Spurs produce stirring fightback to reach last 16
Jose Mourinho made a dramatic entrance to his new home. Tottenham came from two goals down to beat Olympiakos 4-2. The club qualified for the Champions League knockout phase.
Mourinho made a low-key entrance for Tottenham’s game against Olympiakos. But then, it was drama all the way.
In the first half, Spurs were dreadful at the back. The club went behind after six minutes to Youssef El-Arabi’s low drive conceding a second 13 minutes later when Ruben Semedo scored from close range at a corner.
Mourinho acted quickly. He sent Christian Eriksen for Eric Dier. However, it still took a horrendous error from Yassine Meriah to gift Dele Alli a goal in first-half stoppage time throwing Spurs a lifeline they accepted with relish.
Kane leveled from Lucas Moura’s cross five minutes after the break. Mourinho hugged an alert ball boy who helped Serge Aurier take a quick throw-in that caught Olympiakos flat-footed. The recovery was complete 17 minutes from time when the defender powered home a finish at the far post from Alli’s cross.
Mourinho pumped furiously in delight. 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 24 games compared to the Italian’s 26 games with Juventus.
Mourinho draws his mark
There was no fanfare when Mourinho took his seat in the technical area before kick-off. 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.
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 Mourinho who knew something had to change even though only 26 minutes had gone.
The manager stayed in the pitch to congratulate Spurs at the final whistle. Thereafter, he politely applauded fans behind the then technical area and made his way down the tunnel.
It was a good night for Mourinho in the context of the results.
Mourinho, however, will not get carried away. The reason being, he will note how Spurs were so easily cut open early on and how defensive uncertainty and moments of poor communication between goalkeeper Paulo and his backline threatened more problems.
He knew he had problems to solve when he succeeded Pochettino. Two wins from two will not blind him to the fact they still need addressing.