Spurs fight back to ensure Champions League progress

Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 Olympiacos

JOSE MOURINHO took charge of Spurs for the first time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, witnessing his side stage a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ recovery from two-goals down to ensure a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho – buoyed by a derby victory at West Ham – was clearly relishing the opportunity to lead Spurs into the next stage of the continents top club competition. Nevertheless, the new seemingly reinvented Jose was mindful of a potential banana skin: “We have to understand that it’s not an easy match, good opponent, a good coach who I know well,” he explained.

“We drew in Athens, that shows there is not a big gap between the two teams so a difficult one for us, but, hopefully, we can get the result we need to qualify.”

But Olympiacos themselves were keen to gatecrash the Mourinho party Paulo Gazzaniga was forced to fist clear from Giorgos Masouras in the opening exchanges. Then, with their next meaningful foray forward, the Greek champions took the lead.

Youssef El-Arabi’s stunning strike fizzed beyond Gazzaniga – certainly, this was not written into the pre-match script which had been received by those of a Spurs persuasion.

Jose Sá superbly kept out Heung-Min Son’s angled header goalwards as Spurs – clearly stunned – looked for an immediate response. But it had been an awkward, ragged start from the North Londoners, and before the twenty-minute mark, they found themselves further behind.

Ruben Semedo applied the simplest of finishes after Tottenham had dismally dawdled following Guilherme’s near-post flick. The mood had already turned very dark indeed!

Mourinho – never one to stand on ceremony – acted swiftly, replacing Eric Dier with Christian Eriksen with barely half an hour played. In the meantime, Harry Kane’s dead-ball attempt was a whisker away as the home side frantically searched for a lifeline.

And in first-half stoppage-time, a gift for Spurs. Dele swept home from close range after Olympiacos defender, Yassine Meriah, quite horrendously missed his kick from Serge Aurier’s low centre, the England-man had an open goal – game on!

Davinson Sanchez saw his header flash over the top, but within four minutes of the restart, Spurs were level. Kane arrived to apply the finishing touch after Lucas Moura had picked him out from the right – everything back on track for the Special One.

The game had become stretched and frenetic. Eriksen’s thundering free-kick was agonisingly close after Andreas Bouchalakis had felled Dele, but you sensed that Spurs now had the bit between their teeth. Dele picked our Aurier who’s right-footed volley simply fizzed into the net to complete a remarkable turnaround.

And Spurs weren’t finished. Eriksen’s delivery was on the money – Kane with the neat headed finish to all but seal the deal.

Spurs return to Premier League action on Saturday, November 30 when AFC Bournemouth are the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (3pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Paulo Gazzaniga, Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sánchez, Danny Rose, Eric Dier (Christian Eriksen 29’), Harry Winks, Lucas Moura (Moussa Sissoko 61’), Dele Alli (Tanguy Ndombele 83’), Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane (Capt) Subs not used: Jan Vertonghen, Giovani Lo Celso, Ryan Sessegnon, Brandon Austin (GK)

Booked: Toby Alderweireld (foul)
Goals: Dele Alli 45+1’, Harry Kane 50’, 77’, Serge Aurier 73’

Olympiacos: Jose Sá, Omar Elabdellaoui, Ruben Semedo, Yassine Meriah, Kostas Tsimikas, Mohamed Camara, Guilherme, Andreas Bouchalakis (Mathieu Valbuena 74’), Daniel Podence (Lazar Randjelovic 79’), Youssef El-Arabi (Angel Guerrero 85’), Giorgos Masouras Subs not used: Bobby Allain (GK), Yassine Benzia, Miguel Avraam Papadopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis

Booked: Ruben Semedo (foul), Andreas Bouchalakis (foul), Kostas Tsimikas (foul), Daniel Podence (foul)
Goals: Youssef El-Arabi 6’, Ruben Semedo 18’

Referee: Georgi Kabakov (Bulgaria)
Assistants: Martin Margaritov and Divan Valkov (Both Bulgaria)
Fourth Official: Nikola Popov (Bulgaria)

Attendance: 57,024

Reaction to follow…

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]