Uefa Champions League group B
Tottenham Hotspur 4 Olympiakos 2
Jose Mourinho enjoyed a rollercoaster night in north London as Tottenham qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League with a dramatic 4-2 defeat of Olympiakos.
The Greek side were two up inside 20 minutes to leave the home fans pining for Mauricio Pochettino as Mourinho seethed in the dugout at his side’s sloppy defending.
Goals from Youssef El-Arabi and Ruben Semedo had silenced the Spurs faithful, but Mourinho’s response was to send on Christian Eriksen for Eric Dier.
It was a bold call on 29 minutes but the real catalyst for Tottenham’s fightback was the shocking mistake from Yassine Meriah that gifted a goal to Dele Alli at the end of the first half.
Five minutes after the break they were level when Harry Kane drove home Lucas Moura’s cross and Serge Aurier then fired them ahead on 73 minutes with a crisp angled low drive.
Kane then sealed the victory with his second of the night and his 20th goal in the competition, a tally reached in just 24 matches, fewer than any other player in Champions League history.
The England captain, who broke Alessandro del Piero’s record, said: “Not a bad player to beat [Del Piero]. It was about qualifying, no matter how we did it but we had to win and we did that.”
With Bayern Munich running riot at Red Star Belgrade with a 6-0 rout, Tottenham are assured of finishing as runners-up in group B behind the Germans.
“We have qualified for the next round, that is the important thing for all of us at the club and the fans,” said Mourinho.
“It was hard, they are a good team, very well organised and they attacked our self-esteem and self-confidence.”
Brilliant ball boy
Asked what he had said to the players at half-time to produce such a transformation after the break, Mourinho replied: “I told them to keep calm, keep confident and believe in ourselves.”
While the Special One praised Kane for his achievement in surpassing Del Piero to become the fastest player to reach 20 Champions League goals, he reserved his warmest tribute for the ball boy whose quick-thinking in throwing the ball to Serge Aurier led to Kane’s equaliser.
“I love intelligent ball boys… and this kid today was brilliant,” said Mourinho, who gave the ball boy a celebratory hug. “He reads the game, understands the game and made an important assist.”
Man City, Juventus and PSG all through
In other games, Paris Saint-Germain came from 2-0 down to draw with Real Madrid and assure their progress into the knockout stage as group A winners.
Spaniards Real are also through but they will wonder how they allowed the French visitors to share the spoils after going 2-0 up through Karim Benzema’s brace.
Kylian Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia hauled PSG back into the game, but Gareth Bale almost won it for Real in injury time only for his free-kick to rattle the post.
Also through as group D winners are Juventus, thanks to a superb free-kick from Paulo Dybala that edged out Atletico Madrid.
Manchester City’s dour 1-1 draw at home to Shakhtar Donetsk means the Sky Blues are confirmed as the winners of group C.
“We are through in the Champions League, but there is still plenty of work to improve,” said City goalscorer Ilkay Gundogan. “Not results, but more the way we play.”