Soccer team manager praises ball boy

His side recovered from a two-goal deficit to win its Champions League tie, but new Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho saved his most effusive praise for a ball boy.

The Portuguese boss, making his home debut after replacing Mauricio Pochettino last week, saw Spurs fall 2-0 behind early on before mounting a stunning comeback to beat Greek side Olympiakos 4-2 in north London.

England midfielder Dele Alli’s goal in the dying stages of the first-half gave Tottenham hope, but the game-changing moment came on the 50th minute.

After the ball left the field of play, the quick-thinking ball boy quickly passed it back to Spurs defender Serge Aurier, whose throw-in found Lucas Moura. The Brazilian duly crossed for Harry Kane to tap in the equalizer.

In the celebrations, Mourinho ran over to thank the ball boy, and following the win, the Portuguese manager praised his “brilliant” work.

“I love intelligent ball boys like I was. I was a brilliant ball boy as a kid,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “And this kid today was brilliant. He reads the game, understands the game and made an important assist.

“He’s not there just to look to the stands, lights or scarves. He’s living the game and playing it very well.

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Mourinho told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I tried to invite him into the dressing room after the game to celebrate with the team, but he’d slipped away.”

Spurs went ahead through Aurier before Kane added the gloss with a late headed goal.

Mourinho also offered an apology to Spurs midfielder Eric Dier after substituting him on 29 minutes.

With his side trailing, Mourinho replaced Dier with the more attacking Christian Eriksen.

“The most difficult moment of the game for me was not when Olympiakos scored their first or second goal. It was when I made the change in the first half,” he said.

“I hurt the player but hurt myself. He’s a very intelligent boy who has a good understanding of what a team is. It wasn’t about his performance, it was about what the team needed.

“I felt one midfield player was enough. We needed a second creative player who could play with Alli in an open triangle and not a closed triangle with Dier and Harry Winks. I apologized to him, although he knows I did it for the team. Christian gave us what we needed.”

Kane’s double took him to 20 Champions League goals in 24 games. In doing so, he broke the record for the fewest games to score 20 Champions League goals.

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The previous record was held by Italy legend Alessandro del Piero, who scored 20 goals in 26 games for Juventus.