Antonio Conte gets a tune out of Champions League loving Richarlison but still demands better from Tottenham

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Antonio Conte, Richarlison Tottenham v Marseille Credit: PA Images
Antonio Conte, Richarlison Tottenham v Marseille Credit: PA Images

Antonio Conte was thrilled to see Richarlison get off the mark for Tottenham in their Champions League opener against Marseille, but still pointed out plenty to work on.

Richarlison’s first goals for Spurs saw them mark their Champions League return with a 2-0 win over 10-man Marseille in north London, although it was a struggle for Conte’s side for much of the match.

The summer signing scored with two fine headers in the space of five second-half minutes to get Tottenham out of trouble in their Group D opener.

Playing at the elite level for the first time since 2020, Antonio Conte’s men were struggling against the Ligue 1 side, who had Chancel Mbemba sent off early in the second half.

But Richarlison, making his Champions League debut, opened his account for the club in the 76th minute from Ivan Perisic’s cross and then repeated the trick to kill the game from a Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg delivery.

His double ensured Spurs got their campaign off to a winning start in an otherwise largely difficult round of action for British teams.

Conte still wants Tottenham improvements

And speaking after the game, Conte told BT Sport: “Today we expected a really tough game. Marseille are a physical team but with good quality. In the first half we lost a lot of duels. When you play against this type of team, really aggressive, it’s important you can keep the ball. Second half we did this.

“Marseille are a good team. For us it was important to get the three points and start well in this competition. We need to take confidence. They were unbeaten this season.

“Richarlison is in good form. I remember very well when Richi signed for us and he said ‘I can’t wait to play in the Champions League and listen to the music’.

“When a player says these words, it means he has great desire and great will.

“We have to play in two days against Manchester City. Now we have to try to rest and recover well. City played yesterday so have one day more to rest. In my opinion that’s very important.”

Kane delighted with winning start

Harry Kane was also delighted with the Tottenham victory and also had special praise for fellow forward Richarlison.

He tod BT Sport: “Tough game, playing against a really good Marseille team who have had a great start to the season. Difficult in the Champions League, we needed to start strong at home and the sending off helped. In the end Richarlison popped off a couple of goals.

“We did not keep the ball well in the first half. Second half was a bit better but we kept knocking on the door and kept putting the crosses in.

“It is really important to start well in the Champions League. We have done that and delighted to get the three points. We have a busy five days with Manchester City away then travelling to Sporting Lisbon.

“Richarlison has been great since coming in, trained hard, waited of his opportunities and played well when he got them. Couple of great headers today.”

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