The England international was sacrificed with his club side two goals down and his coach admitted it was a tough decision to make
Jose Mourinho has revealed why he substituted Eric Dier before half-time in Tottenham’s eventual 4-2 home win over Olympiacos in the Champions League.
Dier was replaced by Christian Eriksen just 29 minutes into Tuesday’s Group B fixture with Tottenham trailing 2-0, after Youssef El-Arabi and Ruben Semedo had stunned the home side in London.
The early change ultimately paid off as last season’s runners-up stormed back to pick up the three points required to reach the Champions League round of 16.
“It was for the team and we needed a different solution. We were losing 2-0, they were closing really well and I needed a second man with Dele Alli to come into the pockets. It was between Dier and Harry Winks but a hard decision.
“They understand, Eric understands but the reality is it is never an easy decision and to make it clear, it was about the team not individuals. I thought about taking out one of the centre-backs and putting Eric in defence.”
A poor error from Yassine Meriah gifted Alli a goal to give Tottenham a route back into the game before half-time and they produced an improved display in the second half.
Harry Kane scored twice, either side of Serge Aurier’s strike, as Premier League outfit Tottenham reached the last 16 for the third season running.
“We have qualified for the next round, that is the important thing for all of us at the club and the fans,” Mourinho said. “It was hard, they are a good team, very well organised and they attacked our self-esteem and self-confidence.
“I did not expect our boys to feel this pressure at home and they have not had the best results in the last few months.”
Asked about what he told his players at the interval, the two-time winner of the competition added: “It was a tough time. More than the changes or the tactical talk, I told them to keep calm, keep confident and believe in ourselves.”