Jose Mourinho praised his players for standing firm against what he described as “monsters in the air” after Tottenham produced a second-half turnaround to see off Brighton and Hove Albion.
After losing 2-0 last time out to London rivals Chelsea, Spurs appeared in danger of suffering a second successive home defeat when they fell behind on Boxing Day, Adam Webster heading in a free-kick in the 37th minute.
However, Harry Kane – who had earlier seen a goal ruled out for offside – drew the hosts level before Dele Alli struck what turned out to be the winner with a wonderful 72nd-minute finish, much to the delight of the Spurs boss.
Mourinho felt his side had not played that badly before the break, but just needed to change “bits” to launch a comeback against a team who always posed a threat at set-pieces.
“Really happy with the second half. We changed bits. I’m not saying players – it was not about players – it was about bits. Those little things sometimes make a difference,” he told Amazon Prime.
“But in the first half it was not a disaster, it was not a bad performance. It was a difficult game against a good team.
“After a defeat is never easy, when you don’t start well after a defeat, I always think it affects the self-esteem and confidence. Then we conceded a goal from something in football that is very difficult to control.
“When you are exposed in the situation of lateral free-kicks and corners, it’s really hard. They are a very good football team, but they have three or four giants, really, really strong in the air.
“They are not a team that plays direct, they want to play nice, passing football, but you could see in the last 10 minutes that [Dan] Burn was a striker, and he is a two-metre target. Sometimes it is very, very difficult. They have monsters in the air.
“That [the opening goal] effected the team’s self-esteem, but I think also the goal disallowed by the VAR, which is by one inch but is offside, also affects [us].
“But, in the second half, the boys managed to put all the negativity aside and were very strong in their performance. It was a fantastic effort by everyone.”
8 – Tottenham boss José Mourinho has never lost in eight @premierleague games on Boxing Day (W6 D2), managing more games without defeat on the day than any other manager in the competition. Chosen. #TOTBHA pic.twitter.com/wHACPvFfIe
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2019
Alli has now been involved in eight goals in as many appearances since Mourinho’s appointment at Spurs, scoring five himself while providing three assists.
“Another goal and another incredible effort, performance,” Mourinho said of the in-form England international. “From the first to last minute, the way he worked was absolutely incredible.
“It was an amazing goal, but I go to the other small, big details. His attitude, his fighting spirit with the team was, for me, outstanding.”
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