LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has backed summer signing Fernando Llorente to add to his Tottenham tally after opening his Spurs account in the 3-0 Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday.
Llorente has taken 17 appearances to get his first goal for the London side following his move from Swansea. While he has been used mainly as a substitute by Pochettino, he was given a starting opportunity in what was a dead rubber, with Spurs already group winners.
The striker responded with a decent all-round performance and scored in the 20th minute when he controlled a cross from Serge Aurier before firing into the net.
"Very pleased. It was very important for him," said Spurs manager Pochettino, who made eight changes to the team that started against Watford on Saturday and rested top scorer Harry Kane.
"Always when you are a striker, you need to feel the net and score. Today it was fantastic for him. Of course, the players always need time to adapt their qualities to the new team and club...
"He's a player who is going to help, is helping a lot, but now with more confidence and belief, he is going to help the team more."
Llorente was the focal point of Pochettino's 4-2-3-1 formation and the Spaniard might have opened the scoring earlier, following a free kick by Harry Winks.
The hosts doubled their lead after 37 minutes when Son Heung Min curled the ball into the far corner and Georges-Kevin N'Koudou made it 3-0 with 10 minutes left.
Like N'Koudou, left-back Danny Rose was also handed a rare start - his fifth for Spurs this season. He was replaced in the 70th minute by Kyle Walker-Peters after sustaining a cut to his head, leading to an on-field row with Pochettino.
The England international, reportedly a Manchester United target and whose future at Spurs remains uncertain, stormed down the tunnel but his manager played down the situation.
"Never the player is happy when they are going out," said the Argentinian. "He had a big cut and the doctors said he needed a stitch.
"Of course the player is frustrated but it was an accident - nothing wrong."
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN