Wednesday 12 December 2018

Pochettino proud as Tottenham guarantee Champions League football next season

Tottenham have played their home games away from White Hart Lane throughout the campaign.

Tottenham will play Champions League football for the third season running after beating Newcastle
Tottenham will play Champions League football for the third season running after beating Newcastle

By Jonathan Veal, Press Association Sport

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino believes qualifying for next season’s Champions League is made even more impressive by having had to play at Wembley all season.

Harry Kane’s second-half goal earned a 1-0 win over Newcastle which ensured a third successive top-four finish after Chelsea could only draw with Huddersfield.

Spurs have effectively had a season’s worth of away games, owing to playing their home fixtures at the national stadium while their White Hart Lane stadium is redeveloped.

“Maybe people didn’t realise that it was so tough for the players, so tough for the staff and the fans,” Pochettino said.

“It was so difficult every week, or every game that we play here to move from White Hart Lane to Wembley.

“I think that is why I feel so proud. So proud about this group of players, to achieve the top four in that condition, despite many things that happened during the season, if you are not strong mentally or physically, and you show (don’t) passion (or) care for this situation, it is difficult to achieve what we did today.”

Spurs wrap up their campaign with one more outing at Wembley, against Leicester on Sunday, before heading home to their rebuilt White Hart Lane stadium.

And Pochettino knows how important it was to ensure there would be Champions League football in their new home next season.

“For the club it is a massive thing, to move to the new stadium and play in the Champions League, it will be another massive challenge,” the boss added.

“It will be a fantastic stadium but you need to make it your home, like with Wembley we will need time for that to happen.

“This group have the experience to make it feel like home.”

Spurs were stumbling towards the line and this was another nervy night as Newcastle were not lying down.

Jonjo Shelvey hit the post in the first half with a free-kick while Dwight Gayle, Jamaal Lascelles and Jacob Murphy all had good chances to ruin their hosts’ night.

In the end, Kane’s goal was enough, a superb first-time finish into the top corner following neat work by Son Heung-min, which left Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez scratching his head.

“We did really well, 14 attempts against Tottenham at home, means that something we did was right,” he said.

“There were two decisions, two penalties that were clear but not given, but still we had enough chances to score.

“We put them under pressure, a very good team, very good players and we deserved more.”

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