Jose Mourinho said he was pleased with Dele Alli’s performance following Tottenham’s 1-0 victory over Fulham and praised the attacking midfielder’s positioning in the build-up to Tosin Adarabioyo’s own goal.
Alli was heavily linked with a move away from Tottenham in the January transfer window after falling out of favour under Mourinho and his previous league start was in Spurs’ defeat to Everton on the opening day of the season.
But Mourinho gave Alli the nod for the first time in 172 days at Craven Cottage on Thursday evening and the 24-year-old England international played a key role in the visitors’ opener in the 19th minute.
On first glance, it appeared Alli had himself had broken the deadlock but replays showed Fulham defender Adarabioyo got the final touch on Son Heung-min’s low cross.
Josh Maja looked to have equalised for Fulham just past the hour-mark but Mario Lemina was controversially penalised for handball and Tottenham held on to their narrow advantage after the goal was disallowed.
The result moved the north London outfit to within four points of the Premier League top four and Mourinho felt his team deserved to come away from the London derby with all three points.
On Tottenham’s performance, the Portuguese told BT Sport: ‘Well the performance is always in relation to the opponents’ performance.
‘There is always a dialogue, there is always an interaction and many times the opponents have responsibilities in what they do well and where they push you to have more difficulties.
‘I believe that we were the team that had the biggest chances to score and kill the game. We didn’t.
‘And then in the second half, until we made some changes, they were the team that was pushing and we had to defend well and Hugo had to make a couple of important saves.
‘I believe that when we changed players we gave a different intensity to the team, we were more solid defensively, we were more dangerous on the counter-attack, we kept the ball away from our first third.
‘In the end it was difficult, this is the Premier League and there is no easy ones. But I believe we deserved it.’
‘Goal, no goal, own goal… that’s not the important thing. The important thing is the position he got into which, for me, is fundamental.
‘And playing as a second striker, it’s the kind of position where he has to go. He did good work until his fitness allowed him.
‘It’s the same as Gareth [Bale]. The second match in the same week is not easy, of course, but then the squad is for this and they did very well and then Lucas, Lamela and Sissoko coming from the bench.
‘This is what I want from my bench is to come and to improve.’