By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Jose Mourinho’s first home game as Tottenham Hotspur manager suffered a false-start but ended in victory as his side recovered a two-goal deficit to beat Olympiakos Piraeus 4-2 and reach the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
Olympiakos, bottom of Group B, stunned the hosts with goals by Youssef El Arabi and Ruben Sabedo inside the opening 20 minutes but Tottenham responded to sweep the Greeks aside.
Dele Alli’s goal on the stroke of halftime proved crucial and two goals from Harry Kane and one from Serge Aurier after the break made sure Spurs will finish runners-up in the group.
Kane’s second of the night meant he reached 20 Champions League goals in a record 24 games, hitting the mark faster than the previous best of 26 matches by Alessandro Del Piero.
Six days after Mourinho was hired following the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino, the Portuguese two-time Champions League winner has already won two games and while the fans were not exactly singing his name, they went home happy.
There was little fanfare as Mourinho took his place on the Spurs bench before kick off and the mood around the stadium was flat.
Olympiakos took the lead in the fifth minute when Danny Rose’s attempted clearance was gathered by El Arabi and the Moroccan cut in from the right before sending a fizzing low drive from 25 metres past Paulo Gazzaniga.
The hosts responded with Son Heung-min’s glancing header producing a fine save from Jose Sa.
However, Olympiakos were livelier and sharper and Daniel Podence looked poised to make it 2-0 before Davinson Sanchez’s last-ditch block.
It did get worse though for Spurs in the 19th minute when Portuguese centre back Sabedo poked home to make it 2-0 from a corner.
Mourinho’s patience ran out and he sent on Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen for holding midfielder Eric Dier.
There was no immediate improvement but Alli halved the deficit on the stroke of halftime with a tap-in after defender Yassine Meriah swung and missed at a clearance.
Five minutes after halftime, Tottenham were level as Lucas Moura cut the ball back for Kane to fire home — Mourinho pumping his fists in the technical area.
“It was a disappointing start, we know we didn’t come out with any energy. They got the early goal and then got the second and it was uphill from there,” Kane said.
“The goal just before halftime changed the momentum. We knew we couldn’t play any worse than we did in the first half.”
Spurs suddenly looked a different team and swept forward at will against the fading Greeks.
They went ahead in the 73rd minute when Aurier connected sweetly to thrash home a right-footed volley from an angle.
Kane effectively sealed the points five minutes later when he headed in Eriksen’s dangerous delivery — his 23rd goal in 23 games in all competitions for club and country this season.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)