a gentle shot at goal. Spurs look very dangerous already. Red Star look a little out of their depth so far.


10 min: GOOOOAAAAL! Kane Tottenham 1 Red Star Belgrade 0

Corner to Spurs. Lamela whips the ball in and Kane flicks the ball across goal with his head and into the corner. Great movement and finish from the skipper! That is the start they needed. Not much celebration from Spurs. Very business like.


7 min: Tottenham 0 Red Star Belgrade 0

Son is looking exactly like a player nominated for the Ballon d'Or should. He looks so threatening every time he touches the ball. He has played a couple of nice one-twos with Kane in the early stages.

Red Star win a free kick on half-way.


5 min: Tottenham 0 Red Star Belgrade 0

Marin has started to get his foot on the ball, spreading the play with obvious class. Red Star need some early possession to settle the nerves.

Foul to Tottenham in their half which they take quickly, passing the ball around the defence. Kane and Son link up well and the South Korean star breaks into the box but his right footed shot is tame and right at the keeper. He normally scores those.


3 min: Tottenham 0 Red Star Belgrade 0

Spurs regain the ball and attack brightly. Son plays in Kane who has a chance in the box. He turns right then left but falls to ground before shooting. Big chance that. 


2 min: Tottenham 0 Red Star Belgrade 0

Spurs regain possession and start confidently attacking down the left through Son. 

Red Star win back the ball and drive up the left hand side winning a throw-in by the Tottenham box.


Kick off!

Here we go! Red Star get us underway.


They are a little behind schedule in North London

The iconic Champions League music has just subsided, handshakes exchanged. 


5 minutes to go

The players are in the tunnel ready to emerge following a dazzling light show which really shows-off Tottenham Hotspur's new age stadium. There are expected to be a few empty seats around the ground tonight.


Red Star have European pedigree

The Serbian side won the European Cup in 1991, beating Marseille on penalties in the final, and were UEFA Cup runners-up in 1979.

However, this is just their second year in the group stage of the Champions League since its change of format and they finished well adrift at the bottom of Group C last season.

That being said, they have already beaten Olympiakos this season and last season their only victory did come against eventual champions Liverpool.


The Spurs team look focused as they went out to warm-up


A win for Tottenham tonight would put them back on track for the knockout stages

Spurs would jump ahead of Red Star and into poll position to qualify out of the group with Bayern Munich if they get all three points.

They would be only the second team to concede seven goals in a UEFA Champions League group stage match and go on to progress to the next round - Deportivo de La Coruña lost 8-3 to Monaco in the 2003-04 and went on to reach the semi-final.


The atmosphere is starting to build at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium


Red Star Belgrade are not used to losing

Unlike Spurs, Red Star have enjoyed a fine start to the domestic season and are four points clear at the top of the Serbian Super Liga. They have won 10 of their 11 games, with their only loss in the Belgrade derby to Partizan.

Red Star have dominated domestically finishing out of the top two in the league only twice in the last 32 years.

It should also be remembered that they sit above Spurs in the group having beat Olympiakos - a side Tottenham could only draw against. 


Ballon d'Or nominee on show

Son Heung-min made the 30 player shortlist for the Ballon d'Or yesterday. The South Korean star was on the bench against Watford and immediately made a difference when he came on, bringing some pace and energy to the side.

Son will be looking to show off why he deserved that nomination tonight.

Hugo Lloris also made the shortlist but the French goalkeeper is still unavailable after sustaining a long-term shoulder injury against Brighton.

Son Heung-min has scored one goal in the Champions League so far this season Credit: REX


Tottenham's defence is in the record books for all the wrong reasons


Can Harry Kane find some form?

The England captain has been in goal scoring form without being at his best this season. Kane has netted five times in the Premier League and twice in two Champions League games.

Kane has an impressive record in the Champions League group stages. He has scored 14 goals in 16 UEFA Champions League group stage matches since Kane’s debut in the competition in September 2016. In that time only Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski (19) have scored more goals in the group stages.

The Spurs skipper will be looking to lift his side tonight after a challenging start to the season. A vintage clinical performance would do his side and his manager a world of good.

Harry Kane cut a frustrated figure during his side's 1-1 draw at home to Watford on Saturday Credit: PA


Blast from the past: Marko Marin

Red Star Belgrade are captained by former Chelsea player and German international Marko Marin.

Marin was a star at Werder Bremen before moving to Chelsea and has been with the Serbian club since 2018.

He has shown excellent form in the Champions League recently being involved in six goals in his last six UEFA Champions League matches (1 goal, 5 assists), assisting twice in their 3-1 win over Olympiakos.

Marko Marin won 16 caps for Germany and was part of their World Cup squad at the 2010 World Cup Credit: REX



Changes for Spurs

Tottenham made four changes for tonight's clash.

Ben Davies, Tanguy Ndombele, Erik Lamela and Son Heung-min come into the side, with Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose left out of the matchday squad all together.

Giovani Lo Celso features on the bench for the first time since September with fit-again Christian Eriksen also among the substitutes.

Red Star named former Chelsea midfielder Marko Marin and ex-Huddersfield winger Rajiv Van La Parra in their starting line-up.


The teams have been announced


Gazzaniga (GK), Vertonghen, Sánchez, Son, Kane (C), Lamela, Sissoko, Alli, Aurier, Ndombélé, Davies

Red Star Belgrade:

Borjan (GK), Degenek, Vulić, Marin (C), García, Tomané, Milunović, Rodić, Gobeljić, Cañas, Van la Parra


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Red Star Belgrade will be without any travelling fans

The visitors will not have any fans in attendance as they were banned from selling tickets after being found guilty of racism by UEFA.

"This is the 21st century, it is distasteful to talk about this issue," said Red Star Belgrade manager Vladan Milojevic.

"I absolutely condemn any racist behaviour.

"On the other hand I would love to see our supporters here, they really do help us, we feel better when they are around.

"I am a man of sport and I simply don't really talk about this, but if you are asking me if I condemn this sort of behaviour, I absolutely do."

Red Star Belgrade manager Vladan Milojevic condemned racist behaviour while acknowledging a lack of support would makes thing harder for his team Credit: PA


Match Preview

Tottenham have a chance to regain some much needed form when they take on Red Star Belgrade in the third round of Champions League group games. Spurs have struggled recently and were beaten 3-0 by Brighton before the international break before earning a controversial point at home to Watford on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side have had a disappointing start in Europe gaining one point from two games. Tottenham drew 2-2 away at Olympiakos in round one before being humiliated 7-2 at home to Bayern Munich last time out. Tottenham became the first English team to have lost by five goals in a home European match in any competition.

However, a win tonight would put Tottenham back on track for qualification to the knockout stages which would be a minimum given the opposition in the group. 

Last season’s beaten finalists face a team in Red Star Belgrade who are in form. They have won their last five games including a 3-1 victory over Olympiakos in the Champions League which has left the Serbian side second in the group. 

Their away form, however, is less promising. Belgrade have lost all four of their away UEFA Champions League matches, scoring twice and conceding 16. The last team to lose their first five away matches in the competition were Malmö FF back in 2015.

These two sides do have a distant history as Spurs met Red Stae in the Last 16 of the 1972-73 UEFA Cup, winning 2-0 at White Hart Lane and losing 1-0 away but progressing 2-1 on aggregate.

Under pressure Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino answered questions about his future before the match.

"Our performance is not as good as we can deliver," Pochettino told reporters. 

"Of course we need to improve. On the other side there are all of the rumours that happen at any club when you don't win but it doesn't mean they're true.

"I understand this business. I'm 47 - why do you think I don't have grey hair? Because I don't pay attention to any of this. I only pay attention that we need to improve our performances.

"If we don't improve our performance, what is going to be the result? It's always the same in football and you are thinking the same as me."