Mourinho stopped Tottenham's rot after two dire defeats – but it was not pretty

Jose Mourinho barely seemed to celebrate Carlos Vinicius’ first half opener.

Perhaps he was just relieved at watching Spurs score against the run of play after a lacklustre opening.

But the under-pressure Portuguese coach won’t need any reminding about the significance of this win.

Victory lifts Spurs to sixth, one point behind West Ham in fifth, and three off fourth-placed Chelsea.

But it also stops Mourinho’s stock slumping even lower after successive dire defeats to Arsenal and Dinamo Zagreb.

This was far from a fluent display as Mourinho continues to struggle to get the best out of all his attacking options with Gareth Bale an unused sub.

Mourinho's side battled to a much-needed victory at Villa Park
Mourinho’s side battled to a much-needed victory at Villa Park

But at least his Tottenham side showed fight, bottle and desire which were all alarming absent in Croatia in Spurs’ 3-0 second leg Europa League exit on Thursday night.

The visitors were hugely helped by Villa talisman Jack Grealish missing his latest game after putting off his comeback until after the international break.

Yet again Villa toiled in Grealish’s absence as their England newboy upfront Ollie Watkins had few chances.

England’s established forward Harry Kane sealed the victory by winning and converting a second half penalty.

And Mourinho must have been delighted by some brave late blocks by his side to prevent Villa getting back into the game in a late rally.

Vinicius tapped in a fine team move from close range to open the scoring
Vinicius tapped in a fine team move from close range to open the scoring

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He made his displeasure clear about their Dinamo Zagreb collapse with seven changes.

Villa made the more composed start but failed to create any clear cut chances without Grealish, who is at least back in training now.

Matt Targett got around the back of Spurs’ defence in the 20th minute to latch on to Bertrand Traore’s cross but Mourinho’s men cleared their lines.

Despite an unconvincing start, Spurs took the lead in the 29th minute when Vinicius tapped in for his first Premier League goal and his tenth in all competitions.

It came from a poor clearance from keeper Emiliano Martinez to a long ball under pressure from Vinicius, who was handful.

Kane sealed the three points from the penalty spot in the second half
Kane sealed the three points from the penalty spot in the second half

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Lucas Moura latched on to it, exchanged passes with Kane and crossed to leave Vinicius with a tap-in.

The Brazilian celebrated with glee after the visitors scored with their belated first shot on target.

Vinicius had another sight of goal in the 36th minute but this time Ezri Konsa made a good block.

After the break Martinez redeemed himself with a decent save to his left to deny Kane.

Villa tried to level as Trezeguet had a shot blocked by Joe Rodon from Morgan Sanson’s cut-back.

While sub Anwar El Ghazi hit the side-netting with an effort from outside the box.

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Yet Spurs sealed the win and made it 2-0 after Matty Cash caught Kane to concede a penalty.

The Spurs skipper stepped up to bury a right-foot spot-kick into the corner for his 27th of the season as Martinez went the wrong way in the 68th minute.

This time Mourinho was up off the bench clenching his fists as he must have sensed it would seal the points.

The match ended up highlighting Villa’s shortcomings more as they have now won just one in eight games without Grealish since being promoted in 2019.

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