‘Big mistakes’ cost Tottenham against Juventus, laments Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes “big mistakes” were the reason his side exited the Champions League after a 2-1 home loss to Italian giants Juventus.

Spurs came from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg in Turin, but were given a taste of their own medicine at Wembley on Wednesday.

Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala scored in the space of three second-half minutes to turn the last-16 tie around after Son Heung-min put Pochettino’s men ahead before the break.

And the Tottenham boss felt slack defending proved the difference as last season’s runner-up Juve moved into the quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

“In less than three minutes, we concede two goals,” Pochettino told BT Sport. “Two big mistakes and that’s why we’re out of the competition.

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“At the same time, in both games, we deserved more and were the better team.

“But in football you need to score goals, more than the opponent. That’s why we’re out.

“I think we played fantastic football. Until we conceded the first goal, we were the better team.

“Of course, we’re very disappointed but it’s part of our growing.”

Pochettino felt Spurs played well enough over the two legs to earn a place in the quarter-finals, although he acknowledged Juve were clinical.

“We created a lot of chances,” Pochettino added. “If you compare the stats, it’s clear Tottenham deserved much more.

“I think they only arrived at our goal two or three times. But they have quality and if you make a mistake, they can score.

“In the group stage, we played [Borussia] Dortmund and Real Madrid, and then against Juventus, three massive teams.

“It was tough but a fantastic experience for us. I’m disappointed for our players and our fans but it’s about the future.”


‘English teams always leave gaps’ – Higuain knew Juventus would get best of Tottenham

Gonzalo Higuain says Juventus knew Tottenham’s defensive failings would offer them opportunities as the Serie A title-holders knocked Mauricio Pochettino’s side out of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Juve gave up a 2-0 lead and missed a penalty to draw 2-2 at home to the English club in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie, but they responded effectively at Wembley, where goals from Higuain and Paulo Dybala in the space of three second-half minutes saw them win 2-1 to earn a 4-3 aggregate victory and seal a place in the quarter-finals.

According to Higuain, the Italian giants were ready to pounce on the hosts’ mistakes, which they knew would occur eventually.

“It was a very difficult match against a great side like Tottenham, who always give their best and are aggressive, but we know English teams always leave gaps at the back and would give us opportunities,” he told Mediaset Premium.

“We had to make the most of them and we did. I’m very happy with this win, as a comeback at Wembley is not easy.

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“I am proud of this team and of the medical staff, who worked so hard to get me in shape for this game.”

Spurs fullback Kieran Trippier, meanwhile, acknowledged the tactics of Juventus stifled the hosts in north London.

“We had a lot of chances in the first half and put in a great performance. It’s a difficult one to take,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Juventus changed their formation and they had a lot of the ball, we just [needed] to settle down a little bit.

“The lads are gutted because of the way we started the game. It’s a tough one to take.

“We wanted to come out fast in the second half, but they killed the tempo out of the game.”


Allegri: Juventus qualification was deserved

Massimiliano Allegri felt the patience shown by Juventus was the key reason behind his side’s Champions League win at Tottenham.

The Serie A champions came from behind to seal a 2-1 victory at Wembley on Wednesday, moving into the quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

Argentina internationals Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala struck in the space of three second-half minutes to turn the tie around.

And Allegri said Juventus timed their goals perfectly as last season’s runners-up moved into the last eight of the Champions League.

“The lads and club deserve compliments for what they’ve been doing over the last few years,” Allegri told Mediaset Premium.

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“It was a prestigious victory at a stadium like Wembley.

“We waited for the right time, showed patience and won the game. Over the two legs, I think our qualification was deserved.

“We struggled in the first half, above all by losing the ball, and they were deadly in those situations.

“We kept splitting the team in two with misplaced passes, but after the break were more balanced, compact and kept it tight.

“The lads achieved something impressive.”

Higuain returned from two games out with an ankle knock, while Dybala started after missing the first leg with a hamstring problem.

But although the duo came up trumps with the goals, Allegri believes introducing Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner shortly before the strikes was a pivotal moment.

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“I made changes because we needed players with different characteristics, as Asamoah is extraordinary in his passing and has been really underestimated throughout his career,” Allegri added.

“Lichtsteiner did well working with [Sami] Khedira. We were tired on the flanks and needed some more pace and width. Tottenham hit the post in the final minute, but Harry Kane was offside.

“Higuain had been out for two weeks, Dybala only really returned on Saturday, so we need to get the others back to full fitness. Now we have a couple of games coming up in Serie A that will be crucial.”


Tottenham 1 Juventus 2 (3-4 agg): Higuain and Dybala complete dramatic comeback

Juventus came from a goal down to beat Tottenham 2-1 at Wembley on Wednesday and secure a 4-3 aggregate victory in their Champions League last-16 tie.

Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala each scored in the space of three minutes in the second half to send the Serie A champions into the quarter-finals.

Spurs became the first team ever to overturn a two-goal deficit at the Allianz Stadium in the first leg and picked up where they left off at Wembley, with Son Heung-min giving them a deserved half-time lead.

However, a change in system and personnel from Massimiliano Allegri turned the match on its head, with Higuain levelling the match before setting up Dybala to score his first Champions League goal in 330 days.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side pushed hard in the closing stages but they could not find a goal to send the tie into extra time, as Juve became the first team to beat Spurs in the competition this season and secure their spot in the last eight.

Spurs kept Juve pegged back in the opening exchanges but were dealt a huge slice of luck by referee Szymon Marciniak 17 minutes in, as Jan Vertonghen escaped punishment for a clumsy challenge on Douglas Costa in the penalty area.

Buffon was certainly the busier of the goalkeepers, though, the veteran making two good saves from Son and one smart stop from Dele Alli’s volley, while Juve found it difficult to bring the front two of Higuain and Dybala into the action.

There was another controversial incident that escaped the referee’s notice half an hour in, with Andrea Barzagli standing on Son before flicking a boot in his direction as the South Korean lay on the ground.

Son had the last laugh six minutes before the break, though, scuffing a shot over Giorgio Chiellini and Buffon and into the net after being picked out by Kieran Trippier’s cross.

Allegri made a tactical switch 60 minutes in, bringing on Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah, and the latter almost had an immediate impact when his cross was turned into Dybala’s path, but the Argentina forward blazed wide.

The change did prove telling four minutes later. Lichtsteiner escaped down the right and clipped over a cross, Sami Khedira nodded the ball goalwards, and Higuain prodded it past Hugo Lloris and into the net.

It was Juve’s first shot on target and they duly scored with their second just two minutes and 49 seconds later. Higuain drew Davinson Sanchez out of position and played a fine reverse pass to Dybala, who raced through on Lloris’ goal and fired the ball into the top-right corner.

Spurs regrouped and pushed forward in search of an equaliser, with Chiellini making a vital interception right in front of goal and Son shooting inches wide of the left-hand post.

Harry Kane had made little impact but he almost snatched a 90th-minute equaliser, his header coming back off the post before being hooked off the line by Barzagli, as Juve just held on to keep their treble pursuit alive.


Juventus star Higuain passed fit for Tottenham clash but Mandzukic misses out

Gonzalo Higuain has been named in Juventus’ squad to face Tottenham but Massimiliano Allegri’s side will be without Mario Mandzukic.

Argentina striker Higuain trained on Tuesday and has been declared fit for the second leg of the last-16 tie at Wembley.

The 30-year-old, who scored twice and missed a penalty in last month’s 2-2 draw in Turin, missed the Bianconeri’s previous two matches with an ankle injury.

His timely return softens the blow of Mandzukic’s absence.

The Croatia international is battling a thigh problem and was not among the 21-man party that departed for London on Tuesday.

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Juve travel to Tottenham on the back of an incredible run of form with Allegri’s men unbeaten in their last 20 games in all competitions.

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Higuain, 30, is the Old Lady’s top goalscorer with 20 strikes to his name so far in all competitions.

Juventus’ full squad for Spurs clash: Buffon, Pinsoglio, Szczesny, Del Favero, De Sciglio, Chiellini, Benatia, Alex Sandro, Barzagli, Rugani, Lichtsteiner, Pjanic, Khedira, Marchisio, Matuidi, Asamoah, Sturaro, Bentancur, Higuain, Dybala, Costa.