LONDON, United Kingdom, Sep 24 – Tottenham had to ask for the goalposts to be changed ahead of their 3-1 win over Shkendija on Thursday to reach the final round of Europa League qualifying.
Son Heung-min and Harry Kane struck in the final 20 minutes to set up a playoff round tie at home to Maccabi Haifa next Thursday on an eventful night in Macedonia for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Mourinho said his goalkeepers noticed before the game that the goalposts at both ends of the ground were around five centimetres too small.
“I thought I had grown but then I realised the goal was 5 centimetres lower,” Mourinho posted on Instagram alongside a picture of him nearly stretching to reach the crossbar.
“The goalkeepers they live hours and hours in the goal so they know when the goals are not the right dimensions. I felt immediately something was wrong and we got the UEFA delegate to confirm and it was 5cm too small. We asked for goals to be replaced for goals of the right dimensions.”
Mourinho left Kane out among six changes from the side that swept aside Southampton 5-2 on Sunday, but needed to call on the England captain after Valjmir Nafiu’s blistering strike cancelled out Erik Lamela’s early opener.
Kane set up Son to score four times at Southampton and the South Korean’s scoring streak continued when he pounced on the rebound after Lucas Moura’s shot was saved to restore Tottenham’s lead.
The roles from the weekend were reversed 11 minutes from time when Kane powered home a header from Son’s cross.
AC Milan shrugged off the loss of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a positive coronavirus test to squeeze past Bodo Glimt 3-2 at the San Siro.
The Italian giants responded quickly to going a goal down as Hakan Calhanoglu struck twice either side of Lorenzo Colombo’s tap in at the far post.
But the Norwegians ensured Milan had to survive a nervy final half hour when Jens Petter Hauge’s long-range effort found the top corner.
Celtic had to wait until the final minute to break Riga’s resistence in Latvia as Mohamed Elyounoussi scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.
Neil Lennon’s men dominated possession and chances but looked set to go into extra-time until Southampton loanee Elyounoussi came off the bench to turn home the impressive Jeremie Frimpong’s cross.
“We missed a couple of really good chances to make life a little bit easier for us,” said Lennon.
“We had to wait a long time for the goal. Sometimes that happens in football. I thought we were excellent and our mentality was good.”
Celtic will travel to Sarajevo in the playoff round.
Rangers enjoyed a far more comfortable night as Ryan Kent starred in a 4-0 win away to Willem II.
Kent won a penalty, converted by James Tavernier, before scoring himself to give Steven Gerrard’s men a commanding half-time lead.
The former Liverpool winger then provided two assists for centre-backs Filip Helander and Connor Goldson to head home as Rangers set up a meeting with Galatasaray in the playoff round.
Sporting Lisbon ended Aberdeen’s European adventure with a 1-0 win in the Portuguese capital despite missing their manager and nine players due to positive Covid-19 tests.