LONDON • Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho aimed a dig at Real Madrid after Gareth Bale scored the winner in Sunday’s 2-1 victory against Brighton in the English Premier League.
The Wales forward, who is on a season-long loan from the La Liga champions, netted his first goal since returning for his second spell with Spurs.
Bale has yet to start in the league, but he was decisive coming on as a second-half substitute after Tariq Lamptey controversially cancelled out an early penalty opener by Harry Kane.
The 31-year-old won four Champions League titles and two La Liga crowns with Real, but divided opinion in Spain because of a perceived lack of commitment and poor injury record.
However, Mourinho has little doubt Bale can live up to his hero status among the Spurs faithful. This was his first strike for the club since scoring on his farewell appearance seven years and 166 days ago before his blockbuster £86 million (S$151.7 million) move to Real.
Mocking his former club for not treating Bale with respect despite seven trophy-laden seasons, he said: “I am pleased for him because he deserved the goal. When I have five minutes I am going to (Internet browser) Safari to look at Madrid’s website to see what they say.
“He knows we care about him and we know he cares about us, the team and the club, Spurs. He’s the perfect fit, he’s very calm, very intelligent, he has good feelings.
“Gareth is very stable, very mature, he knows his body better… We know where we want to go and he’s with us on that journey.”
On his winning header, Bale said: “It’s a great feeling. I just want to come on and make an impact for the team. Everyone talks about individual play, but I’ve always said I’m a team player. The most important thing is the collective.”
His timely intervention, just 200 seconds after entering the fray, lessened the furore over the Seagulls’ equaliser, as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg looked to have been fouled by Solly March before the ball was worked to Lamptey.
Mourinho, who was incensed after Brighton’s goal was allowed to stand, was still seething later, saying: “Probably the referee should go to the press conference and explain. He had time to go to the screen so only he can explain why it is a goal.”
Seconds into his substitution for Gareth Bale to score his first Premier League goal in his second stint at Tottenham.
Spurs are now two points behind front runners Liverpool, but with just a three-point difference from Newcastle in 11th spot, the Portuguese will not get carried away by early talk of a title challenge.
“This is the best league in the world, not just because of the top six, for every team,” he said. “The Premier League, every one is close. If we drop two points, we can be seventh, eighth, ninth.”