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Friday 13 December 2013

Europa League: Spurs cruise through in style

Roberto Soldado scores hat-trick as Spurs ease into last 32 along with Swansea, who lost in St Gallen

  • Roberto Soldado celebrates his first hat-trick as a Spurs player against Anji Makachkala

Roberto Soldado scored a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur completed their sixth successive UEFA Europa League group victory with an emphatic win over Anji Makachkala, while Swansea City joined them in the round of 32 despite a narrow defeat by St Gallen. This meant that all six Barclays Premier League clubs have advanced into the knockout stages of UEFA club competition this season.

Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Anji Makachkala

Tottenham Hotspur completed their qualification for the knockout stage of the UEFA Europa League in style with a one-sided success against Anji Makachkala at White Hart Lane.

"A striker lives off goals and for Roberto to score three is going to be major for his confidence"
Andre Villas-Boas

Spurs never looked back once Soldado had given them the lead as in the seventh minute, and doubled his tally nine minutes later. Although the visitors pulled a goal back through Ewerton a minute before the interval, Lewis Holtby restored the Londoners' two-goal cushion with a sublime curling free-kick that flew in off the far post on 54 minutes and Soldado completed his treble from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining.

"It was difficult for both teams having qualified first and second already, so it was great attitude, spirit, attacking football, all very positive and a deserved performance for the fans who came here and those who watched on TV – I'm extremely happy," Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas told the club's website.

Villas-Boas was also pleased that Soldado collected his first hat-trick for the club he joined in the summer ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League match at home to Liverpool.

"It was important for him," the head coach said. "A striker lives off goals and for Roberto to score three is going to be major for his confidence. It's also important for him on a personal note. You could sense his satisfaction on the pitch and hopefully he'll take that confidence into the following fixtures."

St Gallen 1-0 Swansea City

Swansea City reached the last 32 for the first time despite slipping to a narrow reverse in Switzerland.

Marco Mathys scored the only goal of the game 10 minutes from time as St Gallen bowed out of the tournament on a high, but in the other Group A match Kuban Krasnodar's failure to beat Valencia meant Swansea safely advanced from the section as runners-up to the Spanish Liga side.

"We are there because we deserve it"
Michael Laudrup

"The final result is the most important thing – we are through," said Laudrup. "In a week or a couple of weeks, we won't think about how we got there, we just know that we are among the last 32.

"We are there because we deserve it. You can always say we could have done more but, overall, we are there because we got enough points."

Swansea and Spurs will learn their next opponents when the draw for the Round of 32 and the Round of 16 is made on Monday, 16 December, at midday. They will be joined in the draw by the other teams who finished first and second in their UEFA Europa League groups in addition to the teams who finished third in the UEFA Champions League.

UEFA Europa League results

Group A
St Gallen 1-0 Swansea City

Group K
Tottenham Hotspur
(Soldado 3, Holtby) 4-1 Anji Makachkala

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Key Points

  • Spurs and Swansea reach round of 32 of UEFA Europa League
  • Roberto Soldado scores first hat-trick for Spurs, while Swans progress despite defeat
  • Spurs' and Swans' progress means there will be six Barclays Premier League clubs in the knockout stages of UEFA club competition this season