It took a young Gareth Bale 25 attempts to finally finish on a winning Tottenham Hotspur team, but the forward only had to wait for the second appearance of his return to register a first victory.
Bale forced the Lask own-goal that helped Spurs on the way to a comfortable Europa League success over their Austrian opposition and there were enough good flashes during his 62 minutes on the pitch to suggest this can be a happy reunion.
Andres Andrade, the Lask defender who put through his own net, suffered such a torrid opening 45 minutes against Bale that he was dragged off at half-time.
“I’m a little bit stiff, it’s going to take me time,” said Bale. “It’s like a mini pre-season for me at the moment. I am just trying to get fit and get some more minutes under my belt.
“Hopefully, it won’t take too long to get back to full speed, but I’m just enjoying being back on the pitch and back at this amazing club.
“The reaction (from the fans) has been amazing. It’s a big reason why I play well and why I wanted to come back. You want to be loved and appreciated. To come back here, I’ll give everything for the shirt. When I get fully match fit, I will be up and running and, hopefully, contribute even more.”
Just as important as Bale’s start for Spurs was the impact of debutant Carlos Vinicius, who replaced Harry Kane up front for the hosts.
The fact that Kane remained an unused substitute for the first time since a 6-1 FA Cup success over Rochdale in February 2018 said everything about how well Vinicius did and provided optimism that Spurs finally have an adequate support act for their star man.
On loan from Benfica, the striker chalked up two assists, for Lucas Moura and substitute Heung-min Son, and could have got on the scoresheet himself. He almost certainly would have done if Andrade had not beaten him to Bale’s low cross in the 27th minute.
“He (Vinicius) can play with Harry Kane and not just be the guy to cover him,” said Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho. “Vinicius can do much more than this, but I am really happy for him. The only thing that was missing was one goal, but he is so much more than that.”
Son scores, and Spurs are in cruise control...
But this goal is all about Carlos Vinicius 👌
Two delightful assists for the forward this evening! 👏 pic.twitter.com/D41bnRSEqs
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 22, 2020
Two days after the 10th anniversary of his famous hat-trick away at Inter Milan in the Champions League, Bale made his first start since returning to Tottenham on the right.
He won a corner in just the seventh minute after beating Andrade, but Erik Lamela’s delivery was easily dealt with by the visiting defence. And Bale was involved again when he passed to Matt Doherty, who found Vinicius unmarked but from six yards the Brazilian headed wide.
Vinicius, however, did much better in the 18th minute, as he collected a Ben Davies pass down the left and found the overlapping Moura to open the scoring.
Ahead of the game, Mourinho had warned that Bale is now a different player to the one who left Tottenham in 2013. He may not have been galloping up the touchline, but the 31-year-old was showing plenty of energy in and around the Lask penalty area, and he registered an assist.
The way in which Sergio Reguilon ran up the left and cut inside was reminiscent of the Bale of old. The left-back passed to Lamela, who then found Bale and his low cross was turned into his own net by Andrade.
Bale sniffed an opportunity to get on the scoreheet shortly before the hour mark, but Lask goalkeeper Alexander Schlager was out quickly to clear Lamela’s high pass over the top.
And that proved to be his final involvement, as Bale was replaced by Son and earned enthusiastic applause from the directors’ area.
Dele Alli was one of the three substitutes introduced when Bale went off, replacing Lamela, and he quickly set up Son to shoot over with a nice touch with the outside of his boot.
Mourinho, though, threw his arms up in frustration with Dele with 15 minutes remaining, as the former England international failed to find the back of the net after being put through on goal by Vinicius.
Dele then forced Schlager into a save that prompted Mourinho to slap his legs in frustration before Son finally got Tottenham’s third goal after latching on to a smart nod down by Vinicius. For once, Kane remained a spectator.
Spurs have won 11 of their last 12 home UEFA Europa League group stage matches (D1).
After losing just one of their first eight UEFA Europa League matches (W5 D2), LASK have lost each of their last three in a row.
Spurs have scored 31 goals in all competitions this season, five more than any other Premier League side.
Spurs manager Jose Mourinho has won 12 of his 15 home matches in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (D2 L1), across spells with Benfica, FC Porto, Man Utd and Spurs.
Spurs forward Lucas Moura has scored in each of his last three starts in all competitions, his best streak for the club.
Only his team-mate Harry Kane (18) has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions among Premier League players than Son Heung-Min (13 - 9 goals, 4 assists) this season.
Austrian teams remain winless in 18 away UEFA European matches in England, drawing one and losing 17.
Courtesy of Opta
Full-time: Tottenham 3 LASK 0
And that is that.
A good evening's work for Spurs. They didn't exactly set the world alight - despite some good performances from Vinicius, Doherty, Bale and Lucas Moura - but they got the job done and Mourinho can't complain.
90+1 mins: Tottenham 3 LASK 0
There's a chance for Clarke after Doherty finds him at the far post with another accurate, flighted pass, but he blasts his shot wide across goal - what a dream debut that would have been.
89 mins: Tottenham 3 LASK 0
Son scraps tooth and nail in the LASK box, searching for a second - and a fourth for Spurs - but he catches and fouls Potzman.
Three minutes of added time to come.
86 mins: Tottenham 3 LASK 0
And that was Vinicius' final intervention, as he is replaced by Jack Clarke, formerly of Leeds Utd, on his Spurs debut.
LASK know the game is up, but their fight is admirable.
There is a third for Spurs, and it's Son.
Doherty picks up Vinicius on the edge of the box, and the debutant knocks down the deftest of headers to Son, who finishes well.
Two assists for Vinicius tonight.
82 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Lo Celso's first act is to take a shove in the back from Filipovic and win Spurs a free-kick.
But his next act is a nifty ball down the line to Alli, who crosses into the box but it somehow misses all his team-mates.
78 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Goiginger on for Balic for LASK, in their final sub, as Lo Celso replaces Lucas Moura for Spurs, who's had a fine match.
76 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Sissoko has added energy and precision since he arrived, as well as attacking intent.
And it's a huuuge chance for Spurs - and you would have put your house on it being 3-0.
Alli is in behind from a cute Vinicius pass - everyone stops for the flag which doesn't come - and he's one-on-one with Schlager. Alli's shot goes underneath Schlager, but the keeper gets enough on it to clear it off the line in a scramble.
72 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Moura and Sissoko with a gorgeous one-two that sets the former away.
He puts a searing ball into the box that Alli flicks on to Son, but the South Korean's shot is tipped over the bar by Schlager.
68 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Lucas Moura with a mazy run that sees Son one-on-one with the keeper, but Spurs are called back for offside.
I wouldn't be surprised if this one ends 2-0. Spurs could easily extend their lead, but they don't really need to, and LASK have barely come close to scoring.
66 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Filipovic gets up at the near post and his header, off the back of his head, has everyone beaten, but it goes over the bar.
Sissoko strides forward before feeding Lucas Moura down the right, but his cross his intercepted brilliantly by Eggestein.
63 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Immediate impact from Son, finding space and giving the game a bit of a tempo injection.
Down the other end, however, Eggestein has a long-range pop which is blocked and deflected by Winks, and LASK will have a corner.
60 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Changes for Spurs.
Bale's first start for seven years comes to an end, as he is replaced by Son; Sissoko comes on for Hojbjerg; and Lamela is off for Alli.
58 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Doherty splits the defence with another well-executed pass to find Lamela in the box, but the Argentine's control is far too heavy and a chance for a shot goes begging.
Bale gets after a long ball but Schlager flies off his line to clear the danger.
55 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Bale does terrifically well not to be dispossessed as he's circled by three LASK players, creeping like vultures.
Lucas Moura feeds Vinicius down the left but Filipovic puts in a strong challenge to thwart the attack.
52 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Lamela catches the new man Eggestein as LASK look to move forward.
Michorl whips in another inviting free-kick into the box, but no LASK attackers can get to it, and Sanchez turns it behind.
There's a chance for Grgic from the corner, but his shot is weak and there's no beating Hart.
49 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Doherty wins a corner for Spurs after more good good work in tandem with Bale down the right, but Sanchez heads it over.
It's been a bit of a flat start to the half.
47 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Lamela looks to thread it in at the far post at the start of the half but it just flashes by the woodwork.
Both for LASK, their third and fourth of the evening.
Eggestein on for Gruber and Potzman on for own-goal-scorer Andrade.
It wasn't Bale's goal
...but he had a pretty big hand in Andrade turning the ball into his own net.
Smiles all round.
Half-time: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
A good half from Spurs, but not without errors.
Vinicius and Davies combined delicately to allow Lucas Moura to give the hosts the lead, before an Andrade own goal gave Spurs breathing space.
LASK did start to play themselves back into the came towards the end of the half, however, and although Spurs have been dominant, they have not been flawless. Hojbjerg gave the ball away needlessly at the end of the half, while Winks has been lucky not to have seen the yellow card and committing three fouls in one half.
45+2 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Some lovely one-touch attacking stuff from Spurs in midfield, before Vinicius is absolutely pole-axed by Michorl, who is booked for his efforts.
44 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
First bit of danger for Spurs as Reguilon is dispossessed.
Grgic plays the ball in before Gruber's close-range shot is blocked well by Davies.
Gruber hits another one moments later from outside the box and Hart's diving save is a good one.
41 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Gruber with a tempting ball into the Spurs box but it's asking a little too much of Raguz to get on the end of it, with Hart once again collecting gratefully.
39 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
That's LASK's attack in a nutshell.
Gruber gets himself in a good position down the left, but he slices his cross which flies, once again, into row z.
Another switch for LASK, as Renner departs for Filipovic.
35 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Lucas Moura wins a good header in the LASK box and it forces Trauner to head the ball behind for a Spurs corner.
LASK clear well and launch an attack, but it is stopped emphatically by another Winks foul. That's at least three in the half for him and he's lucky not to see yellow.
32 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Michorl whips a corner into the box but it's headed away well by Davies, until Reguilon fouls Ranftl, putting Spurs under pressure again.
Michorl's free-kick is headed away by Doherty and Trauner's long-range effort is straight into row z.
29 mins: Tottenham 2 LASK 0
Spurs are totally dominant here, and LASK are a bit all over the shop at the back.
The hosts nearly have another, as Vinicius is through almost immediately from the restart, but Schlager just about does enough.
It's an own goal from Andrade, who gets on the end of a Bale cross.
Reguilon drives at the LASK defence before finding his Welsh team-mate on the right, before he flashes a cross into the box that Andrade slides at and clips in.
24 mins: Tottenham 1 LASK 0
Bale clips an inviting ball into the box and Sanchez, who loses his marker, is a paper clip away from getting on the end of it.
Bale and Doherty are at it again down the right, generally causing mayhem, but the latter cannot pick out a team-mate in the box when he had worked himself into a dangerous position.
22 mins: Tottenham 1 LASK 0
Hojbjerg takes an almighty clatter and the blood starts to pour - he has to leave for a bandage.
Winks fouls Michorl clumsily, but Hart once again comes out to claim the free-kick.
It's a delightful goal from Spurs, and Lucas Moura is on the end of it.
Davies picks out Vinicius with a delectable, floated pass, before the debutant crosses sweetly to Lucas Moura who finishes with ease.
16 mins: Tottenham 0 LASK 0
Bale nutmegs Andrade but the LASK defender stands his ground - illegally, it seems - to send the Welshman tumbling.
14 mins: Tottenham 0 LASK 0
More slick football from Spurs in midfield, with Winks and Doherty intertwining before Lamela sends Reguilon scurrying down the touchline, but he is marginally offside. That looked tight.
Raguz follows up for LASK by stroking a very half-hearted cross into the Spurs box, which Hart laps up.
12 mins: Tottenham 0 LASK 0
Hart with a stunning goal kick to find Lucas Moura in the LASK half, before his forward is caught by Ranftl.
Doherty goes cross-field to new signing Reguilon but the pass is overcooked and LASK will throw in.
9 mins: Tottenham 0 LASK 0
A great chance for Spurs.
Lucas Moura travels in midfield before Doherty and Bale link up again down the right - they're already causing problems.
The former slides a lovely ball into the box to find Vinicius, but is header is poor under little pressure.
7 mins: Tottenham 0 LASK 0
Hojbjerg and Winks combine neatly in midfield for Spurs but Bale is allowed to let rip.
He goes round Andrade and approaches the penalty area, winning a corner, that Davies heads over the bar.
4 mins: Tottenham 0 LASK 0
Michorl catches Doherty late and it takes the Spurs right-back a while to get back to his feet.
An early change for LASK, too, as Grgic replaces Holland, who is injured.
2 mins: Tottenham 0 LASK 0
Winks gives away an early free-kick for Spurs, and Michorl puts a probing ball into the box that Andrade was not far away from.
Winks make up for the error with some lovely footwork to unleash Doherty down the right.
The teams are out
Kick-off isn't far away...
Arsenal leave it late to wrap it up
In the day's first North London-Austrian derby, Arsenal came from behind to beat Rapid Vienna.
Catch all the reaction here.
The man himself arriving
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 22, 2020
Jose Mourinho dismisses 'Spursy' talk
It has become a rite of passage for every Tottenham Hotspur manager, at some stage, to face the ‘Spursy’ question.
Following the surrender of a three-goal lead against West Ham United, this was Jose Mourinho’s time.
Mourinho did not need or want a definition of what ‘Spursy’ means but, for the uninitiated, the term has a place on urbandictionary.com with the description reading ‘to consistently and inevitably fail to live up to expectations. To bottle it’.
This will be Spurs’ very first match against LASK; they have faced Austrian opposition on four previous occasions, beating SV Stockerau twice and FK Austria Wien once (D1).
Spurs were eliminated by KAA Gent at the Last 32 stage in their most recent Europa League participation (2016-17). They have successfully navigated the group stages with each of their last four attempts since failing in 2011-12.
LASK’s only previous meeting with English opposition was a 7-1 aggregate defeat at the hands of Man Utd in the Last 16 of this competition last season.
LASK finished top of a group containing Sporting CP, PSV Eindhoven and Rosenborg last season, earning 13 points.
Spurs striker Harry Kane has scored 28 goals in 50 appearances in major European competition, though he has failed to score in his last four matches in the Europa League.
Courtesy of Opta
Gareth Bale starts for the first time in his second spell at Tottenham. Carlos Vinicius makes his Spurs debut, starting in attack, as Jose Mourinho names eight changes to his side, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min on the bench.
Tottenham: Hart, Doherty, Sanchez, Davies (c), Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Winks, Lamela, Bale, Lucas, Vinicius.
Subs: Lloris, Austin, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sissoko, Ndombele, Clarke, Lo Celso, Dele, Bergwijn, Son, Kane.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 22, 2020
LASK: Schlager, Wiesinger, Trauner, Andrade, Ranftl, Holland, Michorl, Renner, Gruber, Raguz, Balic.
Subs: Filipovic, Eggestein, Ramsebner, Potzmann, Madsen, Cheberko, Lawal, Goiginger, Grgic, Gebauer.
— LASK (@LASK_Official) October 22, 2020
Referee: Mohammed Al Hakim (Sweden)
Hello and welcome to the second of two live Europa League matches with Telegraph Sport, as Tottenham Hotspur welcome LASK to North London.
Spurs kick-off their Group J campaign against the Austrian side four days after their Premier League capitulation against West Ham.
Jose Mourinho's men were coasting to the three points, leading 3-0, until they shipped three goals in the final eight minutes.They have a chance to put things right tonight.
"We're going to try," Mourinho said. "It's the third time I played the competition and the other two times, one with Porto and one with (Manchester) United, we managed to win it.
"So the record in the Europa League is great, never knocked out. Of course, lost a few matches in the group phase but managed always to win it."
After coming on as a substitute against West Ham for his first appearance since returning to Tottenham, Gareth Bale could get his first start in tonight's match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
"The Europa League is difficult, it is a very long competition, the group phase is tricky, then you go to the knockouts and you get teams coming from the Champions League, which is very unfair," Mourinho said. "If you play Champions League and you don't qualify, you go home. In the Europa League group phase, if you finish third you go home."
LASK head coach Dominik Thalhammer, meanwhile, has revealed one of his squad has not travelled after testing positive for coronavirus.
Thalhammer is content that all protocol has been followed and says it has caused no disruption to their plans for the game. The unnamed player is at home in quarantine and is showing no symptoms.
"It was yesterday evening," he said at his pre-match press conference. "It did not disrupt us. This particular player, he did not travel with the team, we have done lots of coronavirus testing and it was all negative, but when I discovered that one player was positive then we tested again.
"Only players with negative tests were able to travel to London."