Tuesday 10 March 2020 10:32 pm

RB Leipzig 3-0 Tottenham: Meek Spurs dumped out of the Champions League as pressure mounts on Mourinho

This time there was no comeback.

Lucas Moura, the hat-trick hero of that famous night in Amsterdam 10 months ago, was on the pitch for Tottenham, but the magic of that Champions League semi-final second leg was nowhere to be seen in Leipzig tonight.

That was to be expected. Even before kick-off in east Germany it seemed a tall order for Tottenham. They had a 1-0 deficit to make up, having been outplayed in their own stadium by the Champions League knockout stage newcomers.

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The boundless optimism, that feeling that anything could happen, that no obstacle was insurmountable which defined last season’s run to the final is gone. It has been replaced by a glass-half-empty philosophy, which originates from the manager. 

Given the extenuating circumstances – which Jose Mourinho has spent his every breath emphasising – it would have taken an almighty effort to turn things around. In the event there was plenty of effort, but nowhere near enough quality to pull off the upset.

Firepower lacking

With no Harry Kane, Son Heung-min or even Steven Bergwijn to call upon, the firepower Spurs needed to breach RB Leipzig’s defences was sorely lacking. 

Dele Alli did his best in a false No9 position, producing neat flicks and backheels to his supporting cast of Moura and Erik Lamela. But almost every effort at link-up play led to nothing, as Leipzig’s well-drilled back three swept up Spurs’ attacks.

Dele Alli
Alli had the unenviably task of leading Spurs’ line (via Getty Images)

The most goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi had to do was parry away a curling effort from Giovani Lo Celso in the first half. 

There was no surge, no momentum build-up and little threat overall. Ultimately Spurs accepted defeat, with Mourinho waving the white flag in the 80th minute by substituting Lo Celso ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Manchester United.

Lloris loses grip

Whether Mourinho truly believed his side could do it is up for debate, but his run of Champions League knockout games without a win was on the way to being extended to eight matches after just 10 minutes.

Spurs’ defence dropped off Timo Werner and although his attempt was blocked by Eric Dier it rebounded and the striker squared for Marcel Sabitzer to shoot. The Leipzig captain’s shot was well-directed, but its lack of power shouldn’t have beaten Hugo Lloris and ended up in the Spurs net.

Hugo Lloris
Lloris was at fault for Leipzig’s opening two goals (via Getty Images)

Werner nearly made it 2-0 minutes later as Angelino charged forward and crossed for the 24-year-old to tap in, but what would have been his 28th club goal of the season was ruled out by the offside flag.

Not that it mattered. Two minutes later Serge Aurier misjudged a simple header, allowing Angelino in behind to pick out Sabitzer at the near post. His header caught out Lloris once again, sparking the PA system to rub salt in the wounds by blaring out “I Feel Good” by James Brown for a second time.

No excuses

Leipzig held a 3-0 lead on aggregate at half-time and both sides seemed to have accepted the tie’s result was now a foregone conclusion.

The final 45 minutes played out at a fraction of the intensity of the first before yet more misery was heaped on Spurs, Emil Forsberg finding the bottom corner from a loose ball with his first touch 32 seconds after coming off the bench.

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho was left with no excuses to hide behind after his side were hammered (via Getty Images)

As the disappointed players traipsed off the pitch having been thoroughly outplayed for 180 minutes there were no injustices to hide behind. No refereeing decisions by which to deflect. No VAR controversy to pore over. 

The question for Tottenham is: where now? Because even withstanding their injury problems, their regression is undeniable. Their fifth defeat in the last three weeks leaves them out of all cup competitions and with just league position to fight for.

In his current malaise he hardly seems a man capable of delivering a stirring speech, but Mourinho desperately needs to find a way to spark a revival, starting against his former club on Sunday.

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