Five goals on the South Coast, a surprise night off in East London and progress in North Macedonia but not without another scare for Tottenham as they navigate through their maze of fixtures.
Erik Lamela fired Spurs ahead inside five minutes and yet they were in serious danger of losing their way when Shkendija conjured a fabulous equaliser in the second half.
Jose Mourinho summoned Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso from the bench and his trio of A-listers helped to secure a place in the Europa League play-off against Maccabi Haifa, in London, on Thursday.
Harry Kane completed the victory with a powerful header from a cross by Son Heung-min in the 79th minute on Thursday
Son Heung-min scored the second goal by converting the rebound after Lucas Moura’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper
The Tottenham attacking duo proved the difference as Spurs secure a place in the Europa League play-off vs Maccabi Haifa
There were nervous times during the match for Tottenham but their superiority showed through late on
Overall, it represents a good week for Mourinho, with momentum rolling after defeat against Everton on the opening day of the Premier League season, and Newcastle up next, on Sunday.
After the final whistle, Mourinho said: ‘It’s nice to win three in a row, even better, three in a row away from home. We just did our job, we didn’t play magnificent. We did our job, which is to qualify for the next round.’
Speaking about Shkendija, he added: ‘They are a good team that obviously plays at a different intensity to us. We started strong and the feeling was that we would kill the game, but we didn’t and they gave us a difficult match.
‘The fear we felt after the equaliser was fundamental and then the intensity was different and it was difficult for them to hold our attacking waves. They were well coached an organised, well balanced. I spoke with Pandev, he told me we would win here, and it wouldn’t be easy. He was right, we won and it was not easy.’
His strikers are among the goals and, although they should have been more clinical in Skopje, Tottenham are alive in all competitions, as they wait for the EFL decide what to do about their Carabao Cup tie at Leyton Orient, called off due to positive coronavirus results at the League Two club.
This had the hallmarks of a European stroll when Lamela collected a pass from Son inside a vacant penalty area and fizzed the ball past goalkeeper Kostadin Zahov, for his first goal since January.
Shkendija’s Valmir Nafiu fired a 20-yard drive into the top corner for the equaliser in the 55th minute against Tottenham
Winger Erik Lamela fired the visitors ahead early on in North Macedonia with a composed finish into the net
Son Heung-min teed up Erik Lamela, who picked his spot after being left unmarked inside the penalty area in fifth minute
After the scare in Bulgaria, against Lokomotiv Plovdiv, last week, it was a goal to soothe Tottenham’s nerves and help them settle into an early rhythm on a bumpy surface in Skopje.
Mourinho’s team dominated possession against timid Shkendija and created a glut of chances before halftime without managing to extend the lead.
Toby Alderweireld climbed high above two defenders only to head wide from a corner and Serge Aurier missed the target with a poor header at the near post from another corner.
Son struggled to stay onside and Dele Alli, on first outing since he was hauled off at half-time of the first day of the Premier League season against Everton, was heavily involved and seemingly determined to impress.
Alli latched onto a cross from Aurier but could not beat ‘keeper Zahov and saw another effort deflected wide after a strong and direct run at the heart of the Shkendija defence.
Lamela forced another save from Zahov, soon after the interval, and failed to connect when Harry Winks picked him out in front of goal with a clipped pass from midfield.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli returned to the starting XI after being limited to just 45 minutes this season
The Tottenham midfielder twice went close to scoring in the first-half but he was replaced after the home side equalised
Mourinho prowled on the touchline in his open-necked shirt, barking positive messages but painfully aware the inability to find the second goal left his team vulnerable.
The worst of his fears were realised when Shkendija conjured an equaliser with a fierce strike from Valjmir Nafiu.
Spurs were complacent as they failed to close down the threat and the team that finished third in Macedonia’s curtailed top flight last season passed the ball square from left to right.
When the move reached Nafiu, he took a touch and slammed a crisp drive into the top corner from just outside the penalty area.
Joe Hart had yet to make a save, he had barely touched the ball and yet he was picking the ball out of the net on his Tottenham debut.
Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn tries to force his way through the Shkendija defence in the first-half on Thursday night
Confidence surged through the Shkendija players and they almost caught Spurs on the break moments later.
Mourinho had seen enough and turned to his substitutes. Alli was among those replaced. Both Lamela and Kane missed with headers from excellent opportunities before Son scored the second.
Zahov parried a fierce shot from an angle by Moura and Son picked up the rebound and swept the ball high into the net.
Kane scored the third, headed in from a cross by Son. Panic over and Tottenham move on. It is more than 10 years since they failed to reach the group stages of a European campaign.
Jose Mourinho’s side enjoyed the bulk of the possession but they were briefly in trouble after Shkendija equalised
Goalkeeper Joe Hart made his debut for Tottenham following his arrival from Burnley this summer
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