Dele Alli did not disappoint Tottenham Hotspur coach Jose Mourinho who decided to start him on Wednesday against Wolfsberger in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32. The 24-year-old English attacking midfielder gave Tottenham an early lead with a beautiful bicycle kick in the 10th minute of the match.
When the team list for the match was announced ahead of the game, most football fans were surprised that Jose Mourinho decided to settle for Dele Alli in a knockout match.
Recall that the Portuguese tactician has been very critical about the work ethics of the out of favor England international. Since he came to the club in the middle of the 2019-2020 season, Mourinho hardly plays Alli.
Before Mourinho’s arrival, the attacking midfielder was one of the most important players at the club under Mourinho’s predecessor, Mauricio Pochettino. But under the Portuguese, the Englishman was left to fight for his place.
In the first half of the 2020-2021 season, Dele Alli was so frustrated over his lack of games at the club that he almost left during the January transfer window. Unfortunately, he could not seal any loan move and had to stay back at Tottenham.
But such an era in his football career might be a thing of the past based on his performance against Wolfsberger on Wednesday. For the first time under Mourinho, Dele Alli scored a goal and provided two assists in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over the Austrian side.
He assisted Carlos Vinicius to score one of his two goals and then assisted the club’s loanee, Gareth Bale to score in the 73rd minute of the game.
Congrats on another goal @GarethBale11! A good night under the lights 💫 pic.twitter.com/2M4cP6mBrE— Dele (@dele_official) February 24, 2021
“The goal I don’t need to speak because everyone watched it and I believe that all around the world on all these sports TVs, people are going to watch it, no need to talk about it,” Mourinho said.
“But for me, the globality of the performance is what matters. He played very well in every aspect of the game, he played very well.
“Of course he’s not fresh, you can feel that his performance like in the first leg from minute 55-60 is going to go down, which is normal due to the circumstances – injured, not training for a long time.
“But at this moment when we are going to play every three days, 10 matches in March, to have Dele back at this level is amazing.
“But I wouldn’t say Dele only. (Harry) Winks, (Moussa) Sissoko, just to give two more examples, to have them back to this level, we need more than ever.”
With the 4-0 scoreline, Tottenham cruise through to the round of 16 with an 8-1 aggregate victory after defeating Wolfsberger 4-1 in the first leg of the double-headed tie.
"We qualified playing well, scoring beautiful goals and more important than that, the attitude was serious. A good night for us."— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 24, 2021
🗣️ Jose on today's victory#UEL ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/EdBRGhxHbW
Just like Dele Alli, Mourinho gave Dane Scarlett a chance
Besides Alli, Jose Mourinho gave 16-year-old Dane Scarlett a chance to showcase his talent to the world. The English youngster is a product of Tottenham’s youth system and has been playing for the club’s under-18 team since July 2020.
Mourinho decided to allow him to play his first Europa League match which made him the youngest player to ever play for Tottenham at such a level.
Luckily for him, the 16-year-old center-forward recorded his first assist for Tottenham which made him the second-youngest player to provide an assist in a Europa League match after Kylian Mbappe.
“Dane has incredible talent. I don’t want to speak too much because tomorrow I arrive in the building and the kid’s boss is going to kill me,” Mourinho said.
“I don’t want that so I don’t want to speak too well about him. I just want to say that he will be 17 next month and I want him to be part of the first-team squad next season.
“So this season he is there and here, goes to training sessions with us and matches with the kids of his age and trains there. Next season he has to be a first-team player.
“Immense talent. Very good physical development. He’s very good, he’s going to be very good. I hope that nothing is going to destroy that potential. He must have feet on the ground and a head on his shoulders because he has a fantastic talent.
“And to bring on the other two kids is always a pleasure because, in the end, it’s a motivation for everyone in the academy.”
✔️ Youngest Spurs player in European competition— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 24, 2021
✔️ Youngest Spurs player in the Premier League
✔️ Youngest Spurs player to assist in the #UEL
𝟭𝟲 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀 and 𝟯𝟯𝟳 𝗱𝗮𝘆𝘀 old. @DScarlett09. #UEL ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/ehfswkX0Jz