MX23RW : Wednesday, January 23 03:56:11

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
1Liverpool23193154134160
2Manchester CityMan City23182362174556
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs23170648232551
4Chelsea23145440192147
5Arsenal23135548321644
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd23135546331344
7Watford239683232033
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves239592731-432
9Leicester CityLeicester2394102929031
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2394103034-431
11Everton238693433130
12Bournemouth2393113342-930
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2375112532-726
14Crystal Palace2364132332-922
15Southampton2357112540-1522
16Burnley2364132343-2022
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2356121931-1221
18Cardiff CityCardiff2354141944-2519
19Fulham2335152151-3014
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2325161340-2711

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