Harry Kane bettered Alessandro del Piero’s landmark and Dele Alli continued his return to form – but there was an unexpected recipient of Jose Mourinho’s praise after Tottenham’s Champions League win over Olympiakos.
Spurs trailed 2-0 after 19 minutes but Kane scored twice, with Alli and Serge Aurier also netting as they reached the knockout stages in Mourinho’s first home game.
The turnaround was helped, as the former Manchester United boss was quick to point out afterwards, by a quick-thinking ball boy. With Spurs trailing 2-1 and Olympiakos attempting to regroup as the ball drifted out of play, the youngster quickly launched a ball to Serge Aurier, whose throw-in down the wing found Lucas Moura and the Brazilian picked out Kane for the equaliser.
“I love intelligent ball boys like I was. I was a brilliant ball boy as a kid,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “And this kid today was brilliant. He reads the game, understands the game and made an important assist.
“He’s not there just to look to the stands, lights or scarves. He’s living the game and playing it very well.”
The Portuguese – who has won both games as Spurs boss so far – sought out the ball boy after the goal celebrations to shake his hand and give him a hug.
Mourinho told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I tried to invite him into the dressing room after the game to celebrate with the team but he’d slipped away.”
Mourinho apologises to Dier
Mourinho apologised to Eric Dier for replacing the holding midfielder with the more attacking Christian Eriksen after only 29 minutes with Spurs trailing 2-0.
He tried to sign Dier – who completed 10 of his 11 passes – while he was Manchester United boss.
“The most difficult moment of the game for me was not when Olympiakos scored their first or second goal. It was when I made the change in the first half,” he said.
“I hurt the player but hurt myself. He’s a very intelligent boy who has a good understanding of what a team is. It wasn’t about his performance, it was about what the team needed.
“I felt one midfield player was enough. We needed a second creative player who could play with Alli in an open triangle and not a closed triangle with Dier and Harry Winks. I apologised to him, although he knows I did it for the team. Christian gave us what we needed.”
‘Not a bad player to beat’ – Kane on bettering Del Piero
Kane’s double took him up to 20 Champions League goals in 24 games. Nobody had ever reached that mark so quickly.
The previous record was Italy legend Del Piero’s 26 games for Juventus. He would end his career on 42 Champions League goals, all for Juve.
Ruud van Nistelrooy took 27 matches, with Filippo Inzaghi needing 28 games and Mario Gomez next on the list with 32.
“Not a bad player to beat,” said Kane afterwards. “It was about qualifying, no matter how we did it but we had to win and we did that.”