Jose Mourinho’s first home game in charge of Spurs saw a return to the previous regime before they turned it around to qualify for the knockout stages.
The penultimate Champions League group game started like the weekend victory over Wet Spam ended, in a manner that was all too reminiscent of recent times under Pochettino. Limp, lifeless, inept. All the traits that got Poch the sack.
This wasn’t what Jose signed up for. He didn’t help himself with team selection and hasn’t been helped by yet another Spurs injury.
In a change from the Poch era there was very little change from the team that started the league fixture at the weekend and the team he picked to face Olympiacos, you figure if Davies hadn’t been injured in the previous game he would have started and it would have been the same XI. So Rose started and along with Winks gifted the Greeks a two goal lead, within 20 minutes.
Five minutes in a a punt up the Olympiacos right saw Rose just knock the ball infield, to no one in particular but as for most of the first half the opposition got to the ball first. He cut inside, where Winks did one of those look I’m trying, not actually trying tackles, missing everything, leading to a curler past Gazzaniga.
The disconnect in Spurs was back. The defence weren’t defending, bar Sanchez, the midfield could hardly get the ball and when they did they couldn’t feed the attack. Kane was a spectator.
It needed a change, one of Jose’s first half hooks, you know the type that would never happen under Poch even when everything was screaming out for it. It came just before the half hour when Eriksen stripped off and replaced Dier. Can’t say I agreed with either player bing involved but it was an indication that no one can rest easy, especially when playing as bad as this.
Mourinho at least consoled Dier as he came off and apologised in the dressing room apparently, stating he could have taken a number of players off. It should have been Winks.
The thing was it was two nil when the change came. Dele had given the ball away in the Spurs’ half – it was his brother in the first half – it resulted in a cheap corner. From the set-piece the ball went near post where Winks again ponced out of making a real challenge, while the ball passed Rose who was looking clueless, while Toby let his man – the scorer – go.
The hook didn’t have an immediate effect… it didn’t have much effect in the first half at all. Luck did. Olympiacos had defended excellently, not giving Spurs any time on the ball but just before the break one of their players, who had stood out in the previous 5 minutes made a howler. A decent cross from Aurier and a sing and a miss from Meriah and the ball ran to Dele for a tap in. Won’t score an easier one.
Whatever Jose did at half-time, it worked. It was a different Spurs. Sanchez was obviously as stunned as the rest of us when Eriksen missed the first defender with a free-kick a couple of minutes in, it’s the only explanation for his point blank miss.
The equaliser came a couple of minutes later and was a fine bit of quick work. Moura probably did foul the Olympiacos player the ref gave a throw. A ballboy got the ball quickly to Aurier who took a quick throw to Moura, who headed to the byline, Harry had dropped back in the box and Moura cut the ball back perfectly for the striker to fire home.
Another goal from another cross. Things we haven’t seen for a while. Feed Harry and he will score.
Jose thanked the ballboy…
I love intelligent ball boys like I was. I was a brilliant ball boy as a kid… and this kid today was brilliant. He reads the game, understands the game and made an important assist.
“He’s not there just to look to the stands, lights or scarves. He’s living the game and playing it very well. Jose Mourinho
It took nearly another quarter of an hour for Spurs to go ahead. The real Dele had come out for the second half, he was running things. Played into the box by Kane, he jinked and worked his way into space to get a cross in, Son headed the ball on across the area, probably not meaning to find Aurier at the back post but his head just put the spin on the ball that meant it landed on the fullback’s foot perfectly. Aurier’s strike was true and the ball curled into the far side netting.
Four minutes later and the victory was complete. Dele just running at them was taken down – then stamped on which should have seen a red card but didn’t, though it did see Dele depart to a standing ovation a few minutes later. Eriksen stepped up and put the perfect free-kick on Harry’s head. In the process Harry Kane becoming the fastest player to score 20 goals in the Champions League, taking just 24 games.
20 – Harry Kane has scored 20 Champions League goals in just 24 appearances – the fastest a player has reached 20 goals in the competition's history. Heroic. pic.twitter.com/vgpkIIXLl1
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 26, 2019
Eriksen. A free-kick. Missing defenders.
Well it was his second one. The first missed the defenders and just didn’t curl enough to go in. This was the Eriksen free-kick of old. In fact it was close to the Eriksen of old in the second half. He actually looked bothered. Still wouldn’t start him next game. I don’t know what’ll happen with Lo Celso if Eriksen is being brought on and Winks stays on when you’re two nil down. The Argentinian is far better player than Winks and needs to start games in the midfield.
This was the first time in Jose’s career his team had come back from a two goal deficit in the Champions League to win, losing the previous 13 matches where he was two or more goals down. The fact he’s done that with Spurs… well, it’s something…
Didn’t they say it was gonna be boring under Jose… two wins… seven goals… four against… Eriksen assist… Aurier goal and assists… Dele back and Harry being on the end of crosses… please keep up with this turgid stuff…