Date published: Thursday 1st October 2020 10:38
Jose Mourinho insisted the result was the most important thing after a “strange” Europa League play-off tie ended in victory for Tottenham.
Harry Kane scored a hat-trick as Spurs confirmed their place in the Europa League group stage with a 7-2 win over Maccabi Haifa.
It brings an end to a gruelling run of qualifiers for Mourinho’s men, who also overcame Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Bulgaria and Shkendija in Macedonia on their journey to the group stages.
And despite the huge scoreline against Maccabi Haifa, Mourinho admitted that their performance wasn’t the best – but he was pleased to have got the job done.
He told Premier Sports: “We didn’t play amazing, the game was a bit strange, it was too open.
“In my opinion, they were too adventurous to play against a team of a different level and we punished them in this kind of transition situations.
“But at the same time, we were not very compact. We didn’t press very well. I think with early goals, the team lost a little bit of focus.
“Job done, not three good opponents, but difficult to travel to go to knockout matches, only one game in empty stadiums.
“So job done, we are in the group phase.
“The important thing was to go through. Even in Macedonia, Bulgaria – not great matches, but just the results to go.
“Group phase is a different competition, let’s say. Six matches, home, away – different.
“And if you manage to progress in the group phase, then the knockout will be high level with the teams coming from the Champions League, and then the motivation will be high.
“But with all these matches in this incredible week, we managed to go through in two competitions, and we have our last match on Sunday and of course a difficult one.”
Mourinho jokes about Kane hat-trick
There was another hat-trick for Kane, who netted a treble for the 15th time in his career.
And Mourinho joked about how used to getting hat-tricks the striker is by now.
“He’s scored so many hat-tricks that I don’t even believe that he keeps every ball at home,” Mourinho said.
“But it’s always nice to score. It was good that we managed to save him 15 minutes, and of course, again, the team is the most important thing and we did it.”
There was also a cameo for Dele Alli in the second half, after Mourinho had left him out of some recent squads.
The midfielder scored the final goal of the game after converting a penalty he had won himself – and Mourinho admitted he was impressed by Alli’s impact.
“Yeah, he was good,” he said. “He came well into the game and the action for the penalty is a beautiful one.
“In a short space, he gets very, very well in there and then he was serious and cool and professional. He took it well.”