Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho admitted 'the best team lost' as his side came from behind to beat Southampton 3-2 in a compelling FA Cup fourth-round replay.
Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long was among the goals for Southampton as they moved into a 2-1 lead heading into the closing stages at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, before a 78th minter equaliser from Lucas Moura was backed up by a winning penalty from Son Heung-Min three minutes from time.
Mourinho's decision to name Republic of Ireland striker Troy Parrott on the bench was a not of encouragement for the striker who turned 18 on Tuesday, but he was not used by Spurs as substitute Dele Alli turned the game in his side's favour with a classy late cameo.
Following a theme of recent weeks, Spurs looked jaded for long periods of the game and Dele Alli to make an impact from the bench for the final half an hour, with Mourinho candid in his assessment at the final whistle.
"I have to be honest and say I think the best team lost on the pitch but my team were the ones with more heart and went to their limit," stated Mourinho. "They were stronger than us, better physically than us. They pressed better than us and created more chances.
"We suffered. We played against a very good team, we played against a team that was the best team on the pitch but we deserved to win because we were in our limits. They had their best players, they had one more day rest, they were fresh.
"So many difficulties to even build a team, the options were not options to change the game. From the intensity level and freshness, they were much stronger than us. We tried to organise the team with the players available, but it was difficult.
"The players showed their souls and heart and gave absolutely everything. Four matches over two rounds, really hard for the boys. They deserve this happiness.
"After such a game against Manchester City (2-0 win last Sunday), it was very hard. Dele could suffer pain and could cope with that tonight. We gave everything we could so that's why I'm so proud of my team."
Alli believes that this Tottenham team deserve to win a trophy after coming so close on so many occasions over the last six years, as he gave his verdict to BT Sport.
"It says a lot about the character we have," he stated. "To go from such a big game at the weekend, easy to lose a game like this.
"We showed great character, at times a bit sloppy, but sometimes it takes one little switch and I think it was their second goal.
"It has been a long time coming, we are one of the best teams in the world in the years we have been together, we deserve a trophy. But no-one is going to give it to us, we have to keep pushing and not just for us but for the fans we have to win something."
Mourinho also offered up his views on Jan Vertonghen's negative reaction as he was substituted after 54 minutes, with the Spurs boss insisting the change in formation to a back four worked for his team.
"I understand his sadness, it is normal," he added. "He is always respectful and always professional. It doesn't make me happy to make a substitution. I did it for the team, Jan is happy for the team."
"I think I did very well because I had to manage a team with so many difficulties. I changed from the back five to the back four in the moment when I could. Then Dele Alli became the link."
Southampton manager Ralf Hasenhuttl insisted Mourinho's words of praise for his team were no consolation for his side's FA Cup exit.
"It's nice for Jose to say we were the best team, but it doesn't help us now," he told the BBC. "It's only about winning or losing in the cup. We must be quick to learn the behaviours of getting a result back so I'm not happy today.
"The last 15 minutes we didn't defend like we had to. It doesn't count, we had 30 minutes of the second half perfect.
"It's not enough to dominate, we must use our chances and I think this is something we must learn. We gave it away to easy. In the end we defended not like we did before and they showed the quality in that moment and they end up scoring the goal and winning the game.
"We were not defending like we wanted to for the second goal and the third goal was too easy, they ran through our midfield like there was nobody.
"In the FA Cup it is not about being the better team, it is a game of results and he (Mourinho) got the result and we didn't. After a very busy period we now have time to recover."