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Alli scores wonder goal, Tottenham through in Europa League

LONDON – Dele Alli scored with an overhead kick and set up two other goals as Tottenham beat Wolfsberg 4-0 in the Europa League on Wednesday to become the first team to qualify for the last 16.

Alli, handed a rare start by Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho, flicked the ball up after meeting a right-wing cross by Matt Doherty then leapt with his back to goal and directed an acrobatic effort into the bottom corner in the 11th minute of the second-leg match in the round of 32.

The midfielder crossed for Carlos Vinicius to head in the second goal in the 50th then played in substitute Gareth Bale to curl a powerful 73rd-minute shot into the top corner.

Vinicius added a fourth for Tottenham, which completed an 8-1 victory on aggregate over its Austrian opponent.

Alli has largely been frozen out by Mourinho this season but enjoyed the best night of his reintegration to the squad following a failed exit in the January transfer window exit.

While he was playing against the lowest-ranked team left in the Europa League, it was a big step forward for a player who was in the England team at the 2018 World Cup and he could yet have a big impact this season.

“Step by step he is getting back to his best and I think that goal was another glimpse of that and what he can bring to the team,” Tottenham defender Eric Dier said. “In football, everyone has a very short memory and maybe they’d forgotten a bit of Dele’s quality, so tonight he’s reminded everyone of that.”

Mourinho is under pressure after losing five of his last six games in the Premier League and has targeted winning the Europa League as a route into the Champions League. There are no seedings or territorial restrictions in the last 16, meaning the likes of Manchester United or AC Milan could be opponents in the next round.

The remaining second legs in the last 32 are staged on Thursday.

The Tottenham-Wolfsberg game was played Wednesday to avoid a clash with fellow north London club Arsenal, which is also at home in the second leg against Benfica — although that game is being played in Athens because of coronavirus restrictions.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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