Mourinho backs Vinicius to deliver

Mourinho backs Vinicius to deliver

LONDON • Amid the euphoria of re-signing Gareth Bale on a season-long loan from Real Madrid, Carlos Vinicius has slipped under the radar of Tottenham fans.

The Brazilian striker moved from Benfica on a season-long loan earlier this month, before finally making his debut on Thursday, alongside Bale as Spurs took on Austria’s Lask in their Group J Europa League opener.

He upstaged his more illustrious teammate, who made his first start of the campaign, laying on goals for Lucas Moura and substitute Son Heung-min in either half for a 3-0 home win.

An own goal by Andres Andrade sandwiched the strikes, leading Mourinho to predict there would be more to come from Vinicius once he settles into life in England and learns English.

“It’s a bit of a shame still, it’s not easy not to speak English, so the adaption to the group in spite of having amazing guys that try to make him feel well, isn’t easy,” the Spurs manager told reporters.

“But we can see he’s much more… he’s not selfish, he’s a good target man, he can even play with Harry Kane when his good period arrives… and not just be the guy to cover him.”

Vinicius’ ability to play as the main man up front allowed Mourinho to have the opportunity to rest first-choice striker Kane ahead of Monday’s Premier League trip to Burnley and Brazilian Moura also believes that he can push for a starting place.

“Carlos did very well today,” he said. “He did two assists and made a good game. He’s the kind of player we missed in this squad, another No. 9. Another Brazilian as well is good for me.”

In Group B, Arsenal scored twice in four minutes to win 2-1 at Rapid Vienna and spare goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s blushes after his blunder handed the Austrians a shock lead.

Taxiarchis Fountas capitalised on the error to put the hosts ahead in the second half before David Luiz’s equaliser and a tap-in by substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

It was an overall lethargic performance by the Gunners with the exception of Thomas Partey.

The Ghana midfielder, signed on deadline day for £45 million (S$80 million), made his first start for the club and pundits raved over his all-action display.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown compared him to club great Patrick Vieira, while former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves said it was “one of the best debuts I’ve ever seen”.

REUTERS