LONDON (AFP) – Jose Mourinho claimed Tottenham paid the price for being “too nice” as Wolves came from behind to clinch a crucial 3-2 win in the race to qualify for the Champions League on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho’s side led twice in north London thanks to goals from Steven Bergwijn and Serge Aurier.
But Matt Doherty got Wolves’ first before second half goals from Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez overturned a 2-1 deficit in the second half.
It was a bitter blow for injury-hit Tottenham, who suffered three consecutive defeats in all competitions for the first time this season.
Wolves moved two points above Tottenham into sixth place in the Premier League and Mourinho fears his team’s hopes of Champions League qualification will be ruined unless they develop a more ruthless streak.
“It was a totally unfair result. But it is difficult to stop Wolves if you don’t have the mentality that they showed,” Mourinho said.
“In the first and last minutes they had fouls to stop the counter-attack. Wolves had the correct mentality.
“We were punished for quite a long time because we don’t have that aggression. We are too nice. That is the only thing that made the difference in the game.
“I cannot complain about their spirit, I can complain about some psychological characteristics that are very difficult to change.”
Injuries to Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and now goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who missed the Wolves game with a groin injury, have badly hampered Tottenham in recent weeks.
But, asked if the injuries had taken a toll, Mourinho said: “It would be too easy for me to say that. I try to forget the players that we are missing.
“It is frustration, not just for me but for the players. We recovered 11 points distance to fourth, then when we got to one point everything changed for us, but we have to keep fighting like we did today.”
On France keeper Lloris, Mourinho added: “It’s hard to say when he is going to be back. Is it a big problem? I don’t think it is but he was not ready to play today. We have to wait.”
– ‘Amazing energy’ –
As it stands, finishing fifth could lead to a Champions League place, owing to second placed Manchester City’s European ban, against which they are appealing.
Sitting level on points with fifth placed Manchester United and just three behind fourth placed Chelsea, Wolves are firmly in the hunt for an unexpected berth in Europe’s elite club competition.
Wolves have coped with a gruelling schedule that began back in July with their Europa League qualifiers and were good value for their vital win over Tottenham.
Nuno Espirito Santo said his players’ team spirit was the key to their fightback, with their never-say-die attitude driving Wolves’ success since they returned to the top-flight in 2018.
“We had good movements that achieved beautiful goals. We finished strongly. It was a good performance,” Nuno said.
“We have been able to come back many times since last season. We are relentless, we believe the game is still to be played.
“There is a good team spirit, the boys help each other in every aspect. That is something we must keep building.
“It’s amazing the energy levels we put in. We embraced the challenge in July to compete in every game. It doesn’t matter if it is 46, 47 or 48 games.”
At the third attempt, Nuno was able to celebrate a first victory over Mourinho, who was his manager when the Wolves boss was Porto’s reserve keeper during their 2004 Champions League winning campaign.
“It’s nothing special. I have huge admiration for Jose Mourinho, for me he is a reference,” Nuno said.