LONDON: Tottenham gave their season a much-needed shot in the arm with a 5-0 demolition of Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.
It has been a horrible start to the campaign for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who had only won three games before this, but they put all their problems behind them in a pulsating display in Group B.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both scored twice while Erik Lamela had a red letter day on his 200th appearance for the club, adding a second-half goal to his two assists.
Pochettino, who has admitted his job could be on the line if their slump continues, will hope this can be the start of a resurgence, though that will be put to the immediate test in their next game when they visit Liverpool in the Premier League.
It has to be said that Red Star, who somehow were supported by over 200 fans despite a ban by UEFA, were not up to much, but Spurs were simply too hot to handle and produced a result that went some way to righting the wrongs of that 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich last time out.
It also had importance in their ambitions of making it out of the group as they now move into second place and will fancy their chances of progressing.
The obituaries for this Spurs team have already been written, but they reproduced the form of seasons gone, helped by an electric start.
And if there was going to be one man who was going to set the tone, then Kane was the likeliest bet and true enough the skipper came to the fore.
Having already shown intent with an early mazy run into the box, he gave his side the perfect start with a ninth-minute opener.
He got in front of his marker to head home Lamela’s corner for his 17th Champions League goal in just his 22nd game.
It was the perfect tonic for Spurs and it was even better seven minutes later as they went 2-0 up as Serge Aurier and Lamela combined down the right, with the latter’s cross perfect for Son to ram home a half-volley at the far post.
Spurs could have racked up several more in the opening half-hour as Tanguy Ndombele and Lamela brought fine saves out of Milan Borjan.
In the end, they had to wait until the 44th minute to grab a third and Son was the man again, though he had Ndombele to thank.
The record signing robbed Marko Marin near the halfway line and played in the South Korean, who coolly slotted home.
There was a goal glut for Spurs if they wanted as they cut the Serbians open at will and Lamela was guilty of missing two golden chances after Kane and Son laid it on a plate for him.
The Argentinian was not going to be denied a goal on his special night, though, and eventually got on the score sheet in the 57th minute when he fired home on the turn after a move that included another wonderful Kane pass.
Son could have had a hat-trick but his shot clipped the outside of a post, while Kane was unusually wasteful when he could not connect with a header in front of goal.
The captain had put in a virtuoso display, though, and was not going to miss another chance as he grabbed a second of the night and 18th in the competition.
Raheem Sterling grabbed a quickfire second-half hat-trick as 10-man Manchester City thrashed Atalanta 5-1 to put one foot in the Champions League knockout stages.
The England forward struck three times in the space of 11 minutes after Sergio Aguero had netted twice to cancel out Ruslan Malinovsky’s penalty opener for the visitors at the Etihad Stadium.
City’s victory lifted them five points clear at the top of Group C with three games still to play but there were downsides.
Phil Foden, who otherwise had a fine game, was sent off for two bookable offences and Rodri hobbled off injured.
Manager Pep Guardiola may be also concerned about a sluggish start which allowed Atalanta to make a lot of the early running.
Despite their poor record in the competition, the visitors showed the attacking intent that has again lifted them to third in Serie A after finishing in that position last season.
They troubled City in the early stages and could have gone ahead when Robin Gosens chipped a clever cross across goal but Timothy Castagne headed over.
City roused themselves and created a series of good chances. Sterling chipped narrowly wide before failing to find Aguero when well placed.
Aguero forced a good save from Pierluigi Gollini and then shot over after brilliant work by Foden to keep the ball in play on the byline.
City were stung after 28 minutes as Fernandinho, again playing in a makeshift central defensive partnership with Rodri, brought Josip Ilicic down just inside the area. Malinovskyi sent Ederson the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick.
City responded well and were back level within six minutes as Sterling ran across the edge of the box and clipped in a cross for Aguero to calmly tap past Gollini.
The hosts then stepped up a gear and soon claimed the lead with a penalty of their own after Sterling was brought down by Andrea Masiello following another weaving run.
Aguero stroked home the spot-kick and City threatened again as Kyle Walker’s deflected shot was turned away by Gollini.
City lost Rodri just before the break with what looked like a hamstring injury but they at least had a specialist defensive replacement in John Stones.
Atalanta offered little after the break and City took a firm grip on the game with a fine team goal just before the hour.
Riyad Mahrez released Kevin De Bruyne down the right and he burst into the area to feed Foden, who in turn teed up Sterling for an emphatic finish from six yards.
Sterling struck again soon after as he raced onto a defence-splitting Ilkay Gundogan pass and wrong-footed a defender to fire home.
Remo Freuler put the ball in the net for Atalanta but was ruled offside before Sterling completed his treble by turning home an inviting Mahrez cross.
Sterling should have had a fourth after racing through one-on-one but rolled his shot wide of the post.
City’s night ended on a bad note as Foden, booked harshly moments earlier for a foul, was shown a second yellow card and then a red for pulling back former Middlesbrough midfielder Marten De Roon.
Gp A: Brugge 0, PSG 5; Galatasaray 0, Real Madrid 1. Gp B: Olympiacos 2, Bayern 3; Tottenham 5, Crvena Zvezda 0. Gp C: Shakhtar 2, Dinamo Zagreb 2; Man City 5, Atalanta 1. Gp D: Atletico Madrid 1, Bayer Leverkusen 0; Juventus 2, Lok Moscow 1.