Tottenham Hotspur’s resurgence under Jose Mourinho continues.
On Sunday, Spurs produced a stirring, rain-soaked 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers that allowed last year’s European runner-up to leapfrog both Wolves and Manchester United into fifth place in the Premier League table, with fourth-place Chelsea — Mourinho’s former club and Tottenham’s next opponent — just three points ahead of them.
Jan Vertonghen was the unlikely hero for Tottenham, the Belgian central defender heading home the game-winner in second half stoppage time to improve Mourinho’s record to 4-1 in the Prem since he replaced Mauricio Pochettino as manager last month:
Lucas Moura had gotten the visitors off to a quick start at Molineux. The Brazilian forward put Spurs ahead after just eight minutes with a pretty individual effort:
Tottenham took that slim 1-0 lead into the dressing room at halftime. But a single goal was never likely to be enough against a quality Wolves side that was playing at home and that has established itself as a top-half mainstay in recent years.
The hosts dominated possession as they chased the game. They produced 18 shots by the time it was over, and while only five of those were on target, it was no surprise when Adama Traoré pulled Wolves level in the 67th minute:
It was the sort of strike that would’ve knocked the stuffing out of Spurs toward the end of the Pochettino era. But Tottenham has looked like a different team under Mourinho, one that has already taken on the sometimes abrasive personality of its new coach.
Rather than hang their heads, Spurs dug in and pressed ahead instead. A draw would’ve been a respectable result, but as the game opened up over a highly entertaining final 20 minutes played in a torrential downpour, it was obvious that Mourinho was going for all three points.
It was a risky strategy. But it paid off handsomely in the end, when Wolves somehow allowed Vertonghen to wander unmarked toward the penalty spot before he finished past keeper Rui Patricio. Spurs are a team playing with confidence now. And while they haven’t been perfect under Mourinho — who lost to United in the Prem and Bayern Munich in the Champions League — he’s clearly helped restore Tottenham’s confidence in the short time he’s been at the helm.
There’s a lot of season left, of course. But suddenly, fourth place is in sight. Spurs will welcome a Chelsea side reeling from a terrible run of results in the Prem, most recently Saturday’s home loss to Bournemouth, and they’ll be the clear favorite to win next week’s match.
As controversial as Pochettino’s firing and the decision to hire Mourinho was, there’s no disputing the positive impact the switch has has made so far.
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