José Mourinho attacks Spurs attitude after dismal Dinamo Zagreb defeat

Mislav Orsic’s stunning hat-trick gave Dinamo Zagreb a 3-0 second-leg win over a lacklustre Spurs, sealing a 3-2 victory on aggregate

José Mourinho lambasted the attitude of his players and apologised to fans after Tottenham were dumped out of the Europa League in humiliating fashion. Their trip to Zagreb was supposed to be little more than a formality after their two-goal win last week in the first leg but, four days after losing the north London derby, Spurs produced an anaemic display in perfect contrast to that of their hosts. Mislav Orsic’s magnificent hat-trick crowned a famous win for the Croatian champions.

“I’m disappointed with the difference of attitude between one team and the other,” Mourinho said after the 3-2 aggregate defeat. “I feel sorry that my team – I belong to that team – is the team that didn’t bring to the game not just the basics of football but, I believe, the basics of life, which is to respect our jobs and to give everything.

“I don’t need external critics because I feel deeply hurt with what happened with my team. I don’t want to say much more than that. On behalf of my team, in spite of some of them maybe not sharing my feelings and emotions, I can only apologise to the Tottenham supporters.”

Mourinho went into the Dinamo dressing room after the match to congratulate the hosts on their deserved victory. But he accused his own players of being unprofessional. “[Dinamo] played with a lot of desire. I can also call it professionalism, because for me professionalism starts with the attitude,” he said, adding he felt “more than sad” that his players “did not look like they were playing in an important match”.

Yet this was a critical match for Spurs and their manager. On the only previous occasion that Mourinho, who is more accustomed to the Champions League, had taken part in this tournament, he lifted the trophy with Manchester United. He had high hopes of doing the same with Spurs, who hired him for his prize-winning pedigree. But his team have been ousted by a club going to the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time. Spurs’ season is unravelling. The pressure to salvage pride by beating Manchester City in next month’s Carabao Cup final has risen. They will have to play far better.

Spurs have contested more matches this season than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues, and that would offer an excuse for their feeble showing in Zagreb if they were not a very rich club with a squad that should cope. Mourinho made seven changes to the lineup that started on Sunday in the defeat by Arsenal but still began with nine players who had begun the first leg, in which Spurs cantered to a two-goal lead. But they were never in control in this second leg, starting so tentatively that it seemed to incite their opponents.

José Mourinho congratulates Dinamo Zagreb players after Spurs’ extra-time defeat.
José Mourinho congratulates Dinamo Zagreb players after Spurs’ extra-time defeat. Photograph: Getty Images

Spurs showed little inventiveness but control and dynamism were the qualities most lacking. In the 35th minute Dinamo worked their way through them, aided by a slip by Davinson Sánchez, but Lovro Majer drilled wide from the edge of the box. One minute later Sánchez slid in to Spurs’ rescue, hooking the ball away from Arijan Ademi in front of goal after a cute pass by Majer.

Dinamo’s increasingly nimble attacking left them open to counteroffensives. Spurs did not muster many, but Lucas Moura set Harry Kane up for a chance just before the break. The goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic rushed out to smother the shot.

Tottenham remained sluggish after the break as Dinamo kept buzzing forward. Ademi was left free from a corner in the 52nd minute but sent a downward header bouncing into the arms of Hugo Lloris.

Gareth Bale was introduced before the hour as Mourinho tried to give Tottenham more thrust, but within moments they fell behind to a beautiful goal. Majer burst through Spurs’ pedestrian midfield and passed to Orsic on the left. The winger duped Serge Aurier by cutting back on to his right foot and curling a delicious shot from the corner of the box into the far corner of the net.

Mourinho threw on Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele to try to reverse the flow. But a Dinamo substitute, Iyayi Atiemwen, made a bigger impact. He joined in an intricate move to feed Orsic, who darted into the box as Moussa Sissoko dawdled and then swept the equaliser into the net from 10 yards.

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Spurs had to rally to save their campaign. They nearly did so in the 89th minute but Kévin Théophile‑Catherine cleared a Kane header off the line to force extra-time. Dinamo had 30 minutes to achieve glory, Spurs half an hour to avert ignominy. The game grew tense and chaotic. Both sides created chances, but the hosts still thought more clearly and acted more sharply.

In the first minute of the second period of extra-time, Orsic completed his superb hat-trick. After receiving the ball more than 30 yards out, he zigzagged between Aurier, Sissoko and Ndombele and then crowned the run with an explosive finish, thrashing the ball past Lloris from 20 yards.

Mourinho said Orsic’s goals came as no surprise, that Spurs’ analysts had forewarned the players. “I prepared my players to play against Orsic, I gave them all the information about him. So I don’t know what else to say.”


Paul Doyle

The GuardianTramp

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