Jose Mourinho was pleased with the performances of out-of-favour duo Gareth Bale and Dele Alli as Tottenham all but put themselves into the next ro
Jose Mourinho was pleased with the performances of out-of-favour duo Gareth Bale and Dele Alli as Tottenham all but put themselves into the next round of the Europa League on Thursday night. Spurs were 4-1 winners against Wolfsberger in the first leg of their last 32 clash.
On-loan attacker Bale made just his third start across all competitions in 2021 and produced a goal an and an assist from the right-hand side.
Alli played in his favoured No 10 role, making just his fourth appearance in the New Year, and while he did not directly contribute to a goal, served up an encouraging display.
The duo have struggled to assert themselves this season despite the fanfare around Bale’s return from Real Madrid on loan and Alli having been standout performer under Mauricio Pochettino.
But the England international has begun to feature again under Mourinho of late, having previously been frozen out, while Bale indicated here that he can still decide matches, scoring a sublime effort.
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And Mourinho said of the attacking pair: “I think we have one foot in the next round. I liked the performance in the first half. The performance in the second half gave them [Wolfsberger] a little bit of self esteem.
“We had a result and we had a team performance. I believe they were positive like the team was.
“I took Gareth off. I know in this process it was not so easy to play the 90 minutes. Dele worked hard.
“He got a yellow card and with the referee giving yellow cards so easily to us I didn’t want to risk it.”
The Portuguese coach, who has come under pressure over his future of late with Spurs struggling in the Premier League and being dumped out of the FA Cup, even hinted Bale could start at West Ham this weekend.
“I know that the match is already Sunday at 12pm but I believe that he has a chance to play the match and let’s wait,” Mourinho said of the Welshman.
“He’s the kind of player also, who is experienced and his feeling are a very important thing, like Harry Kane. I believe for him it was important to play and not to play the full 90 minutes.”
Tottenham put one foot into the last 16 of the Europa League thanks to their four-goal haul in Hungary’s Puskas Arena, where Liverpool were in Champions League action earlier in the week.
Son Heung-min, Bale and Lucas Moura had Spurs 3-0 up after just 34 minutes before Michael Liendl scored a penalty for the Austrian side.
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But Carlos Vinicius made it 4-1 off the bench late on as Spurs wrapped up a comprehensive win that makes them massive favourites to progress to the next stage.
They had to win without star striker Harry Kane due to injury but Mourinho is hopeful he will have his captain to call upon against the Hammers this weekend.
“I believe so,” he said when asked if Kane will be fit. “But experienced guy that had injuries in the past, he knows his body better than anyone, he knows I want him to play every minute of every game.
“I wanted to come here with the best team and the players. But he made the decision based on his feeling that to play this game could be a risk based on the accumulation of injuries and minutes he has.
“We and the sports science staff agreed. I believe Sunday he will be OK and ready.”
Spurs and Wolfsberger go head-to-head again next Wednesday (5pm) with the draw for the last 16 then taking place on Friday February 26.
Before the second leg, Spurs travel to West Ham this Sunday for a London derby clash that could be key to their top-four hopes (12pm).
Mourinho’s charges are ninth and six points off of fourth-placed Chelsea albeit having played one match less than Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.