Spurs players are heroes, says Mauricio Pochettino


Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino hailed his players as “heroes” after they sealed a stunning 4-4 away-goals win at Manchester City to reach the last four of the Champions League.

In a remarkable game at Etihad Stadium, Spurs lost 4-3 on the night but went through having won the first leg 1-0.

“I am more than happy, I am more than proud,” said Pochettino, whose side will meet Ajax in the semi-finals.

“To be in the semis was a dream, now we are there. My players are heroes.”

Pochettino also admitted Tottenham’s away-goals win ranks as one of the most significant of his career.

“It is unbelievable to be in Champions League in the quarter-final and beat Man City because in both legs it was very competitive and both legs were even,” he added.

“To score three goals here was not easy. In a game that is like a final, it is difficult to see Manchester City concede the goals they conceded today.

“One of the most important times in my career like a manager, of course, one of the best.”

Asked if his side could win the Champions League, Pochettino replied: “I think today we show and last week against Manchester City that all is possible in football.

“Sport always gives you the possibility to beat teams that no one believes or thinks we are capable of.

“Football is not only about talent but belief and to have the right mentality. This team has the personality, character and mentality to believe all is possible.

“With the quality, we can have this type of performance and achieve these big things. If not, it’s impossible.”

City were leading 4-2 and heading through with just over 15 minutes to play before Fernando Llorente scored to hand Spurs the away-goals advantage.

The ball appeared to make contact with the Spaniard’s elbow before coming off his hip and beyond Ederson, but the goal stood after a VAR review by referee Cuneyt Cakir.

Then in injury time, Raheem Sterling appeared to claim the winner as the Etihad erupted in celebration, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR after Sergio Aguero was adjudged to be offside in the build-up.

Pochettino said he went through a mix of emotions during the final moments as four words flashed up on the big screen – “No goal, VAR, offside” – confirmed that Sterling’s goal had been over-turned.

“In a moment many things happened in your head and the disappointment was massive, but they changed the decision,” the Argentine said.

“That is why we love football. Today we showed great character and great personality it was an unbelievable game.”

Despite having previously been a critic of VAR, the Spurs boss said you have to “trust” that decisions will balance themselves out.

“You have to trust the VAR when it is against or for you,” said Pochettino. “The decision to include VAR in football is going to change the game.”

Tottenham forward Son Heung-min, who gave the visitors a surprise early lead with two goals in three minutes after Sterling’s opener, said it was an unforgettable game.

However, the South Korean will miss the first leg of the semi-final after picking up a yellow card in Manchester.

“I have never seen something like this,” said Son. “It was tough and crazy but we are very proud of our team-mates. It was madness.”

Midfielder Christian Eriksen felt he “must be one of the luckiest guys on the planet” after Sterling’s late goal was ruled out after the Dane’s misplaced pass gave possession away.

“I thought it was over,” said Eriksen. “Thank god the ref gave offside.”


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