This was an emphatic victory for one side but an end that satisfied neither. Tottenham Hotspur cruised to victory but Harry Redknapp was still left to rue elimination from the Europa League. His Shamrock Rovers counterpart, Michael O'Neill, did not even get a goal to commemorate his final match in charge of the club that he guided to unprecedented heights in a three-year reign.

Redknapp has made no secret of the fact that he considered this competition to be far less significant than the Champions League but still professed to being dismayed that the result in the group's other game — between Paok Salonika and Rubin Kazan — meant that those two teams qualified at Spurs' expense.

"I had a feeling that match would end in a draw," said Redknapp wryly of the result. His chief reason for wanting to continue in the competition was that it provided an arena for his fringe players to flex muscles that are mostly inactive while the first-choice team challenges for the Premier League. Some of those players are upcoming youngsters but many are established internationals and the team that Tottenham deployed against Rovers, although featuring nine changes from the one that contested Spurs' last domestic outing, was still far too strong for the Irish champions. Yet there was no dishonour in the defeat for Rovers, who had excelled just to reach this stage of the tournament for the first time in their history and were not destroyed in any of their group games, although they lost them all.

Rovers, despite having played only one competitive match since their domestic season ended six weeks ago, showed far more gusto than the visitors early on and James Paterson seemed to have rewarded their greater appetite with a goal in the second minute, but the referee ruled — wrongly — that he was offside when he sent his 20-yard curling shot in off the post. Ken Oman slashed wide for the hosts in the 12th minute after more dozy defending by Tottenham but thereafter the Premier League side took control.

Danny Rose came close to giving them the lead in fortuitous fashion when his wayward cross landed on the crossbar but in the 29th minute Steven Pienaar did open the scoring, shooting crisply into the far corner of the net from the edge of the box after a clever dummy past Stephen Rice. It was the South African's first goal for the club since his transfer from Everton in January.

Andros Townsend is one of the Tottenham players whose action this season has been confined to cup competitions but he may have considered that he advanced his claim for a Premier League outing by scoring a sumptuous second goal on 38 minutes. After swapping neat passes with Jermain Defoe he curled a delicious lob into the net from 20 yards. The 20-year-old created Tottenham's third on the stroke of half-time, racing down the left before crossing for Defoe, whose shot on the swivel trickled over the line.

At that stage Rubin were a goal and a man down in Greece and Tottenham seemed on course for qualification despite having lost their previous two matches in the campaign, against Rubin in Russia and Paok at White Hart Lane last month. All Spurs needed was two more goals but the manner in which they sought them reflected their ambivalence towards the tournament, with the tempo not increasing and Redknapp replacing Defoe with 18-year-old Harry Kane.

The teenager, in fairness, did add the fourth in the final minute, finishing smartly from close range after another tee-up by Townsend, but until then he had not looked as menacing as Defoe. Indeed, although Giovani Dos Santos also hit the post for Spurs with a shot from distance and Sandro also nudged a shot against the upright after neat interplay, it was the Irish side who looked the most threatening for much of the second half.

The Rovers winger Billy Dennehy forced an awkward save from Carlo Cudicini from long range before the most blatant opportunity fell to Karl Sheppard in the 56th minute. The 20-year-old striker displayed the speed that has attracted interest from Cardiff City and a host of English clubs by outpacing Jake Livermore to latch on to a long ball ,only to be pulled down by the makeshift defender as he readied to shoot. To the disbelief of the home crowd, the referee decided there had been no foul.

Thus Rovers had to bid farewell to O'Neill. The 42-year-old finally admitted afterwards what had been widely reported — that he will be interviewed for the vacant position of manager of his native Northern Ireland next week, and many of the Rovers players could be moving on to new pastures too, as all but six of them are now out of contract. They will leave with their reputations enhanced.