Mour­inho moves the goal­posts for Spurs

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Sam Dean

Another box ticked by Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur on this long road to the Europa League group stages, but only af­ter a re­mark­able episode in which Jose Mour­inho was forced to de­mand that the size of the goals was read­justed.

Tot­ten­ham truly are a long way from the lux­ury of the Cham­pi­ons League now. On this trip to face Shk­endija in Mace­do­nia, Mour­inho’s goal­keep­ers trot­ted out to warm up and im­me­di­ately felt that some­thing was wrong. “My goal­keep­ers told me that the goal was too small,” said the Tot­ten­ham head coach.

“I went by my­self and the goal was too small. I am not a goal­keeper, but when I spread my arms I know the dif­fer­ence. We got the Uefa del­e­gate to con­firm and, yes, it was 5cm smaller. Of course, we de­manded for the goals to be re­placed with goals of the right di­men­sion.”

Mour­inho has seen most things down the years, but he surely can­not have ex­pe­ri­enced this be­fore. “A funny sit­u­a­tion,” he said, un­clear whether it was an ac­ci­dent or skul­dug­gery. Fol­low­ing a swift in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the goals were promptly taken down by sta­dium staff and re­assem­bled at their proper height.

Tot­ten­ham will be thank­ful that they were, be­cause their task would have been made even more dif­fi­cult with smaller tar­gets to aim for. Once again Mour­inho’s side had a scare in Europe, and it took the in­tro­duc­tion of Harry Kane and Gio­vani Lo Celso for the match to be won.

This qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign has been far from glam­orous for Tot­ten­ham, and it was cer­tainly not ideal for Mour­inho that he was forced to use Kane in a sec­ond half that be­came much more nervy than it should have been.

In the end, their su­pe­ri­or­ity was never in doubt, but ques­tions will linger over Tot­ten­ham’s abil­ity to cre­ate chances against deep-ly­ing de­fences. Shk­endija of­fered so lit­tle in at­tack but they seized their one chance and, for a few min­utes at least, put gen­uine con­cern into the minds of Mour­inho and his play­ers.

Thank­fully for Tot­ten­ham, the re­li­able duo of Kane and Son He­ung-min com­bined once again to wres­tle the match back in the away side’s favour. Son put Tot­ten­ham back in front with 20 min­utes re­main­ing and then crossed for Kane to score the third.

It was a fine fin­ish to the match for the vis­i­tors, fol­low­ing a rapid start when Erik Lamela put them in front be­fore five min­utes had passed. In these open­ing stages

Shk­endija looked a lit­tle star-struck, some­how al­low­ing Lamela the free­dom of the penalty area. A sim­ple pass from Son picked him out, and his shot was steered into the cor­ner.

Shortly af­ter the break, though, Tot­ten­ham were sud­denly stung by the most un­ex­pected of equalis­ers.

Valmir Nafiu took aim from the edge of the box and un­leashed an un­stop­pable ef­fort into Joe Hart’s top cor­ner.

Mour­inho’s re­sponse was pre­dictable enough: Kane and Lo Celso were sum­moned from the bench. A few min­utes later, Kane missed a clear open­ing by head­ing wide from around six yards.

For­tu­nately for Mour­inho, Son was not quite so waste­ful. Lu­cas Moura’s shot was palmed into the path of the Korean, who steered home his fifth goal in five days. Son then crossed for Kane to put the game be­yond any doubt and en­sure the job was done.

Shk­endija (4-2-3-1) Za­hov 6; Mu­rati 6, Kri­vak 6, Be­j­tu­lai 6, Pavic 5; Totre 5, Dita 5 (Ze­jnul­lai 77); Nafiu 6 (Ra­ma­dini 85), Ahmedi 6, Doriev 5 (Merd­jani 85); Ibraimi 6.

Subs Sadriu, Neziri, Es Sah­hal, Red­jepi (g). Booked Be­j­tu­lai. Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur (4-2-3-1) Hart 6; Aurier 7, Sanchez 6, Alder­weireld 6, Davies 6; Winks 6 (Lo Celso 59), Ndombele 7; Lamela 7, Alli 6 (Kane 60), Berg­wijn 5 (Lu­cas 66); Son 8. Subs Lloris (g), Dier, Do­herty, Sis­soko. Booked Winks. Ref­eree Ali Pal­abiyik (Turkey).

Size mat­ters: Tot­ten­ham head coach Jose Mour­inho dis­cov­ers the goal is too small be­fore his side’s Europa League game in Mace­do­nia

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