'I'm still a dreamer' - Pochettino defiant after Spurs suffer Euro heartbreak

Sports | 9 Mar 2018

Mauricio Pochettino insists Tottenham have nothing to be ashamed of after three minutes of madness ended their Champions League challenge in a painful 2-1 defeat against Juventus.

Tottenham were on course to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2011 when Son Heung Min rewarded their first-half dominance with the opening goal at Wembley.

After the first leg finished 2-2, Son's strike put Spurs ahead on aggregate, but Juve completely flipped the script in the second leg of the last-16 tie with a stirring second-half fightback. Gonzalo Higuain punished poor Tottenham marking to steer in Juve's equalizer and Paulo Dybala bagged the winner three minutes later with a cool finish after splitting the hosts' poorly-executed offside trap.

The loss raised fresh questions about Tottenham's ability to win major trophies, but Pochettino bristled at suggestions that Spurs aren't mentally strong enough to win on the big occasions.

"All this talk is rubbish," the Spurs manager said. "When you assess the game, I think only Tottenham was better for more than 70 minutes.

"If Harry Kane scored at the end or we scored twice in the first half, maybe we are talking differently.

"I'm happy with my players. We did everything to win. It was not a lack of experience, not a lack of concentration.

"We conceded three chances and they scored twice. We had a lot of chances and only scored one ... sometimes you need some luck to win."

Pochettino had spoken passionately this week about his dream of making Tottenham one of the best sides in England and Europe.

And even surrendering the lead against the Italian champions couldn't dissuade the Argentine from his belief Tottenham are on the brink of joining Europe's superpowers.

"I feel very proud, we dominated overall against a very good team like Juventus," he said. "I'm disappointed of course but the quality of the team was very good. We showed massive maturity. I'm relaxed and happy.

"I'm still a dreamer. When you compete in the Champions League with these clubs you can win or lose. Football is not a nightmare for me."

Juve defender Giorgio Chiellini dedicated the win to Davide Astori, the 31-year-old Italian international whose funeral he was scheduled to attend.

Chiellini wept as both sides observed a minute's silence at the start of the match in honor of Astori, who was found dead from a suspected heart attack at the weekend.


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