Tottenham reach UCL last 16 thanks to stunning comeback
LONDON -- Jose Mourinho has lift off at Tottenham Hotspur.
After falling 2-0 down in the first half, Spurs rallied to beat Olympiacos 4-2 at home on Tuesday, as they reached the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
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Youssef El-Arabi gave Olympiacos the lead, the Ruben Semedo doubled it soon afer, but a goal just before half time from Dele Alli sparked Spurs into life.
Harry Kane equalized early in the second half and then Serge Aurier got the go-ahead goal before Kane finished things off on a triumphant, in the end, home debut for Mourinho at Spurs.
3 things we learned
1. Spurs’ shaky defense has to be priority: Spurs have conceded four times in Mourinho’s first two games in charge and he will not be happy about that. Olympiacos’ first was a fine individual goal but the second was after sloppy marking from a set piece. Spurs need to sharpen up defensively and they once again started slowly, which is nothing new this season. Olympiacos are a solid UCL team but nothing more. Keeping compact as a team and being tighter at the back has to be the first big project for Mourinho as Spurs manager. Going forward they will score plenty but they can’t keep shooting themselves in the foot.
2. Positive vibes for Mourinho: Somewhat surprisingly, the overall vibe towards Mourinho from the home fans was a positive one. Before and after the game. Spurs fans want one thing: To win trophies. They’ve accepted that wasn’t going to happen under Pochettino and have moved on very quickly. Mourinho is a winner and back-to-back wins to open up his time in charge of Spurs proves it. The overall message is that Mourinho is welcome at Spurs, as long as he wins a trophy.
3. Holding midfielder/right back key for January: Eric Dier was hooked off after 30 minutes and Eriksen came on to give Spurs some extra attacking impetus, but it was probably because he was having another shocker, just like Saturday at West Ham. He’s rusty and it showed. If Mourinho doesn’t start using Victor Wanyama as a holding midfielder, he needs to go out and get a new one in January. He probably needs a new right back too as Aurier was all over the place positionally, erratic in possession and Mourinho needed to bring Sissoko on to give him more protection defensively. A new right back and holding midfielder is a must for Mourinho’s January wishlist.
Man of the Match: Dele Alli - He scored one and grabbed an assist, as he continues to shine under Mourinho. Clever flicks and tricks stole the show and he has that nasty streak back.
Olympiacos took the lead with their first effort of the game as El Arabi brilliantly turned and smashed a low finish past Paulo Gazzaniga to send the away fans wide.
Heung-min Son’s flicked header then produced a fine save from Jose Sa in a rare Spurs attack, but it was Olympiacos who looked more likely to grab a second. And they did.
Things then got worse for Spurs as a corner was flicked on and Ruben Semedo tapped home to make it 2-0 and spark scenes of utter disbelief among the home fans.
Mourinho responded by subbing off Eric Dier with less than 30 minutes on the clock as Christian Eriksen came on to try and help Spurs salvage the situation.
Right on half time Spurs were gifted a way back into the game as a cross to the front post was missed by Yassine Meriah and Dele Alli tapped home.
Five minutes into the second half Spurs drew level as some quick work from a ball boy found Serge Aurier, his quick throw-in found Lucas Moura who crossed for Kane to slot home as Mourinho celebrated wildly, and with the ball boy, on the sidelines.
Olympiacos poured forward and threatened on numerous occasions as Spurs creaked at the back, but Tottenham got the win their flowing attacking performance, in the second half, deserved.
Dele Alli’s ball to the back post found Aurier who hammered home as Mourinho celebrated wildly on the sidelines, while Kane nodded home Eriksen’s free kick to seal the win in style.
Mourinho is off to a flying start at Spurs, but there is plenty of work to do to repair the damage of the past 12 months.