Jose Mourinho believes 'best team lost' after Tottenham battle past Southampton to reach FA Cup fifth round

A 3-2 win at the Tottenham Stadium sends the hosts through and the manager was full of praise for his players

Soccer Football -  FA Cup Fourth Round Replay - Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton  - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain - February 5, 2020  Tottenham Hotspur's Japhet Tanganga and Son Heung-min after the match                          REUTERS/David Klein
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Tottenham Hotspur booked their place in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday after coming from behind to beat Southampton 3-2 in a replay, although Jose Mourinho believed the "best team" lost on the night.

Already missing Moussa Sissoko and Harry Kane to long-term injuries, plus new signing Steven Bergwijn who was ineligible, the Portuguese had to field France midfielder Tanguy Ndombele who is not yet ready for 90 minutes after a few minor niggles.

Dele Alli was only fit enough for a place on the bench after a late tackle on Sunday by his England teammate Raheem Sterling in Tottenham's 2-0 Premier League win over Manchester City left him nursing a sore ankle, although he did come on after an hour.

But if Mourinho's teams have anything it is the ability to dig out a result against the run of play, and his new Spurs side are showing admirable levels of resolve to grind out victories.

After he admitted the best team had lost a thrilling Cup tie at the Tottenham Stadium, Mourinho praised his players for their determination to get themselves out of a hole against a counter-attacking Southampton side who were always dangerous.

Spurs, having led through a Jack Stephens own goal, found themselves behind after strikes by Shane Long and Danny Ings, but Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min with a penalty snatched the win.

"We were really in trouble. Lots of fatigue after the match against City. They were better than us, stronger physically, faster than us. They pressed, they had intensity, they had chances. They were the best team," Mourinho told reporters.

"My players were phenomenal. The way they reacted was fantastic. Incredible soul, incredible heart, great connection with the crowd and they gave absolutely everything. So I think the best team lost but we deserved to win."

Mourinho, who said the club's lengthening injury list was making it a difficult season, will grant his players an extra day off after their efforts, although there is no time for the sort of winter break being enjoyed by rival teams.

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso was missing with a thigh problem and forward Erik Lamela with a groin issue, adding to Mourinho's selection headache but his side rode their luck to reach the fifth round where they have a home tie against Norwich City.