Saturday 30th November 2019

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Spurs 3 Bournemouth 2 

Dele Alli inspired Spurs to 3-2 win over Bournemouth as Jose Mourinho maintained his 100 per cent start with another goal-laden affair in his first home Premier League match in charge.

Alli’s revival under Mourinho continued with a decisive and twinkle-toed performance, as he scored twice to make it three goals – as well as two assists – in as many appearances under the Portuguese.

He was also the architect of Spurs third goal, releasing Heung-min Son to cross for Moussa Sissoko, who scored for the first time since September 2017.

It would be unfair on Mourinho’s predecessor, Mauricio Pochettino, to ascribe Alli’s form solely to a change in the dugout – the England international has been steadily improving since the start of October – but this was his best performance in at least a year and he should really have finished with the match-ball after blazing over from a good position and then testing Aaron Ramsdale with a stinging shot.

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Alli, whose form cannot have gone unnoticed by England manager Gareth Southgate, is benefitting from playing his favourite No.10 role, next to Harry Kane, and both his goals came from raking long balls from Toby Alderweireld in the resumption of a combination that was so often effective in the past.

The 23-year-old appears fitter than at any point since the 2018 World Cup and he is also having fun again. His performance was full of dribbles, darting runs, clever flicks and forward passes. The only thing missing was a trademark nutmeg.

Alli’s impressive show came in another encouraging performance from Spurs, as Mourinho’s fine start continued with a third consecutive win.

The Portuguese has made some decisive tweaks since succeeding Pochettino but it is his playing of some of the Argentine’s greatest hits that is having the biggest impact on Spurs’ fortunes; Alli at No.10, Eric Dier at holding midfield and Alderweireld as a playmaker from centre-half were all big parts of Pochettino’s success and they were evident again here.

tottenhambournemouth301119-2Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth  - Premier League

But Mourinho will be concerned about the way Spurs faded again after going 3-0 up, just as they did in another 3-2 win at West Ham a week ago. Substitute Harry Wilson curled home a fine direct free-kick and scored in stoppage-time with a low finish for the Cherries to make it a nervy finale.

For all Spurs’ improvement, Mourinho has work to do to fix the defence and ensure his team remain at it for 90 minutes.

The new manager made three changes from the 4-2 win over Olympaicos mid-week, with Jan Vertonghen, Tanguy Ndombele and Sissoko coming in for Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Lucas Moura.

Vertonghen, who was making his first appearance since late October, tucked-in to form a back-three when Spurs were in possession, while Sissoko found himself in a right-wing role in a straight swap for Lucas, having played primarily as a box-to-box midfielder under Pochettino. The Frenchman has frequently said he prefers to play centrally but he was excellent here, and his cushioned finish on the volley was as surprising as it was impressive, suggesting Mourinho is making a difference in the most unlikely areas. Sissoko was, however, beaten too easily by Arnaut Danjuma for Wilson’s second goal.

After a slow start against Olympiacos, Spurs were again tentative out of the blocks and Danjuma and Diego Rico both stung Paulo Gazzaniga’s palms in the early exchanges. It took the hosts 18 minutes to fashion a chance and exposed the visitors’ vulnerability on the counter-attack. Alli skipped around a challenge and fed Kane and the striker’s pass released Son down the left with only Lewis Cook for company. The South Korean dragged a low shot just beyond Ramsdale’s far post. Three minutes later, Alli and Son were involved again as Spurs took the lead, with Alderweireld the creator. The Belgian’s long ball caught Bournemouth’s back four static as Son raced behind and the South Korea’s cushioned touch fell to Alli, who passed home first time.

Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth  - Premier LeagueTottenhamBournemouth301119-1

As Spurs began to go through the gears, Kane tested Ramsdale with a low shot after a one-two with Son and the hosts thought they had doubled the lead a few seconds later, when Sanchez crashed home from 12 yards. But referee Lee Mason spotted a handball from the Colombia international when he controlled Sissoko’s shot. Mason was not so eagle-eyed when Cook clearly handled Alli’s cross in the box, with Spurs believing the incident merited a review from the VAR. It was not all one-way traffic, however, and Jack Stacey and Danjuma both went close before the interval, leaving Spurs with work to do.

It took just five minutes of the second half for Alli to seemingly kill off the Cherries, however, as he showed great control and strength to hold off two defenders from Alderweireld’s pass and dink past Ramsdale.

Wilson curled home a trademark free-kick to take the gloss off the win and Mourinho will have been deeply concerned by the way Bournemouth dominated in the final ten minutes, threatening again through Cook and Solanke before Wilson’s second goal, a first-time finish from Danjum’s cutback.

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