PARIS (AFP) - Tottenham Hotspur won 2-0 against Tromso in the bitter chill of Norway on Thursday to seal first place in Europa League Group K and ease a little of the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Reports in England in recent days suggest that the Portuguese is hanging on to his job after last Sunday's 6-0 hammering by Manchester City in the Premier League, and another substandard performance on the trip north of the Arctic Circle would have done him few favours, even if Spurs were already through to the last 32 before this game.
Michael Dawson and Roberto Soldado were the only two players to keep their place in the team from the Manchester City debacle, and the much-changed Spurs side had to wait until the second half before finally breaking down a team who were recently relegated to the Norwegian second tier.
The opener at the Alfheim Stadion did not come until the 63rd minute, when Adnan Causevic turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Vlad Chiriches, and the London club doubled their advantage when Gylfi Sigurdsson set up Mousa Dembele to fire home from 12 yards with 14 minutes remaining.
Dembele struck the post soon after but the 2-0 scoreline was enough to maintain Tottenham's perfect record in Group K and boost confidence ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester United.
Anzhi Makhachkala are also through to the last 32 after a 1-1 draw at home to Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova in Russia, and a host of clubs sealed qualification elsewhere.
French giants Olympique Lyonnais, who have endured a difficult start to the season, recorded a narrow 1-0 win at home to Spanish top-flight strugglers Real Betis with Bafetimbi Gomis coming off the bench to score the only goal of the Group I game in the second half at the Stade de Gerland.
Despite the defeat, Betis are also through, their superior head-to-head record against Vitoria Guimaraes - who drew 0-0 with Rijeka in Croatia - guaranteeing them at least second spot.
Genk of Belgium are through with a game to spare in Group G after a 3-1 victory at home to Dynamo Kiev, while Lazio's 2-0 defeat of Legia Warsaw in Poland means they join Trabzonspor in advancing from Group J.
Former Uefa Cup finalists AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands and PAOK of Greece are now through from Group L while Sevilla are certain to progress from Group H despite only managing a 1-1 home draw with Estoril in Spain.
Among the later games on Thursday, Swansea City entertain Valencia at the Liberty Stadium looking for the point that will see them secure their berth in the knockout phase.