Mauricio Pochettino proud of Tottenham Hotspur players, but frustrated with defeat to Juventus in last 16 of the Champions League
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The Argentinean refuted claims his team lacked experience or concentration and instead hailed the way they competed with one of the best sides in the world
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino insisted his players should feel proud of their efforts after they exited the Champions League in the last-16 stage after a 4-3 defeat on aggregate to Serie A giants Juventus.
After a 2-2 draw in Turin, Spurs were marginal favourites going into the contest at Wembley and looked to be heading into the quarter-finals when Heung-min Son put them ahead just before the break.
A tactical change and double substitution from Old Lady boss Massimiliano Allegri past the hour mark proved crucial though, with Gonzalo Higuain volleyed past Hugo Lloris in the 64th minute before Paulo Dybala slotted home a second three minutes later.
Spurs rallied and went close through Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, but it ended up being a disappointing night at Wembley.
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Pochettino said: “Only I can say that I am happy with my players. I think that we make everything to try to win.
“Ok if you don’t create chances, you don’t play, you don’t dominate and in the end you lose a tie with a team that is better than you, then maybe you can say ‘we need more quality and we need this or we need that.’
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“But when you show a similar quality and you compete at the same level as a team that in the last three seasons has played in two finals in this competition, you can only feel proud and happy.
“We must understand that in football sometimes, you cannot win for different circumstances, but between Juventus and Tottenham only one can go to the next stage and unlucky for us we are out.”
The 46-year-old felt Spurs dominated the majority of the game at Wembley and it was certainly the case in the first half.
Son saw Gianluigi Buffon save one of his efforts before he drilled another off target, and Kane fired into the side netting from a decent position as well.
Juventus began the second period slowly and appeared to be losing their cool, but a three-minute spell between the 64th minute and 67th turned the game on its head.
In a flash, the Italians were in the lead and Tottenham and Pochettino couldn’t react quick enough and were left to reflect on what might have been.
Allegri’s team looked to have showed their experience, while Spurs did seem to suffer a lapse in concentration at the back.
But Pochettino refuted those claims, he said: “All that we are going to talk about now is all rubbish, because only in the end it is win or lose.
“I repeat again, they had three chances, they scored twice, but now we can call this (defeat) different names and say it is a lack of experience, a lack of concentration and everything.
“But, when you assess the game and watch it again, I think Tottenham for more than 70 minutes were much better and we created a lot of chances.
“Yes we are unlucky because if Harry scored at the end and it crosses the line, plus the chances we had in the first half, maybe now we are talking in a different way, but that is football, it is only about the result.
“Now we can only assess the game, with the result at the end of the game. Of course we play to try to win and the most important thing is to win, but I think the team fought and the team showed massive maturity against a very good team.
“Ok we made two mistakes and we conceded two goals, but only I can say that Juventus is a great team, with players in front that if you provide one or two chances, they can score.
“I think our team played fantastically, but we lost and now only it is to try to see the future and be positive and to try to help the team to still improve.”