WOLVERHAMPTON, Dec 16 — A key ingredient of the Chelsea sides Jose Mourinho led to three Premier League titles was an ability to eke out victories even when second-best on the day and Tottenham Hotspur demonstrated that handy knack yesterday.
Despite Lucas Moura’s early opener for Mourinho’s Tottenham at Wolverhampton Wanderers, they were under the cosh for most of the match and when Adama Traore equalised midway through the second half Wolves looked favourites for the three points.
But Jan Vertonghen popped up to score from Christian Eriksen’s corner in stoppage time to push Tottenham into fifth place, three points behind Chelsea who they host next weekend.
Some might call it lucky, but Mourinho preferred to praise the “team ethic” that helped his side weather the storm on a rainy afternoon in the west Midlands.
“It’s one of these victories where quality is not enough,” Mourinho told reporters. “If you are not a team, a real team in the sense of what the word team means it’s impossible.”
Tottenham had only won three matches in their opening 12 league matches and were 11 points off the top four but have won four of the five under Mourinho and secured a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
His defence often lived on the edge against Wolves but avoided any of the mishaps that were becoming commonplace earlier in the season. When Wolves did get through, they found Spurs keeper Paulo Gazzaniga in inspired from.
The Argentine made one great save late on to deny Romain Saiss and Mourinho was full of praise for the man standing in for the injured Hugo Lloris.
“Magic hands,” Mourinho remarked. “My father played in this stadium against Wolves in the Uefa Cup as goalkeeper. He was always telling me, a goalkeeper of a top team had to be different to the others because the goalkeeper of a top team doesn’t have 10 saves to make. You have one, but when the one comes the magic hands have to be there and Paulo did it for us.”
Mourinho had words of encouragement for Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, whose side’s 11-match unbeaten league run came to an end, to leave them in eighth spot.
“They are very, very good. I said that before the match and I say the same after the match,” Mourinho said of Wolves.
“They are very difficult to play against. It’s my feeling that they are there with us, Chelsea, United, Arsenal, with us fighting for top six and smelling the top four.
“I think that’s what they do.” — Reuters