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Africa Sports News of Friday, 5 March 2021


Alli deserved to start - Mourinho praises midfielder

Jose Mourinho has praised Dele Alli for working his way back into his Tottenham line-up, insisting he "deserved to start" their latest Premier League fixture.

Alli was handed his first top-flight start in almost six months against Fulham on Thursday, and marked the occasion by playing a key role in the winning goal.

Mourinho was pleased with the 24-year-old's performance and says he earned his place in the team with his recent performances in the Europa League and hard work on the training ground.

"He deserved to start. It was not a gift. It was a consequence of his work since he came back and working 100 per cent," the Spurs boss told reporters post-match.

"He was giving us important things. Did very well in the Europa League and very well in every minute he had.

"He was deserving. We need the squad we have."

Spurs picked up from where they left off after their 4-0 win over Burnley at the weekend by scoring 19 minutes into their clash with the Cottagers at Craven Cottage.

Alli initially claimed the glory after flicking a Son Heung-min cross towards the net, but it took a heavy deflection off Tosin Adarabioyo on its way in and ultimately went down as an own goal.

Spurs had chances to increase their lead thereafter, with Son and Harry Kane both guilty of wasteful finishing, but Mourinho's side still managed to hold on for a crucial 1-0 victory.

Mourinho added on the importance of the final result as Tottenham continue to chase a top-four finish: "Important win. We need points and of course three better than one.

"I think we clearly showed from the first minute that we wanted that. First half was good but the second half was harder.

"When we made the changes we added fresh energy and we had the best chances in the last 10-15 minutes."

Alli will be back in contention for a place in Mourinho's starting XI when Spurs play host to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The north London outfit are due back in Europa League action four days later, with a first leg round of 16 clash against Dinamo Zagreb on the cards.