Proud boss insists Spurs can still qualify
Mauricio Pochettino described his players as ‘heroes’ for making a game of it against Barcelona and says qualification for the Champions League knock-out stages remains an achievable goal.
Lionel Messi’s masterclass, and a dreadful first half in which they conceded after only 92 seconds, left Spurs with a mountain to climb, and they did well to come so close to a late equaliser, before the Argentinian’s second goal in injury time finally broke their resistance.
With two defeats from their opening two group games, the margin for error is wafer-thin and only victories over PSV Eindhoven and in the return match against Inter at Wembley next month are likely to allow for a repeat of last season’s progress to the round of 16.
“We still have to play four games and I think it’s still in our hands to be in the next stage,” said the Tottenham boss. “But of course it’s tough because now they are must-win games against PSV and Inter. It will be tough, but we are still thinking the same – that all is possible.
“I think our players were heroes, because to chase the game against players like Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and co, and be competitive in the second half, I feel so proud of our performance.
“We conceded after a minute and a half and it’s very difficult when something like that happens. We left spaces, especially in the second half. There’s no way you can foresee you are going to concede such an early goal and obviously our plans change.
“I think in the first 45 minutes, we didn’t concede one chance to Lionel Messi. Of course in the second half, when we are 2-0 down you are going to give more space as we were attacking more.
“He’s the best player in the world, but it’s a handicap to play against a team like Barcelona when you concede after one minute.”