Jose Mourinho conceded that while Southampton were the better side, his Tottenham team showed a lot more heart to win the close FA Cup tie. The North Londoners were second best for large parts of the fourth-round replay but eventually surged past thanks to goals from Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min.
Mourinho and his men looked to be on their way out of the competition despite taking the lead with goals from Shane Long and Danny Ings giving the Saints some breathing room. However, two goals in the final twenty minutes of the clash saw the North London side fly past Southampton and condemned them to a 3-2 defeat after an own goal from Jack Stephens saw Spurs take the lead.
But despite Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side losing, Mourinho went on to admit that his opponents were the better team and that he struggled to put out a proper playing eleven against the Saints. He also added that while the St Mary’s side were the better team, his side showed a lot more heart and passion to win the clash and that Spurs have a lot more work to do going forward.
"The best team lost. The best team on the pitch lost. If you look at it in a pragmatic way, forgetting that they had their best players, they had their full team, they had one more day to rest, we were really in trouble. We were in real, real trouble to build a team, lots of fatigue after the match against Manchester City... if you forget these important items and you analyse in a simple pragmatic way, the best team lost,” Mourinho said in his post-match press conference.
"They were better than us, they were faster than us, they were stronger physically than us. They press, they had intensity, they had chances. They were the best team, but I cannot forget all the other circumstances, and my players, they were phenomenal. The way they react was fantastic. They showed incredible heart and had a great connection with the crowd.”
Tottenham however, were without the injured Harry Kane, Giovani Lo Celso, Moussa Sissoko, Ben Davies and Erik Lamela. Furthermore, new signing Steven Bergwijn was ineligible and walked off against Manchester City with a hamstring issue while Dele Alli was not fit enough to make the start. However, he came off the bench to play his part. Following the victory, Mourinho went on to admit that he struggled to set out a team and added that he doesn’t have the players to change Tottenham.
"I had to manage this chess game without pieces. You know. No bishops, no kings, no queens. Very, very hard with so many injuries and problems. No Bergwijn. I cannot speak about the progression that I wanted because I do not have the players that I want. The team needs the players to progress collectively, tactically, dynamically. We need the players, we don't have the players. Hugo Lloris, Moussa Sissoko and then Harry Kane [out injured]. OK, just for today, but also Steven Bergwijn, Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela," he added.
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