In the end, despite hammering Shamrock Rovers and despite the pre-game expectation of elimination, it wasn't the most sedate of nights for Harry Redknapp in Dublin.
For a start, there was the fact PAOK Salonika's early lead over Rubin Kazan in the group's other game threatened to demand a late rally from Spurs in order to go through on goals scored. To finish, after Kazan equalised in Greece to put Spurs out, there was the constant goading by the home supporters about Redknapp's forthcoming court case.
While many other aspects of the night will have pleased the Tottenham manager – not least the performances of his young players – he was apparently irritated enough to gesture towards the Rovers fans by the end of the game.
And, although otherwise content, he did react snappily to a question about the incident in the post-match press conference. "Did I make an obscene gesture? No," he said. "I've spent enough time in Ireland to know what fantastic people live here... When you get people together, you know [what happens]. You meet them after and they're lovely people. They get together and they shout a load of nonsense. That's football. That's life."
Spurs did show plenty of life in their performance. "We couldn't have done more," Redknapp said. "We came here, did the job we had to do. When you're in a situation like we were – relying on another score, it's always difficult. At half-time, with the Russian team losing 1-0 and down to 10 men... I thought three or four goals would do us. So we did what we had to do but, unfortunately... I thought that might be a draw [between PAOK and Kazan]. And it was. That's how it goes. I wanted us to get through. I wouldn't have been jumping up and down on the touchline if I didn't want to win. I kicked every ball.
"Because it's a good experience for the young players as you saw [Andros] Townsend doing well tonight, [Jake] Livermore. I really was desperate to stay in it. We just had a bad 10-15 minutes against the Greek team at home. Everything had gone to plan but we just couldn't get the goal [in the 2-1 defeat to PAOK]. We threw it away at home. But it wasn't through lack of effort. That's for sure."
Last night, they complemented that effort with effervescence. Not least Townsend. He scored the night's second goal with a gorgeous, curled effort before creating the third for Jermain Defoe. Either side, Steven Pienaar beat Rovers' goalkeeper Richard Brush before substitute Harry Kane opened his Tottenham account by prodding in.
"I'll loan them out now," Redknapp said of his young players, summing up the main downside of elimination. "Yeah, maybe if I'd have played [the regular starters] we might have sneaked through. But we might not have won 10 out of 11 League games. So you can't have it all ways."
Shamrock Rovers (4-5-1): Brush; Sullivan, Oman, Murray, Stevens; Dennehy, Rice (O'Donnell, 45), Finn (Twigg, 57), Turner, Paterson; Sheppard (Kilduff, 75)
Tottenham Hotspur Cudicini; Assou-Ekotto (Falque, 84), Kaboul, Livermore, Rose; Townsend, Kranjcar, Sandro, Pienaar; Giovanni, Defoe (Kane, 76)
Referee: S Studer (Switzerland)Reuse content