Harry Kane and Dele Alli were scathing of Tottenham’s first-half display in Tuesday’s 4-2 Champions League comeback win over Olympiacos, convinced they could not have played worse before the break.
A wretched start left Spurs trailing 2-0 after 19 minutes, with Youssef El-Arabi and Ruben Semedo getting the goals as Jose Mourinho’s first home match in charge looked set to be a miserable one.
But Alli pulled one back late in the first half and Kane restored parity early in the second, later getting another after Serge Aurier’s rasping strike had handed the hosts the advantage.
The 29th-minute introduction of Christian Eriksen for Eric Dier seemed to be a turning point, though Alli accepts he would have been just as deserving of an early withdrawal.
“I suppose we were losing and the manager made a decision to bring on more of a forward-thinking midfielder and to be honest it could’ve been any of us to come off in that first 20 minutes, especially myself,” he told BT Sport.
“I thought I was awful in that first 20 minutes, but it’s a team game and thankfully it [the change] worked.
“We didn’t start anywhere near good enough, we said at half-time we couldn’t perform any worse than we did in the first half, which was obviously a good thing to take into the second half, knowing we could only get better.”
Captain Kane added: “We needed to be calm, we had just scored and got into the game, but we needed to be calmer on the ball, didn’t have to rush it. There was 45 minutes left so we didn’t have to get the goal straight away.
“We knew it couldn’t get any worse than how we had played [in the first half], so we just went out there with a bit more freedom and that’s definitely what we did.”
Victory for Spurs confirmed their place in the knockout phase of the competition, but top spot is beyond them as Bayern Munich – whom they face in their final group outing – are five points ahead.