Jose Mourinho was proud of his side’s ‘reaction’ as Tottenham moved up to second in the table, courtesy of a battling 2-1 win over Brighton on Sunday evening.
Mourinho’s side were humbled in midweek after a 1-0 defeat to Belgian side Antwerp in the Europa League, yet were quickly ahead against the Seagulls, Harry Kane converting from the penalty spot after Adam Lallana was deemed to have fouled the England captain just inside the penalty area.
Despite falling behind against their highly rated opponents the visitors did not crumble and thought they should have had a penalty of their own on 23 minutes after Leandro Trossard went down in the box, courtesy of a challenge from Matt Doherty.
While VAR ruled against them on that occasion, it was in their favour early in the second half as Tariq Lamptey fired home a deserved equaliser, despite the hosts protesting that Solly March had fouled Pierre-Emile Hojberg in the build-up. After a long VAR check the goal was given, with Lamptey netting his first career goal.
With Spurs in search of a winner Mourinho turned to Gareth Bale from the bench and the move almost paid instant dividends as the Welshman’s flicked header found Kane at the backpost, who then inexplicably struck the post from close range. The home side did go ahead just two minutes later, however, with a goal made in Madrid, as Bale headed home from a Sergio Reguilon cross to score his first for the club since his high profile return in the summer.
That winner put Tottenham just two points behind leaders Liverpool after seven games and boss Mourinho was particularly delighted with his side’s response to Brighton’s equaliser, while also commending his opponent’s performance.
“I was not surprised because I knew they were a very good team, with a good coach capable of doing what they did. Graham Potter is a very good coach,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“They have lots of good players and they caused us some difficulties. I believe it is more fair to say the teams with less history and stature if you want to say, they are getting better and better.
“It was a great reaction after they equalised, we hit the post twice, score and after that it was a question of managing the game well, like we didn’t against West Ham.”
70’: Subbed in at 1-1
73’: Scores his first goal since returning to Spurs
Gareth Bale. Impact 💥 pic.twitter.com/vnAo6kkEhe
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 1, 2020
One major controversy in the game was the away side’s equaliser, with the Spurs players convinced that March had indeed fouled Hojberg in the build-up to the goal. While referee Graham Scott did consult the pitchside monitor he did not alter his decision and Mourinho hinted at his frustrations with the goal and the use of VAR.
“I have to try and stay away from this. I don’t know what to say at the moment. My opinion is that I miss my old football, but with goal-line technology because it is obvious that it helps the game.”
The big story of the game, however, was, of course, Bale’s first goal for the club since his return from Real Madrid and his new manager insisted that the Welshman is “improving” despite not being at full fitness.
”I know for a couple of weeks that I am telling you that Gary [Bale] is improving,” the Portuguese coach said.
“I know he doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs and the good thing with him is he is very intelligent, experienced and he understands and we have dialogue to choose what is best for the team.
“In the Premier League today he came and scored a winning goal which is great feeling for the team, him and the fans. We keep fighting and we are in a good position in the table.”
Tottenham face a trip away to Ludogorets in the Europa League on Thursday, before a Premier League clash with struggling West Brom on Saturday.