MX23RW : Wednesday, November 21 14:38:58

Mauricio Pochettino believes Spurs can reach Champions League knockout stages

Mauricio Pochettino believes Spurs can reach Champions League knockout stages
© Reuters
Spurs sit three points off second-placed Inter Milan, who they face next at Wembley.

Mauricio Pochettino remains optimistic of reaching the Champions League knockout stages after Tottenham scraped to a crucial 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven.

Spurs’ faltering Group B campaign looked like hitting a new low after Luuk de Jong put the Dutch champions ahead inside two minutes at Wembley.

But captain Harry Kane breathed fresh life into his side’s European campaign by equalising in the 78th minute and then seeing an 89th-minute header deflect off PSV substitute Trent Sainsbury and trickle over the line.

Tuesday’s narrow success was Tottenham’s first in the group stage and leaves them three points behind second-placed Inter Milan and six adrift of leaders Barcelona with two fixtures remaining.

Spurs host Serie A side Inter on November 28, before finishing the group stage at the Nou Camp on December 11.

“Two games to play, if we are capable of beating Inter Milan we are going to be with them on seven points with one game to play,” said Spurs boss Pochettino.

“In one game can happen anything. We will see if Barcelona have qualified for the next stage and we are going to go to Barcelona trying to win the game.

“The belief is still there, you know me, I am so optimistic.

“Now is to be focused on Saturday but talking about Champions League is about being focused on Inter Milan.

“I think we were so close to winning the game and deserved more in Milan (a 2-1 defeat), we played better than them.

“I think we can beat them and I am so optimistic. If we are capable of beating them, the percentage to be in the next stage will be high.”

Spurs dominated their Dutch opponents but trailed for 76 minutes after missing numerous chances following De Jong’s early header from a corner.

Striker Kane finally levelled the contest when he fired home after being teed up by substitute Fernando Llorente.

A draw would have done little to improve their chances of reaching the last 16 of the competition and they turned one point into three late on when Kane’s header flicked off Sainsbury and rolled into the bottom right corner.

“So pleased with the effort for what was our fourth game in nine days,” added Pochettino.

“The team was fighting and made a big effort.

“We find our reward and the team never gave up and showed big character and personality and I am so pleased with everything.”

PSV defended doggedly for much of the match on a Wembley pitch damaged by recent American football matches.

However, defeat for the visitors ended their chances of progressing from the group.

PSV manager Mark van Bommel was proud of the effort from his players and refused to blame the surface for the loss.

“It’s s***,” Van Bommel said of the pitch.

“You know what I mean, it’s bad. In Holland, we say s*** a little bit quicker than in English.

“It’s not good but we’re not complaining. We knew it before, we were training and I told the guys after one minute of complaining you have to stop and go on with training and then get used to the pitch.”

Speaking about his team’s performance, he added: “I think that they fight like lions.

“After one minute we get a goal and we try to defend it until the end. We did everything, everybody was fighting for the result.

“We had Barcelona, Inter and Spurs so it was a very difficult group.”


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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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