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Sorry Spurs sunk by Dinamo Zagreb

Mourinho 'more than sad' after Tottenham are dumped out of the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb

18 March, 2021 — By Dan Carrier

Is Jose Mourinho really the right man to bring success to Spurs?

Europa League: Round of 16 – Second-Leg

DINAMO ZAGREB 3 (Orsic 62, 83, 106)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS 0
Zagreb win 3-2 on aggregate

SPURS crashed out of the Europa League tonight (Thursday) after Dinamo Zagreb pulled off a stunning come back.

Trailing by two goals on aggregate following last week’s tie in north London, the Croatian side won 3-0 courtesy of a tremendous hat-trick from winger Mislav Orsic.

For Tottenham, the gut-wrenching defeat can’t help but raise further questions as to why and how this expensive bunch of players can regularly look like such a collection of disinterested misfits.

Time and again this season, when it really matters, Jose Mourinho’s squad has choked.

They failed to turn up for Sunday’s north London derby, losing 2-1 against Arsenal despite heading into the game on the back of five straight wins.

When they had the chance to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League table in late November, they served up a performance against Chelsea that was so insipid it was a mystery how they had managed to clamber so high in the first place.

And now, this: the most realistic route into the Champions League next season – a competition the higher echelons of this squad need to be appearing in – has been swept away by their own collective inadequacies.

Speaking after the match, Mourinho questioned his players mentality, saying: “Football is not about players that think they have more quality than others. The basics go beyond that. The basic in football is attitude, and they beat us on that.”

The Spurs boss said at half-time, with the score at 0-0, that he had warned his players they needed to come out of their shells.

Instead, he watched a further 75 minutes that once again raises the question whether chairman Daniel Levy was right to sack Mauricio Pochettino 18 months ago, and whether Mourinho really is the right man to bring some success to Spurs.

Mourinho added: “I believe the players only realised the risk when they scored the second goal and the tie went into extra-time.”

Making seven changes from the north London derby defeat, Mourinho started with a line-up of squad players coming in for first choice league starters.

Such a selection, with Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko and Ben Davies getting the nod, struggled against weaker sides in the early rounds, but no doubt Mourinho hoped to engage Zagreb in a war of attrition that would ease Tottenham through.

After weathering a bright first-half from Zagreb, Spurs looked like they were going to sit it out, and maybe grab a crucial away goal, too, when they cared to venture forward.

But Orsic was going to show them otherwise.

His first goal was a delightful effort: on 62 minutes the winger cut inside right-back Serge Aurier, had a look at what was on, and then curled a beauty past Hugo Lloris from distance.

Orsic’s second, with just eight minutes of the 90 remaining, was a neat finish from inside the box, while his hat-trick goal was worthy of winning any cup tie.

Moments after the second period of extra-time had got underway, Orsic ran through the centre of Tottenham’s midfield, evaded four belated challenges and thumped home in style, picking out Lloris’s far corner.

Spurs, at last, woke from their slumber and tried to conjure up an answer: the realisation that they had seriously blown it finally bringing some urgency to their play.

Substitute Carlos Vinicius worked keeper Dominik Livakovic, while Harry Kane and Gareth Bale saw the Croatian shot-stopper make two superb late saves from close range.

As we have seen frequently this season, Spurs began huffing and puffing, and might have nicked an aggregate equaliser in a frantic last 10 minutes – but they decided to apply a sense of urgency far too late.

Mourinho warned before the game a 2-0 lead in Europe with an away tie to come was not a case of game over – but he could not have expected his side to disappear quite so completely tonight.

Zagreb gave Spurs a lesson in how playing with passion and application is the surest way of winning football matches, and without that, no matter how much talent you have, you are going home empty-handed.

DINAMO ZAGREB: Livakovi, Ristovski (Stojanovic, 90), Lauritsen, Theophile-Catherine, Franjic (Leovac, 81), Majer (Gavranovic, 81), Ademi (Peric, 118), Jakic (Atiemwem, 75), Ivanusec, Petkovic (Misic, 90), Orsic
Substitutes not used: Zagorac, Cabraja, Kastrati, Tolic, Burton, Josipovic

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Lloris, Aurier (Bergwijn, 108), Sanchez, Dier, Davies (Reguilon, 90), Sissoko, Winks (Ndombele, 68), Lamela (Bale, 60), Alli (Lo Celso, 68), Moura (Vinicius, 85), Kane
Substitutes not used: Hart, Tanganga, Lavinier, Doherty, Alderweireld, Scarlett

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