Antwerp upsets Spurs to go top of Europa League group

The result was a second win for Belgian league leader Antwerp and puts itself top in Group J, three points ahead of Spurs and LASK of Austria.

Royal Antwerp players celebrate after winning their Europa League game against Tottenham Hotspur.

Belgian league leader Antwerp secured a shock 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in their Europa League clash on Thursday thanks to veteran striker Lior Refaelovs first-half goal.

The result was a second win for Antwerp and puts itself top in Group J, three points ahead of Spurs and LASK of Austria.

Antwerp dominated the first half and went ahead just before the half-hour mark after a defensive lapse by Ben Davies allowed Dieumerci Mbokani to steal away the ball and set up the Israel international for a solid finish.

Four substitutions at the start of the second half reflected the irritation of Spurs manager Jose Mourinho, but Antwerp continued to look the more dangerous despite the changes.

 

Straight after the break it took a last-ditch defensive lunge by Tottenhams Davinson Sanchez to deny the home side a second goal, before Mbokani had an easy chance at the back post in the 54th minute, but somehow managed to miss the target.

Simen Juklerod then forced Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to tip the ball over the crossbar as Antwerp kept creating chances, before missing a gilt-edged opportunity at the end of 72nd-minute breakaway.

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He outstripped the visiting defence and had only the goalkeeper to beat but shot wildly over.

In between, Harry Kane came on for Gareth Bale but the Spurs skipper was also unable to ignite a comeback as Antwerp proved defensively solid to hang on for the win.

Mourinho unimpressed by fringe players

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho said the disappointing performances of his fringe players in Thursday's 1-0 Europa League loss to Royal Antwerp would make it “very easy” to pick his team going forward.

Mourinho made nine changes to the lineup from Monday's 1-0 Premier League win at Burnley but Spurs fell behind inside 30 minutes after an error from defender Ben Davies allowed Antwerp forward Lior Refaelov to score from close range.

Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn, Giovani lo Celso and Carlos Vinicius were all replaced at halftime but the Spurs were unable to get back on level terms. It was their first defeat since losing 1-0 to Everton on the Premier League's opening weekend in September.

“I would like to have made 11 changes at halftime,” Mourinho told reporters. “I didn't make five as I was afraid of a long 45 minutes.

“I always like to think the players deserve an opportunity. We have a big squad with lots of good players,” he added.

“It's my responsibility to give them opportunities but it's also their opportunity to catch the chance with both hands and ask for more.

“Tonight shows my future choices are going to be very easy.”

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