Tottenham Hotspur thrash Queens Park Rangers
Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli were at the heart of Tottenham Hotspur's 4-0 thrashing of Queens Park Rangers as two of the much-derided flops of last season combined Sunday (NZT Monday) to offer hope for yet another new era in north London.
Tottenham fans have suffered too many false dawns over the years to get too carried away by a win that put Spurs top of the league after two games under new coach Mauricio Pochettino, but even the most jaundiced would have gone home happy.
Argentine playmaker Lamela, the club's £30 million (NZ$60m) record signing from AS Roma last summer, dazzled with his best 90 minutes for the club while Belgium international Chadli weighed in with two goals.
Lamela, 22, looked liked a little boy lost for half of last season before a back injury sidelined him for five months and left many lamenting a spectacular waste of a chunk of the £85m (NZ$170m) the club received for Gareth Bale.
Six other players were signed to fill the void left by Bale's move to Real Madrid, but apart from Dane Christian Eriksen, none of the other arrivals, including Brazil's Paulinho, made any notable impact.
However, there have been signs in an unbeaten pre-season and the three competitive matches Spurs have played so far under former Southampton manager Pochettino, that those investments might at last begin to pay dividends.
Lamela was far more authoritative in Spurs' 1-0 win at West Ham United last week than he was in any match he played last season while last week he created both goals in their 2-1 Europa League win over AEL Limassol in Cyprus after coming on as a substitute halfway through the second half.
QPR, managed by former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, were admittedly woeful and were 3-0 down after 37 minutes at White Hart Lane with a Chadli's two goals, the second superbly set up by Lamela, coming either side of a powerful header from young English fullback Erik Dier, also from a Lamela corner.
Defender Dier, who scored the winner against West Ham on his debut, produced another assured display while Emmanuel Adebayor wrapped up the victory, side-footing home after a blistering Spurs counter-attack.
Eriksen also rattled the crossbar with a sublime free kick.
It was Lamela's form that provided the main talking point.
Pochettino has been credited with sparking him into life, but he downplayed that idea saying instead that Lamela is now coming to terms with English football.
''He can still improve a lot, but when a young player arrives in a new country, with a different culture, different football, it is hard to adapt. But right now we are very pleased with him,'' he told reporters.
He does not see Lamela operating as an orthodox No.10 playmaker either.
''I think the most important thing for creative players, like Lamela, like Christian Eriksen, is that they are free in their minds. You don't want them to be in a shell,'' he said.
''You need to provide them with the movement and the organisation, but I want them to be free to attack in the last third. Sometimes Lamela can be the No.10, sometimes on the left, on the right. You need to understand the players.
''It is good we have won the first two matches because that makes it easier to get the players to believe in your philosophy and that makes it easier to develop your style.
''I know the way Spurs have played in their history, and I want to play that way and keep the link with the fans.''
Those fans also gave a warm welcome to Redknapp, who left Spurs two years ago after taking them into the Champions League for the only time in 2010 and securing fourth, fifth and fourth place finishes in his three complete seasons at the club.
His current aim is not Champions League football for QPR but an immediate improvement in the results of his newly-promoted side who sit at the opposite end of the table from Spurs, in last place after two defeats.
''We know we have a lot of work to do,'' he said.
''The only way is up now. But while we were poor in the first half and Spurs were very strong.
''They have so many good players they could field two strong teams and still have quality players left over. They will be up there at the end, that's for sure.''