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Jose Mourinho praises 'phenomenal' Tanguy Ndombele and bemoans defensive errors

Tottenham were held to a 2-2 draw by Norwich at Carrow Road, leaving Jose Mourinho to bemoan more defensive errors

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Jose Mourinho admits Tottenham's defensive errors are proving costly

Jose Mourinho praised Tanguy Ndombele's "absolutely phenomenal" performance after the midfielder returned to the Tottenham side for Saturday's 2-2 draw at Norwich.

Ndombele, a club-record signing from Lyon in the summer, was left out of the squad against Brighton on Boxing Day, with Mourinho revealing he had told him he was "not in a condition" to play despite not being injured.

But with Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko suspended for the trip to Norwich, Ndombele went straight back into Mourinho's midfield alongside Giovani Lo Celso at Carrow Road.

Spurs went on to produce another error-strewn defensive display against Daniel Farke's side, only claiming a point thanks to a late penalty from Harry Kane, but Mourinho made a point of praising Ndombele's impact.

Asked about Christian Eriksen's performance in his post-match interview with Sky Sports, Mourinho said: "I am happy with his man-of-the-match [award], but it could have been others. I think Ndombele was absolutely phenomenal."

Tanguy Ndombele puts Onel Hernandez under pressure
Image: Tanguy Ndombele puts Onel Hernandez under pressure

In his press conference, he added: "He played very, very well. We played without a positional midfield player - no Winks, no [Eric] Dier.

"But Ndombele and Eriksen played so, so well. Totally in control. The football - the passing, the movement, the turning - was fluid. They never played back passes and always looked forward to play in between the lines or to the wingers. It was fantastic quality of football."

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Once again, however, Tottenham's defensive failings proved to be their undoing. Spurs are without a clean sheet in their last 17 Premier League away games - their longest run in the competition's history.

Norwich's opening goal, scored by Mario Vrancic, came after Juan Foyth was robbed in midfield. Spurs then benefited from a marginal offside call when Teemu Pukki's goal was ruled out. In the second half, Aurier scored a calamitous own goal after Eriksen had equalised.

"I think we made the same mistakes in the second half as we made in the first half," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "This has been a little bit our story. I think if Amazon wants to do episodes, they will for sure have one episode about our defensive mistakes and the goals we concede.

Harry Kane celebrates scoring Spurs' second goal
Image: Harry Kane scored his 150th league goal

"We started very, very well. I think we had three or four big chances in the beginning of the first half, but we conceded two very bad goals - the first one and the one that was offside.

"Then, in the second half, we were very, very good with the ball. We created, we dominated, but again the goal is a very bad one. You cannot concede as many goals as we do. But our defensive mistakes are match after match.

"I have lots of work to do but it's difficult. I always say we have to try to hide our fragilities. That is an important thing in football. If you have fragilities, you have to try to hide them.

"But to hide them, we would lose the good qualities we have to keep. So I think the point is to try to keep the good qualities and improve defensively. There are too many individual mistakes and that's very frustrating because we play well, we score goals and we dominate games playing good football."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Norwich's draw with Spurs

Redknapp: Jose must sort out Spurs defence

In the Sky Sports studio, Jamie Redknapp insisted Tottenham's top-four hopes could depend on how quickly Mourinho can tighten them up at the back.

"I think it's the manner in which Tottenham are conceding goals that will really frustrate Jose Mourinho because he's all about clean sheets," he said.

"When he first came to the Premier League, he had 25 clean sheets with Chelsea, but this Tottenham side really are struggling to defend properly.

"Right now, they look like they are going to concede goals every single day. Jose knows he has got to sort out that back four."

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