Spurs fight back in Jose Mourinho home debut
By Phil McNulty |BBC Sports|
Jose Mourinho made a dramatic entrance at his new home as Tottenham came from two goals down to beat Olympiakos and qualify for the Champions League knockout phase.
Mourinho made a low-key entrance for his first game as manager at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – but then it was drama all the way as he was subjected to all facets of the side he inherited from sacked Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs were dreadful at the back in the first half, going behind after only six minutes to Youssef El-Arabi’s low drive and conceding a second 13 minutes later when Ruben Semedo scored from close range at a corner.
Mourinho acted quickly, sending on Christian Eriksen for Eric Dier, but it still took a horrendous error from Yassine Meriah to gift Dele Alli a goal in first-half stoppage time to throw Spurs a lifeline they accepted with relish.
Harry Kane levelled from Lucas Moura’s cross five minutes after the break, Mourinho hugging an alert ball boy who helped Serge Aurier take a quick throw-in that caught Olympiakos flat-footed, and the recovery was complete 17 minutes from time when the defender powered home a finish at the far post from Alli’s cross.
Mourinho fist-pumped furiously in delight and he was ecstatic again when Kane wrapped things up with a header from Eriksen’s inviting free-kick.
The England captain broke Alessandro del Piero’s record as the player to score 20 Champions League goals in the fewest games – 24, compared to the Italian’s 26 games with Juventus.
Mourinho makes his mark
There was no fanfare when Mourinho took his seat in the technical area before kick-off, although inevitably banks of photographers were there to welcome him.
He had a distinctly uncomfortable start as this lively Olympiakos side exposed so many of the flaws that led to Pochettino’s sacking and Mourinho’s arrival as Spurs were run ragged early on.
It was then that Mourinho made his impact with a positive – and necessary – substitution as he introduced the creativity of Eriksen for the stability of pivot Dier to try to edge Spurs back into the contest.
This was not a cautious Mourinho but one who knew something had to change, even though only 26 minutes had gone.
Yes, Spurs and Mourinho needed a huge slice of luck, but once they emerged for the second half the mood had changed after Alli’s goal, which deflated Olympiakos and revitalised the home side and their supporters.
It allowed Mourinho to join in the celebrations with the Spurs fans, and even hug that ball boy, as a night that started by threatening a serious anti-climax had the perfect conclusion.
Mourinho won’t get carried away
Mourinho stayed on the pitch at the final whistle to congratulate his Spurs players before politely applauding fans behind the technical area and making his way down the tunnel.
This was a good night for Mourinho in the context of the result and Spurs’ performance once they had the encouragement of a goal right on half-time.
They were galvanised and the usual suspects came to the party as Kane struck twice and Alli showed superb footwork to set up the third goal for Aurier.
Mourinho, however, will not get carried away because he will note how Spurs were so easily cut open early on and how defensive uncertainty, and moments of poor communication between goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga and his backline, threatened more problems.
He knew he had problems to solve when he succeeded Pochettino and two wins from two will not blind him to the fact they still need addressing.
Man of the match – Dele Alli
Match stats – Mourinho’s biggest Champions League comeback
- Tottenham striker Harry Kane is the fastest player to score 20 Champions League goals, reaching the tally in just 24 appearances and breaking the record held by Alessandro del Piero since 1998 (26 appearances).
- Kane has scored 23 goals in 23 appearances for Tottenham and England this season.
- This was the first time a team managed by Jose Mourinho has come from two goals down to win a Champions League game – he had lost on the previous 13 occasions.
- Mourinho took charge of his sixth different club in the Champions League (Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Spurs). Only Carlo Ancelotti has managed more teams in the competition (eight).
- Olympiakos have not won in their last 13 Champions League matches (D3 L10), conceding 34 goals.
- Dele Alli ended a run of 16 Champions League games without a goal, scoring for the first time since November 2017 against Real Madrid. All four of Alli’s goals in the competition have come at home.
Tottenham host Bournemouth on Saturday (15:00 GMT) in the Premier League as they look to make it three wins from three under Mourinho.