Young winger Andros Townsend gave England’s Aaron Lennon food for thought with a starring role in Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-0 win at Dinamo Tbilisi in the Europa League on Thursday.
In a startling display, Townsend scored the opener and then set up Brazil’s Paulinho to open his Spurs account, before laying a third on a plate for Roberto Soldado.
Soldado bagged another, while young leftback Danny Rose scored his first for Spurs since netting on his debut against Arsenal in April 2010.
Townsend’s pinpoint crossing was in itself telling for a player who may be looking to displace Lennon in the north Londoners’ first team this season, given the diminutive former Leeds United winger’s own failings when centering from out wide.
The result in the playoff first-leg tie has all but rendered next week’s second leg at White Hart Lane in London meaningless and should see the English Premier League side safely into the Europa League group stages.
Townsend started off the rout when latching onto a ball cleared from Tottenham’s box following a Dinamo corner.
Kyle Naughton played the ball to Townsend, who raced half the length of the pitch before firing low past goalkeeper George Loria from long range on 11 minutes.
“I was delighted to score and that’s what I have to do when I get my chance, score goals and make assists,” the 22-year-old Londoner said. “We were professional, saw the game out and scored a lot of goals. We played well.”
Iceland international midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson almost doubled the advantage when curling a free-kick from outside the penalty area into the side-netting, but the second goal did come two minutes before the break.
Naughton, again, released the lively Townsend down the right with a delicately chipped pass and the winger turned inside his marker before picking out Paulinho’s late run into the box with a perfect dinked cross, allowing the Brazilian to head home from close range.
Townsend was at it again when he scampered down the right on 57 minutes, using his pace to reach the byline before picking out Soldado for a simple tap-in at the near post.
It could have been more when Paulinho lost his bearings with an overhead-kick after Townsend’s delightful chip picked him out.
The respite for Dinamo was brief, though, as Rose curled the pick of the bunch into the top corner from long range on 65 minutes, while three minutes later Soldado had another tap-in from close range after substitute Nacer Chadli’s fizzing cross from the left.
It could have been six seven minutes from time, but young substitute Harry Kane’s header from another inviting Chadli cross came back off the post.
It was a great night for the English Premier League as Swansea City also trounced Romanian side Petrolul Ploiesti 5-1 in south Wales.
Wayne Routledge started the ball rolling, scoring a pair of first-half goals either side of Spaniard Michu’s toe poke from close range.
Ploiesti’s Brazilian goalkeeper Picanha scored an unfortunate own-goal to compound matters in the second half, elbowing the ball over the line after he had initially saved Wilfried Bony’s near-post flick.
Alejandro Pozuelo rounded off matters 20 minutes from time with a clever dink over the grounded Picanha after Michu’s through ball, but the goal of the night came from Ploiesti’s Gheorge Grozav three minutes from time with a stunning overhead-kick from the edge of the area that earned him a standing ovation from the Swansea crowd.
In other playoff matches, Jorge Molina and Cedric scored as Real Betis Balompie triumphed 2-1 at FK Baumit Jablonec of the Czech Republic, for whom Jan Kopic hit the net.
Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kiev won 3-2 at Kazakhstan’s Aktobe, while Russian side Rubin Kazan won 2-0 at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Molde FK.
Former European Cup winners Feyenoord lost 1-0 at Russian side Kuban Krasnodar, while French side AS Saint-Etienne, finalists in 1975-1976, were beaten 4-3 by Denmark’s Esbjerg fB.