Jose Mourinho has suggested his Tottenham players lack motivation after seeing his side held to a 3-3 draw with LASK in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Spurs went into the match knowing a point would be enough to secure their passage to the knockout stages, yet they looked sluggish early on and were punished as their Austrian opponents took a deserved lead, midfielder Peter Michorl’s dipping long range effort evading the reach of ‘keeper Joe Hart who perhaps should have done better.
Fortunately for the former England number one, his side were soon back level on the stroke of half-time, as Gareth Bale calmly slotted home from the penalty spot after Andres Andrade was penalised for handball following a strike from Tanguy Ndombele. The visitors then took the lead just 10 minutes into the second half with a typical counter-attacking goal, as Heung-Min Son latched on to a Ndombele through ball before duly sliding his effort into the bottom corner.
The away side continued to toil as the game went on and even adopted a back five as they looked to hold on, yet were undone late on with Hart once again at fault, the ball squirming into the net after a decent strike from Johannes Eggestein. Just two minutes later, however, Spurs reclaimed their lead, this time substitute Dele Alli the goalscorer from the penalty spot after Steven Bergwijn had been brought down in the box.
The plucky hosts weren’t quite done, however, with Mamoudou Karamoko netting a wonderful curling equaliser in stoppage time after some lax defending from the away side. With the game ending in a draw Spurs did manage to qualify for the knockout stages with a game to spare, yet their limp performance left Mourinho questioning the attitude and desire of some his players when it comes to the Europa League.
“I think it’s a question of attitude, which I have experienced before even at Manchester United,” Mourinho told BT Sport.
“I had a similar situation – we lost two matches away in the group phase.
“When we get into the knockouts and you get better opponents and more difficulties, the team faces matches in a different way.”
The former Chelsea boss was asked what he’d learned about his side after seeing them twice squander the lead in Austria, and the 57-year-old revealed he wasn’t that surprised by what he’d seen from his players.
“Nothing new, really. The fact that the Europa League group phase doesn’t motivate some of the players, I knew it.”
It’s the North London derby next up for Tottenham, as they face Arsenal at home in the Premier League on Sunday.