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Mourinho: Wolves can ‘smell’ the Champions League

Jose Mourinho has tipped Wolves to compete for the Champions League this season.

The Tottenham manager was relieved to come away with a 2-1 win after Jan Vertonghen’s 92nd-minute header ended Wolves’ 11-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Mourinho was hugely impressed by Nuno Espirito Santo’s side and is convinced they are in the mix to challenge for the top four.

It’s a question for Nuno but they’re with us, Chelsea, United, Arsenal fighting for top six and smelling the top four,” said the Portuguese.

I think that’s what they do. In the Europa League I always think it’s unfair that the losers drop back.

For me, the losers of the Champions League should go home. But now they get Inter, Ajax, and teams that are already good.

They get guys from the Champions League, but they (Wolves) can beat anyone – home or away. They have an incredible mentality.

They can tell you what they want, but they want top four. They have potential for that, so they wanted to win the game and were not happy with a draw.

So it was very important for Paulo and for us that he made that save (from Romain Saiss).

Then we put ourselves in a position where we could win the game.”

Mourinho believes Wolves possess a winning mentality but have quality players running throughout the team.

You try to be pro-active and come with a plan, but you know you’re not going to be capable of doing it for 90 minutes,” he added.

So when they recover the ball so high, when they move the ball so fast – and the two Portuguese guys in midfield are top players.

(Joao) Moutinho and (Ruben) Neves are top players who move the ball fast. Jonny and Doherty project the way they do, Adama (Traore) and Diogo (Jota) , I don’t even want to speak about them because I get tired just seeing them.

They’re a very difficult team so it was big victory for us.”

Mourinho added: “It was one of those victories where quality is not enough. If you are not a real team in the real sense of what the word team means, it’s impossible.

They are very good – I said that before the match – and I felt the same after the match.

They are very difficult to play against, tactically very well worked – they have been with Nuno for three years – and they have very good players.

We tried and we did to start well to put pressure on them and to try to attack them and take them away from their comfort zone because their comfort zone is to have the ball and to project (Matt) Doherty and Jonny, and Traore and Jota are unstoppable. They are trains.

But then we had the difficult part of the game and it was very important to deal with that.”

Lucas Moura put Spurs ahead but Wolves dominated and equalised through Adama Traore’s first Molineux goal.

Mourinho admitted he expected a difficult afternoon once Eric Dier’s shot hit the post at 1-0.

So when I saw Dier hit the post, I immediately had the feeling if we don’t score now, we are going to suffer, and we did,” added the Spurs boss.

But we showed an incredible attitude and we put ourselves in a position where we arrived at the end of the game in condition to do what we did.

It was when everybody was a little bit down and the intensity of the game was going a little bit down, where both teams were trying to win and not play for the draw.

So the game was open and broken and we had fantastic service from Christian (Eriksen) on the cross and a great header by Jan and thtree very important points for us.

Spurs ‘keeper Paulo Gazzaniga kept his side in the game with a superb save to deny Romain Saiss’s header at 1-1 and Mourinho admitted it was a vital stop.

He has magic hands,” he said. “It’s important in that situation. My father played in this stadium against Wolves in the UEFA Cup as a goalkeeper and he was always telling me a goalkeeper of a top team has to be different from the others, because you don’t have 10 saves, you have one, but when the one comes, the magic hands have to be there.

Paulo did it for us, in the difficult period, at 1-1. I know they are very strong mentally – they want to win.”

Mourinho insists victory was all down to having a winning mentality.

Sometimes football is strange because you could have exactly the same game and no goal in the last minute and now you’re speaking about a draw and Wolves would be one point ahead of us and we would not be as happy as we are now,” he said.

But the reality is a team starts with the mentality. The tactical side of it is very important, the quality of the players is also very important but the concept of a team is the base for a side that is capable of winning.

And this match is a perfect example of a game that only a team can win. We won it as a team because it was really difficult for us.

I don’t have stats but they (Wolves) were super dominant in corners and free kicks, and then we had couple of corners and from one of them, we won the game.

Why, because we coped so well with defensive set pieces. It was something that a couple of weeks ago, we struggled with.

We were conceding goals every game from set-pieces but we managed to come here and to be very dominant in that area of the game.

So is English football at the high level, amazing fans – them and ours – very good referee because the game was very difficult, it’s too fast, super fast.

I’m really happy we have no game in midweek because if we had a game in two or three days’ time, it would be really hard to recover from such a hard game.”