Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino believes Erik Lamela has cleared a major hurdle in his recovery from a long-standing hip injury by scoring during his side’s victory in Wednesday's FA Cup fourth-round replay against Newport.
Lamela, who was making only his fourth start of the season, netted his first goal for Spurs since September 2016, adding to Dan Butler’s own goal as the hosts cruised into round five.
Despite there being 75 places between the two sides, there was no repeat of Tuesday’s massacre which saw Swansea score eight against Newport’s League Two rivals Notts County. Two goals were sufficient for Spurs to set up a clash with Rochdale at Spotland on 18 February.
“We are so happy because after more than one year he [Lamela] scored again and to feel the net is so important for a player like him,” said Pochettino, who was celebrating his 200th match in charge of Tottenham.
“It is true that it is the FA Cup, it is against Newport of League Two, but always it is important to build your confidence again and believe that you can compete for a place in the starting XI.”
Lamela, who made his return to first-team action in late November following a 13-month injury lay-off, said: “I was out for a long time and it was difficult for me but I am back playing now and it is good to get a goal.
“We have a very good team and we need everyone fit to fight for places.”
Tottenham had won all seven of their previous FA Cup home matches against teams from England’s fourth tier, scoring 38 goals in the process, but struggled to carve out any early openings against a resolute Newport.
Spurs, however, took a fortuitous 26th minute lead as Moussa Sissoko’s low cross following Fernando Llorente’s square pass struck Newport full-back Butler, with the deflection beating wrong-footed goalkeeper Joe Day at his near post.
The lead was doubled before half-time as Lamela scored his first goal for 17 months, having undertaken an arduous recovery after injury, by latching onto Son Heung-min’s pass and finishing clinically past Day.
Llorente planted a free header and then a volley past the post as substitute Dele Alli clipped the crossbar, while Newport, who came within eight minutes of knocking out Spurs at Rodney Parade, failed to halve the deficit in stoppage-time as Padraig Amond was denied by stand-in stopper Michel Vorm.