His beaming smile and over-zealous clench with Serge Aurier summed it up perfectly. Finally, Fernando Llorente has lift off.
On his 17th appearance since joining from Swansea for £12million, Llorente scored his first Tottenham goal as the Premier League side finished their Champions League group campaign with a routine win over APOEL Nicosia.
His first port of call was to give Aurier, who provided the assist, the warmest of embraces. Llorente needed that. It’s been a long-time coming.
Fernando Llorente pumps his fist after scoring his first Tottenham goal after being handed a start in the Champions League
Son Heung-Min curled home a wonderful second goal before the break after a neat interchange with Llorente
The two goalscorers celebrate Son’s strike to make it 2-0 as Tottenham eased to victory over the Cypriot side at Wembley
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou takes the acclaim from Dele Alli after the Frenchman made the score 3-0 to Tottenham late on
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, MATCH ZONE AND TABLE
TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1): Vorm 6; Aurier 7, Foyth 6.5, Sanchez 7, Rose 6.5 (Walker-Peters 70, 6); Sissoko 6.5, Winks 7; N’Koudou 7, Alli 7 (Sterling 88), Son 7 (Dembele 65, 6); Llorente 7.5.
Unused subs: Gazzaniga, Vertonghen, Davies, Amos.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 7
Bookings: Aurier, Rose
Goals: Llorente 20, Son 37, Nkoudou 80
APOEL NICOSIA (4-2-3-1): Nauzet Perez 5.5; Vouros 5.5, Rueda 5, Carlao 6, Roberto Lago 6; Vinicius 5 (Sallai 46, 5), Nuno Morais 5; Zahid 5, Ebelcilio 5.5, Aloneftis 5 (De Carmargo 75); Pote 6 (Antoniou 80).
Unused subs: Gudino, Alexandrou, Farias, Merkis.
Manager: Giorgos Donis 6.5
Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia) 6.5
Mauricio Pochettino believed he finally found the man to provide authentic competition for Harry Kane when he successfully hijacked Chelsea’s move for Llorente during the dying hours of last summer’s transfer window.
It’s not gone according to plan. But at least this is a start. For now, Kane needn’t be overly concerned. But with the monkey off his back, Llorente will feel he can finally settle into life as a Tottenham player.
‘Today was an amazing opportunity for me, I am very happy as I can help my team to win and this is the most important,’ said Llorente.
‘It’s difficult when you don’t have a lot of opportunities but you have to work to help the team.’
Son was in the thick of the action in the early stages after being given a chance in the No 10 role in a much-changed side
Danny Rose got the nod at left back; here the England international gets up above Ghayas Zahid to win a header
Spurs went desperately close to opening the scoring when Nkoudou saw his effort remarkably cleared off the line
Jesus Rueda was in exactly the right place to head the ball as the APOEL defence scrambled to keep the score at 0-0
Pochettino added: ‘I’m pleased for him. Players need time to adapt when they arrive to a new club. It’s important for him because strikers need to feel the net.’
With their place at the top of Group H guaranteed, the pressure was off for Pochettino’s men.
The Argentine rested a host of regulars; Kane, Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen among those given the night off as Llorente and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou were given rare starts.
It was not long before Tottenham were on the scoresheet, Llorente swivelling and shooting to earn his first goal for the club
APOEL keeper Nauzet Perez could do nothing about the Spanish striker’s effort and could only watch as it sailed past
Llorente, making his 17th appearance for Spurs, was clearly delighted to be off the mark for the club he joined in the summer
Harry Winks was stationed at the base of the Tottenham midfield; here he finds himself crowded out by two APOEL players
Dele Alli was one of few first-team regulars to play and was in the wars, pictured being fouled by Lorenzo Ebecilio
Parez had to be on high alert throughout the game with APOEL under pressure from the hosts; here he punches clear
Spurs’ stand-ins, stood up. The Cypriots admirably held on for 20 minutes but what followed was inevitable.
Llorente took the credit for Spurs’ opener, his touch and swivelled finish from eight yards was expertly executed. But Harry Winks’ vision to spread the play and Aurier’s subsequent cross is worthy of mention.
Unfortunately for APOEL, was the woeful marking from Rueda, who allowed Llorente the freedom of the area to fire home his landmark strike.
Llorente was also involved in Tottenham’s second, his touch teeing up Son Heung-min who stroked past Perez from the edge of the area in the 37th minute.
Son had to be precise with his shot if wanted to find the target but managed to bend it around two defender to score
The South Korean was the best player on the pitch in the first half and more than justified playing in golden boots
Juan Foyth was another fringe player to get a run out, he made just his third Spurs start and his first in the Champions League
Davinson Sanchez, who is about to start a three-game domestic ban, played in defence; here he keeps a close eye on the ball
How Pochettino must wish every day can be a Champions League day. This win completed an unbeaten group stage, that included Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, in which they have taken 16 out of a possible 18 points.
Their European form is in stark contrast to their domestic results, though. Four league games without victory is worrying Pochettino, even if he won’t admit it publicly.
Pochettino will hope this win represents a step in the right direction. Though, the real acid test will arrive when Stoke visit on Saturday.
Stathis Aloneftis and Serge Aurier collide on the flank as the Ivroian tries to nick the ball away from the APOEL man
Llorente had a chance to kill the game and bag a second goal but fluffed his lines when the ball fell his way late on
Nkoudou went close in the second half when he got in behind the APOEL defence and forced a good save from Parez
Rose was involved in a clash with Roland Sallai that saw both booked and left the Spurs man with a cut above the eye
Rose was withdrawn moments later and seemed to be involved in an exchange of words with boss Mauricio Pochettino
Credit to APOEL, they tried to mount a second half comeback – Mickael Pote squandering two decent chances early after the restart.
But Spurs were strolling in second gear, though Danny Rose was forced off with a cut eye that required four stitches following a collision with Roland Sallai.
Llorente completely missed his kick with the goal at his mercy in the 58th minute, Son fired a free-kick narrowly over the bar before N’Koudou, via a deflection, scored his first goal for Spurs since joining in August 2016 in the 80th minute as the Londoners cruised home.
Pochettino will hope it’s this easy when the Potters come to Wembley this weekend. Sorry Mauricio, you’re likely to be disappointed.