Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho refused to come down too hard on Serge Aurier after he gave away a needless penalty in his side’s 2-0 defeat to Leicester.
Aurier brainlessly shoved Wesley Fofana over in first-half injury time, with referee Craig Pawson checking the pitchside monitor before awarding the spot-kick which Jamie Vardy converted.
Leicester climbed above Spurs in the table after Toby Alderweireld’s second-half own goal killed the game as Mourinho’s men slumped to a second successive defeat.
Only David Luiz has conceded more Premier League penalties than Aurier since he arrived in England in 2017, and Mourinho was seen in Spurs’ Amazon documentary telling the right-back he was scared of him giving away spot-kicks.
Despite those pre-existing concerns, Mourinho did not criticise Aurier for making the foul.
“Is it a problem? Let’s focus on today,” he said when asked whether Aurier’s rash tackles are an issue.
“Today he made a mistake but before his mistake in minute 45 or 46 we had other players making mistakes in other areas of the pitch. I can’t blame a player for a mistake.
“The penalty is not a penalty created, it was not something that was created, it’s not something that comes in the sequence of something great.
“For me it comes completely unrelated to the context at the time, because at the time it was our best period of the first half.
“We started bad, the first maybe 20 minutes was a poor performance, some empty spots in terms of pressing, attitude, recovering the ball.
“I didn’t like it at all. During the first half we changed, adapted the positions, especially in midfield.
“The team improved a lot, we have a period of domination, a couple of good chances. And then the penalty, which was out of context of the game at the moment.”
Spurs appeared to be Liverpool’s main challengers for the title, but they have slipped to fifth after back-to-back defeats and that now looks less likely.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 20, 2020
Mourinho was always reluctant to accept his team could win the title and the Portuguese is only concerned about the short term.
“I’m frustrated when I lose but it’s not like there is a target that cannot be achieved,” he said. “Our target is to win the next match and the result of the previous matches they don’t interfere in our target for the next match.
“The next match we want to win like we wanted to win today. Don’t get me wrong, I want to win matches and what happens in the match before shouldn’t have an impact on the next one, which is what I think is going to happen.
“We have to try always to win the next match.”
Leicester look like they could be a better bet to challenge Liverpool after they moved up to second place.
Wins at Manchester City, Arsenal and now Spurs suggest the Foxes will not be a flash in the pan, but boss Brendan Rodgers is not getting carried away.
“I thought it was an outstanding team performance. We were very, very good and we deserved to win it,” he said.
“We have had a lot of really good performances, in terms of the strategy of the game. Jose is absolutely amazing on the tactical side and we learned from six months ago when we were 3-0 down after half an hour.
“If you look at our players returning, the players have done great. A European campaign, lots of injuries, but they have kept the enthusiasm, spirit and quality, so it is a very pleasing opening third of the season, but there is a lot of hard work to do.
“The ambition is to continue improving. We won’t get carried away, there is a lot of development to take place in our young players. We will see.
“It has been a really good start, I am satisfied with where we are at, knowing there are improvements to make.”