Mourinho’s welcome party ends with a win, Gordon D’Arcy says focus on the clubs
The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Jose Mourinho celebrates after Harry Kane scores Tottenham’s fourth against Olympiakos. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty
José Mourinho’s first home match in charge of Tottenham was one to remember, as Spurs came from behind to beat Olympiakos 4-2 and progress to the last-16 of the Champions League last night. The Greek visitors were 2-0 up in north London after just 19 minutes, Youssef El-Arabi and Ruben Semedo on target. However a resurgent Dele Alli handed Spurs a lifeline on the stroke of half-time, before a Harry Kane brace either side of a fine Serge Aurier goal gave Mourinho’s side a resounding win. Afterwards, the Portuguese praised a quick-thinking ball boy, who returned the ball to Aurier with enough speed to allow the fullback to release Lucas Moura who provided Kane’s equaliser. Elsewhere Manchester City are also through to the last-16 as group winners despite a 1-1 draw at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, while late goals from Kylian Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia saw Paris-Saint Germain snatch a 2-2 draw away to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Tonight Chelsea face a crunch test as they travel to Valencia, with manager Frank Lampard admitting qualification for the knockouts will be difficult if his young side are beaten at the Mestalla. Elsewhere Liverpool welcome Napoli to Anfield and Borussia Dortmund travel to Barcelona.
Elsewhere in his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has responded to this week’s report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) - commissioned by the Irish Rugby Football Union - entitled: “Rugby in Ireland: a statistical analysis of participation.” And he has suggested that the way to build and strengthen Irish rugby in the long term is to shift focus back towards the once thriving club scene, which he believes no longer plays the vital role it used to in providing players for the provinces and then the national side. He writes: “Kids from places like New Ross or Ballina are just as desperate to play for Leinster or Connacht as boys in private schools. Tadhg Furlong and Seánie O’Brien will back me up. There is a moral obligation to give these children a clear route into the professional game that does not leave them feeling helpless when the big noise from Clongowes or St Michael’s arrives at trials. . . The clubs hold the key. They always have.”