Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho has been described as a “big gentleman” by Antwerp boss Ivan Leko following their Europa League meeting on Thursday night.
Both teams played out their final Group J game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with first place at stake after both teams had already qualified going into the match.
Tottenham, who were beaten 1-0 in the reverse fixture, were much improved this time and controlled the game from the off en route to a 2-0 victory.
Carlos Vinicius opened the scoring for Spurs 10 minutes into the second period after Gareth Bale’s free kick had been tipped onto the post.
Giovani Lo Celso then made it two in the 71st minute by slotting home from a tight angle after being set up by Harry Kane.
It proved a fairly comfortable win for Spurs over their Belgian visitors, who did not manage a shot on target across 90 minutes, but Leko wasn’t too disappointed.
“Let’s start with the positive,” Leko told Nieuwsblad. “We played today on the field of Tottenham, who were in the Champions League final two years ago. That in itself is already a punishment.
“And we move on to the next round, coming out of pot 4 and being a real outsider – no status, no respect from the opponents.
“We have represented Belgian football in a very good way. With sometimes very nice football. We deserve to be among the last 32 in this Europa League.”
Moving on to his opposite number, Leko said: “Mourinho is a big gentleman. He complimented my team and I complimented his team too – they are well ahead of the Premier League.
“It was an honour to play against a coach of that calibre. I hope that one day I can approach his level.”
It’s great to hear an opposition manager speak highly of Mourinho as well as sharing complimentary comments made by the Spurs manager.
The Portuguese may have split opinion over the years but there’s no doubting how good a job he has done at Spurs so far and how much praise he’s getting from many of his peers.