Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was left to curse the defensive gifts his side handed out in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at bottom club Norwich.
Spurs’ resurgence under Mourinho has been hamstrung by some horror shows at the back and that was again the case at Carrow Road as his side needed an 83rd-minute penalty from Harry Kane to rescue a point.
Mourinho’s men presented the Canaries with an opener when Juan Foyth was tackled and then Toby Alderweireld backed off and, after Christian Eriksen levelled from a free-kick early in the second half, Serge Aurier put through his own net in comical fashion.
They managed to battle back for a draw, but their calamity at the back cost them moving back into the top four for the first time since September.
Mourinho, whose side could have found themselves 2-0 down had VAR not ruled out a Teemu Pukki first-half effort, said: “The performance with defensive mistakes we have to accept the result.
“The performance without defensive mistakes, not at all, because we played so, so well with the ball.
“We created from minute one to minute 90. We started the game creating chances, we finished creating chances. We started the game well, then we had our December 28 gift (the first goal).
“The second half we played even better, dominating the game, scoring the equaliser and then with 30 minutes to win the game, gift number two.
“We have to work to try to stop with the mistakes.”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 28, 2019
Mourinho did at least take pride in the way his side fought back for the point.
“A normal team with a normal soul would lose the game, but no,” he added. “The boys kept playing, even more intense, pressing the opponents, creating chances.
“We scored the second goal and we could even have scored a third but then Norwich, there was time for them to fight for the point and defend, which they did.”
It might have even worse for Mourinho had Pukki’s goal not been marginally ruled out by the perpendicular lines of VAR with Norwich leading 1-0, as the focus again zooms in on the offside law and technology’s role in applying it.
Aurier was tackled and Mario Vrancic’s long ball found Pukki in acres of space, and the Finnish striker converted with aplomb.
However, VAR assistant Andy Halliday ruled that Pukki was offside by millimetres, and the goal was chalked off, to the dismay of Norwich fans who were chanting ‘It’s not football any more’.
Norwich boss Daniel Farke, whose side are still searching for a first home win since September, was crestfallen after another VAR decision went against his side.
He said: “When you watch it back without a line, you ask, one person would say it’s not offside, another would.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) December 28, 2019
“I can’t influence it, I have to accept it. Such decisions are not in the sense of the game.
“We want to support an offensive game, we want to support attacking players so if there is doubt we have to give it to the attacking player.
“I can’t influence it, it is wasted energy. Mentally I am prepared that no VAR decision will go in our favour this season – that is the way I am feeling.
“It is hard to accept and it’s tough for the lads. To be 2-0 up at half-time would have been a boost.”
Norwich remain bottom of the table and without a win in eight and, even though Farke saw his side drop a lead for the fourth successive home game, he was proud of his men.
“I am not frustrated, (I’m) proud and a bit disappointed,” he said.
“To come away with one point is without doubt a good point and a good result, but we are also disappointed because some crucial decisions went against us and we conceded late in the game.
“But it doesn’t take anything away – my players gave everything.”