Tottenham Hotspur’s passage into the Europa League last 32 was overshadowed by a temporary postponement after three separate first half pitch invasions jeopardied the completion of the win over Partizan Belgrade and leaves the club facing a hefty punishment from Uefa.
In addition to the three pitch invasions, supporters in the home end unveiled an Albanian flag in the stands, which drew a reaction from their Serbian counterparts a month after both nations were involved in a bad-tempered European Championship qualifier which was stopped after a flag-baring drone sparked heated exchanges between both sets of players.
Benjamin Stambouli netted his first goal for Spurs but the result, which sees Mauricio Pochettino’s side qualify ahead of their final game against Besiktas, was a peripheral issue to emerge from a bizarre night at White Hart Lane.
On three separate occasions during the first half individuals from the crowd, baring t-shirts with the headphone brand Bassbuds emblazoned on the front, forced a stoppage to the match after invading the pitch, with the third encroachment forcing referee Yevhen Aranovskiy to draw a halt to the game.
Both sets of players returned to complete the remainder of the game in which Spurs joined Everton in securing their place in the first knock-out round with their third victory of the group phase, but the match acted as a sideshow to the scenes in the first 45 minutes.
When the game did restart, Tottenham took less than four second half minutes to open the deadlock after Stambouli crashed home on the rebound after Soldado’s effort had struck the inside the post.
The rest of the game went by largely without incident, though Harry Wilkins was handed his professional debut for Tottenham in the final moments, as the events of the first half and the imminent Uefa action lingered over the game.