Tottenham caves in late again to frustrate Mourinho

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Tottenham's manager Jose Mourinho check his watch during the English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St. James' Park in Newcastle, England, Sunday, April 4, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)

Defending leads used to be a forte of Jose Mourinho, soccer's arch-pragmatist.

Not anymore, it seems.

Tottenham caved in again Sunday, conceding an 85th-minute goal to draw 2-2 at Newcastle and stay outside the top four of the Premier League.

If Mourinho's team could see out victories, it could likely already start planning for life in next season's Champions League. After all, Spurs have dropped 11 points because of goals conceded in the final 10 minutes of games this season, the most of any Premier League side.

As it is, Tottenham is in fifth place — two points behind fourth-place Chelsea — and engaged in a furious tussle with perhaps six rivals for the final qualification positions for Europe's elite competition.

“Same coach, different players,” Mourinho said of his former teams' reputation for grinding out wins.

Newcastle must particularly irritate Mourinho. It was the northeast club that converted a contentiously awarded, stoppage-time penalty to somehow secure a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

And in his managerial career in the Premier League, Mourinho's teams — Chelsea (two spells), Manchester United and now Tottenham — have only won once in nine trips to Newcastle's St. James' Park.