LONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 1 – Raul Jimenez boosted Wolves’ bid to qualify for the Champions League as his late winner capped the visitors’ dramatic fightback in their 3-2 victory at Tottenham on Sunday.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side trailed twice in north London, but hit back from 2-1 down thanks to second half goals from Diogo Jota and Jimenez.
Wolves moved two points above Tottenham into sixth place in the Premier League.
As it stands, finishing fifth could lead to a Champions League place, owing to second placed Manchester City’s European ban, against which they are appealing.
Sitting level on points with fifth placed Manchester United and just three behind fourth placed Chelsea, Wolves are firmly in the hunt for an unexpected berth in Europe’s elite club competition
They fell behind to Steven Bergwijn’s first half opener, but Matt Doherty equalised and even Serge Aurier restoring Tottenham’s lead couldn’t knock Wolves out of their stride.
It was a bitter blow for injury-hit Tottenham, who suffered three consecutive defeats in all competitions for the first time this season.
Heading into this weekend, Spurs had kept just three clean-sheets in 22 games in all competitions since Mourinho took charge.
So Mourinho dropped defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen as part of four changes following last week’s defeat at Chelsea, with keeper Hugo Lloris sidelined by a groin injury.
Those switches included midfielder Eric Dier dropping back to centre-half and exploited Mourinho’s reshuffle time and again.
Tottenham had their chances and took the lead with a superb counter in the 13th minute.
Giovani Lo Celso picked out Aurier’s run down the right and when the right-back’s cross reached Dele Alli, his shot was pushed out by Rui Patricio into the path of Bergwijn, who slotted home from close-range.
It was the Dutch winger’s second goal since joining Tottenham from PSV Eindhoven in January.
But the hosts remained creaky at the back and Nuno’s men crafted an impressive equaliser in the 27th minute.
Ruben Vinagre ran onto Jota’s pass and fought his way past Aurier to the touchline, where he delivered a teasing cross into the six-yard box.
Dier and Japhet Tanganga both made a hash of attempting to clear and Doherty made them pay as the defender fired past Paulo Gazzaniga for his seventh goal of the season.
– Spurs in disarray –
Jose Mourinho said this week Tottenham have to “survive” in the race for the top four until they get some of their injured stars back.
Their hopes have been hit by the loss of Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min, but Tottenham were potent enough despite those absences and Aurier put them back in front in first half stoppage-time.
The Ivory Coast international took Alli’s pass, cut inside Vinagre and curled a brilliant strike into the far corner from just inside the area.
Yet, in what proved a crucial miss, the unmarked Alli ghosted onto Ben Davies’ cross for a glancing header that crept wide.
Nuno sat on the Porto bench as reserve keeper when Mourinho guided the Portuguese club to Champions League glory in 2004.
And, trying to record his first victory as a manager over Mourinho at the third attempt, Nuno was back on level terms in the 57th minute.
Adama Traore bullied his way past Tanganga and found Jimenez, who slipped a pass to the over-lapping Doherty.
Doherty’s low cross reached Jota and he tapped in his sixth goal in three games from virtually on the line.
Tottenham’s back five were in disarray and Jota and Jimenez combined to win it in the 73rd minute.
Jota was the catalyst with an incisive burst beyond Dier and Davinson Sanchez.
His pass found Jimenez and the Mexican striker easily tricked his way past Tanganga, opening space for a fine finish that sparked wild celebrations from Nuno and his staff on the touchline.