Football

Mourinho on Leipzig match: Like fighting with a gun without bullets

Spurs manager promises fight in return leg at Leipzig

Jose Mourinho said Tottenham Hotspur are still alive in the Champions League, despite his side being outplayed by RB Leipzig in their 1-0 loss yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The illustrious Portuguese was eclipsed by Leipzig's 32-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann in the first leg of the last-16 tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The one surprise was that the visitors' only reward for a dominant display was Timo Werner's 58th-minute penalty.

"1-0 is 1-0, it's not 10-0. The result is open. It's as simple as that," said Mourinho, 57. "We won't be the first team to lose 1-0 at home and win the tie away."

Leipzig will need no reminding that Spurs produced some stunning away displays last season to reach the final, most notably when they lost 1-0 to Ajax Amsterdam at home in the semi-final and trailed 2-0 away before winning 3-2.

But they have regressed since and Mourinho's task has not been helped by injuries which deprived him of both leading strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung Min, and midfielder Moussa Sissoko against Leipzig.

They struggled to cope with the high-energy pressing game that is the trademark of Nagelsmann, described during his impressive tenure at Hoffenheim as the "mini Mourinho".

"We are in a very difficult situation. I'm so proud of the players and what worries me is this is the situation for the rest of the season," said Mourinho, who likened the match to "going to fight with a gun without bullets".

GAVE THEIR ALL

"(Lucas) Moura was absolutely dead, (Steven) Bergwijn was absolutely dead, (Giovani) Lo Celso was absolutely dead...

"If it was just this game, I'd say 'no problem', but we have FA Cup and Premier League games.

"But, speaking about the next game against Leipzig, I can guarantee we are going there to fight to our limits."

Nagelsmann said his side's failure to convert more of their 16 goal attempts (compared to Tottenham's 11) left the second leg on March 10 "complicated".

"In the second leg, we will do it, I promise you, in the same way," said Nagelsmann, who has also taken Leipzig to within a point of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

A frustrating outing for Tottenham, who face Chelsea tomorrow, was laid bare when Mourinho substituted Dele Alli after 64 minutes and the England midfielder responded by hurling his boot in anger.

"He was angry with his performance. Not with me. He understands why I took him off and the team improved," Mourinho said. - REUTERS

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