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Mourinho calls out Ndombele after Spurs draw 1-1 at Burnley

March 7, 2020 GMT
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Tottenham Hotspur's Erik Lamela, left, and Burnley's James Tarkowski battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match at Turf Moor, Burnley, England, Saturday March 7, 2020. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)
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Tottenham Hotspur's Erik Lamela, left, and Burnley's James Tarkowski battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match at Turf Moor, Burnley, England, Saturday March 7, 2020. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)

BURNLEY, England (AP) — Jose Mourinho delivered a withering critique of Tottenham record-signing Tanguy Ndombele after a dire first-half showing from his side in the 1-1 draw at Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday.

Ndombele joined from Lyon last year in a deal that could eventually be worth 70 million euros ($79 million) but the midfielder has failed to establish himself in his first season.

He sparked Mourinho’s ire after Tottenham was outplayed in the opening 45 minutes by Burnley, which had gone ahead early on through Chris Wood.

Ndombele was substituted at halftime alongside fellow midfielder Oliver Skipp but Mourinho absolved the teenager of any blame, instead criticizing the Frenchman before demanding more of a return from him. Giovani Lo Celso and Lucas Moura came on in their place.

“My thinking was in the first half we didn’t have a midfield, it’s as simple as that,” Mourinho said. “More important than tactics is to have midfield players that want the ball, who connect the game, who press, who recover the ball, win duels and we didn’t have it. I’m not critical with Skipp at all.

“I’m not going to run away and I have to say that Tanguy has had enough time to come to a different level. I know that the Premier League is very difficult, I know that some players take time, some players take a long time to adapt to a different league. But a player with his potential, with his responsibility, I think he has to give us more than he is giving us.”

The introduction of Lo Celso proved a masterstroke as the midfielder seized the ball from Jay Rodriguez before laying off for Erik Lamela, who went over the trailing leg of Ben Mee inside the area.

In the absence of injured strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Dele Alli slotted in the resulting penalty from the spot, sending Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope the wrong way, for his 50th Premier League goal.

Alli’s strike helped Spurs to avoid a third successive top-flight loss. The visitors were grateful for Eric Dier’s last-ditch challenge denying Matej Vydra, who then saw a late strike saved at point blank range from Hugo Lloris.

“I was expecting more in the first half but the second half was really good,” Mourinho said. “I’m pleased with the reaction and pleased with the attitude.”

Dier, as anticipated, started despite the furore which saw him climb into the stands to confront a fan in the aftermath of Tottenham going out of the FA Cup to Norwich on Wednesday.

He was subjected to some taunts from the home end but Mourinho was pleased with how the England international handled himself.

“You could see that his performance was really solid again and completely under emotional control,” Mourinho said. “He played well at center-back and played very well in midfield. So I’m very happy with Eric, of course.”

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