Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho was quick to play down any discontent between himself and Harry Winks, and explained his thinking behind a curious triple substitution soon after Spurs took the lead.
Spurs defeated Antwerp 2-0 to ensure they enter Monday’s Europa League knockout stages draw as a seeded team.
Goals from Carlos Vinicius and Giovani Lo Celso settled the tie, but the major talking points from the occasion came from off the field.
Speaking to BT Sport initially about the decision to bring deadly duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min on immediately after taking the lead, Mourinho said: “The game is open, when I thought about the changes the result was 0-0 then we scored a goal but that didn’t change my mind.
“We needed a little bit more of routines which these players (Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele) have, and the intensity.
“They had the intensity because they play week in week out.
“We managed to keep Antwerp away from our goal. Joe Hart didn’t make a single save. 0-0 at half time – I thought in the second half with bit of intensity they will collapse.
“It was a great free kick from Gareth Bale and a striker smelling the second ball to score. The decision was made. Harry is Harry and Sonny is intense.
“I can’t keep the squad happy. I believe they are happy because we are winning but they’re not happy because they’re not playing.”
Much was made in the media of the manner in which Winks left the field and went straight down the tunnel following his substitution.
Mourinho was quick to offer a reason behind the perceived show of discontent, stating: “Every player that left the pitch I told them to go to the shower because it was cold.
“Some decided to go and some decided to stay.”
Tanganga grateful for the opportunity
Japhet Tanganga was given another chance to impress in the Europa League and did not disappoint as Spurs kept another clean sheet.
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, the 21-year-old defender said: “We knew this game was a must win so that we could go top of the table. We go into the next round against a lesser team because we’ll be in the higher pot.
“I’ve been out for long time with injuries. I’m grateful the manager has put me back in.
“We all worked together well at the back and kept a clean-sheet.”