Jose Mourinho said he would have liked to make 11 half-time changes after his Tottenham Hotspur side slumped to a shock 1-0 Europa League defeat at Royal Antwerp on Thursday, while Serie A leaders AC Milan and Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal eased to straightforward wins.
Spurs failed to create a single chance of note in a lifeless display, with Gareth Bale, who rejoined the club on loan from Real Madrid in the close-season, lasting less than an hour before being substituted.
Mourinho, who made four subs at the interval including removing the out-of-favour Dele Alli, suggested he would not give his fringe players many chances in the future.
“I would like to make 11 (changes). I didn’t make five as I was afraid of a long 45 minutes,” said the Portuguese coach after Spurs’ first away loss since July.
“At half-time I tried to improve the situation, but it was not enough. Second half, we improved. In the end, though, Antwerp got what they deserved. The best team won and the worst team lost.
“I always like to think the players deserve an opportunity. We have a big squad. It’s also their opportunity to catch the chance with both hands and ask for more.
“(After) tonight, my future choices are going to be very easy.”
The surprise win takes Antwerp to the top of the early Group J table after their opening 2-1 victory at Ludogorets last week.
The Belgian outfit are playing in the main stage of a European competition for the first time since a UEFA Cup first-round loss to Newcastle United in 1994.
The hosts took the lead just before the half-hour mark, with Dieumerci Mbokani robbing makeshift Spurs centre-back Ben Davies before feeding Israeli forward Lior Refaelov to drill a fierce shot into the corner.
Jamie Vardy netted a spot-kick as Leicester City made it back-to-back victories in Group G with a 2-1 win at AEK Athens, while Paco Alcacer scored a late double as Villarreal saw off Qarabag 3-1 in Group I.
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers made it two straight wins in Group D by edging out Lech Poznan 1-0, but Benfica are top of the early table after beating Standard Liege 3-0.