Monday 24 June 2019

'It was mission impossible' - Mauricio Pochettino on Tottenham's Champions League progress

Mauricio Pochettino saluted the Tottenham travelling fans at the end of the game
Mauricio Pochettino saluted the Tottenham travelling fans at the end of the game
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino declared his side deserve to make progress in the Champions League after a sparkling performance at the Nou Camp secured a point against Barcelona in a 1-1 draw.

A combination of Lucas Moura's late equaliser and Inter Millan's 1-1 draw against PSV Eindhoven was enough to see Spurs secure a place in the last-16 of a competition they appeared to be destined to crash out of after defeats in their opening two group games.

Yet a fine display in Barcelona that saw them carve out a host of chances and ride their luck at times was enough for Tottenham to progress, much to the delight of Pochettino.

"The players were fantastic. A massive effort. I am so happy for the fans. A massive massive achievement for the club," he declared.

"I am so happy. We suffered because when we finished the game we did not know the result at Inter. It was two very difficult minutes but in the end of course we were so happy. It's so important for the club.

"I always believed it was possible to win the game. We produced a lot of chances. But after we missed so many we thought maybe it was not our night. We fully deserved to go through with Barcelona. We were the best teams in a difficult group.

"It's a massive boost for the club and to have the idea to play in the next stage next year in the new stadium is a massive motivation for us.

"To see those players celebrate inside with the staff you feel for the first time in four and half years that something special had happened.

"I am so happy. So proud. I remember after PSV Eindhoven (drew 2-2) and nobody believed in us. They said it was mission impossible but we are here in the last 16. We did it."

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was equally euphoric, as he offered up these comments to BT Sport: "We had quite a few chances, it just wasn't going in but we carried on and got the goal back. We still carried on trying to score more, we weren't sure what the other score was.

"We're just buzzing that we're through. A draw away to Barcelona's not a bad result."

They were helped by Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde naming a weakened side and they only had 27 minutes of Lionel Messi to contend with.

Valverde said: "In the second half they had the obligation to qualify and we had to be more reassured.

"It was very difficult for us to play through the back. They were rushing things much more than we did.

"Dele Alli and others were pushing hard and maybe we weren't as good as we wanted in the second half, but we didn't have anything at stake and they had everything at stake."

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