Spurs lost 3-2 at home to Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers with Matt Docherty, Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez all on the scoresheet.
Jose Mourinho was left baffled as Ruben Neves avoided punishment for an early challenge on Lucas Moura during Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-2 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon, in quotes reported by The Sun (2 March, Goals Pull-Out, page 5).
One of the most enjoyable Premier League fixtures of the season might have avoided the sort of VAR-led hullabaloo that has overshadowed many a top-flight clash of late but that does not mean it was not free of controversy.
Neves was certainly lucky not to avoid a card when he sent a rampaging Lucas tumbling with the most cynical of early challenges and a clearly unhappy Mourinho feels this was a classic case of a referee wanted to avoid dipping into his pocket so early in the game.
“In the first minute of the game Ruben Neves makes a tackle on Lucas, going to counter attack attacking spaces. That is nothing to do with the game but it is something that one day I would like the opportunity to ask the PGMOL people,” the former Manchester United boss admitted after a result which saw Spurs leapfrogged by Wolves in the table.
“The game is from the first to the last second and what happened I don’t think the referees have to look at their watch. If there’s a penalty in the first minute it’s a penalty. If there’s a red card it’s a red card. If it’s a yellow card then it’s a yellow card.
“The referee is there to punish.”
There has been plenty of focus on so-called ‘tactical fouls’ this season with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accusing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City of a cynical tactic which often goes unnoticed (Sky).
There was plenty of talk after the reverse fixture between Wolves and Tottenham in December, meanwhile, with Conor Coady accusing Spurs of ‘gaming the system’ somewhat to kick Adama Traore out of the game.
“Tottenham were clever with it in terms of how different players were fouling him but it’s hard from our point of view to keep seeing that,” he told Monday Night Football on Sky (16 December, 8pm).