‘Football happened’: Stunned Jose Mourinho concedes Tottenham were punished for thinking West Ham were dead and buried in six-goal thriller
- Tottenham blew a 3-0 lead to only draw with a resilient West Ham on Sunday
- Spurs stormed into the lead after 50 seconds and had three by 15 minutes
- However, despite Gareth Bale coming on, the Hammers made a late fight-back
- Jose Mourinho was frustrated by the defeat but took a philosophical view on it
Jose Mourinho conceded that Tottenham were punished for believing West Ham were dead and buried as his side surrendered a three-goal lead.
Three strikes in the final eight minutes – the last a Manuel Lanzini long-range thunderbolt with the last kick of the game – secured a breathtaking point for David Moyes’s men after Harry Kane and Son Heung-min had put Spurs 3-0 up by half-time.
Tottenham boss Mourinho refused to publicly criticise his team despite their calamitous capitulation but did indicate that he would read the riot act to his players privately.
Tottenham blew a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with West Ham after a late collapse on Sunday
Jose Mourinho was left stunned by the comeback after Spurs missed a chance to go second
However, the Special One admitted his players had paid a high price for presuming they were already home and dry.
‘I don’t think we believed that it could ever happen, what happened, and we were punished by that and punished by their belief,’ said the Portuguese.
‘It’s easier for me to praise them than criticise us. It’s easier for me to analyse internally and discuss with the players than speak about it and my feelings now. We were not good enough or strong enough to cope with the last 10 minutes.’
The hosts blazed ahead after only a minute and were in control at 3-0 after just 16 minutes
Gareth Bale made his first appearance since returning to Tottenham when he was introduced as a 72nd-minute substitute.
But his homecoming turned into a nightmare as West Ham produced their brilliant comeback during the time when he was on the pitch, and the Welshman also squandered a golden opportunity just moments before Lanzini’s equaliser.
On the matter of starting Bale on the bench, Mourinho added: ‘The decision not to start him was I think a good one, a decision to show that he doesn’t have a beautiful chair waiting for him in the team and he sits there the first time he can.
‘It was a message to the team that in this team everybody has to fight for positions.
‘He’s very well accepted in the group. Everyone likes him, and I believe he likes what he’s found here.’
Two late goals and a 94th minute thunderbolt from Manuel Lanzini levelled the scores
West Ham manager David Moyes said: ‘We are building a very strong team spirit, and our performances in recent weeks have been very good.
‘It’s one of the moments in football you don’t get very often, to be 3-0 down, to get back to 3-3 in the last 10 minutes.
‘The key was not to do anything stupid at half-time, make changes as everyone thinks that’s what you do when you’re 3-0 down.
‘Trying to win is really difficult, then when you get something from nowhere it gives you the emotions. That’s why you’re in it.
‘We never gave up, it was a really proud performance. We’re proud of what the players have done for West Ham.’
Mourinho could only assess that ‘football happened’ after the stunning comeback in his post-match media duties.
‘Of course I have to analyse the second-half and do it internally but I prefer to say that football happened and praise West Ham’s belief,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘I knew that they are a completely different team this season. It’s a big punishment to conceded three goals but in the end it’s deserved.
‘The context of the game was that it was in control. Kane and Bale could have killed the game and it was going more towards a fourth for us. But that’s football.
Tomas Soucek impressed for West Ham and Mourinho soon likened him to Marouane Fellaini
‘We didn’t drop off deliberately. Their belief went up and my guys were not strong enough to cope with it psychologically.
‘I told them to keep the same (at half-time) and be aware of lost of set-pieces. David found a new Fellaini in Tomas Soucek.
‘They were very lucky but they worked hard to be lucky and I praise them.’