Pochettino hails 'fantastic' reaction from team as Spurs return to winning ways

19 February 2017 10:38

Mauricio Pochettino revealed Tottenham's 3-0 FA Cup victory at Fulham was inspired by meetings held in the wake of their defeat by Gent.

Thursday's 1-0 Europa League loss in Belgium was their second defeat in succession, and came after the poor performance that resulted in last week's 2-0 Premier League reverse at Liverpool.

They improved significantly at Craven Cottage, where Harry Kane's hat-trick secured their progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals, and manager Pochettino believed that owed to the discussions that took place.

"After Gent we had a few meetings (with the players) and the reaction was fantastic," said Pochettino, whose team are pursuing a top-four Premier League finish as well as progress in the two cup competitions.

"I am very pleased. Now we'll try and keep that feeling for Thursday (Europa League last-32 second leg with Gent).

"After two defeats, that feeling when you lose is too difficult. It was important for us. All the players wanted to play and take the responsibility (against Fulham) in a very difficult stadium, against a very difficult team, a side who try to play, a great manager and very good players.

"After 3-0 it looks as if it was easy, but that was because we took the game (on) in a very good way. We showed them full respect but played as we need to play in every game.

"We assessed the players after Thursday, after two defeats to Liverpool and Gent. Many players wanted to play and didn't feel tired.

"It was a great opportunity to show that we are alive, and end that bad feeling after two defeats. (And) to change and prepare for the Europa League."

Sunday's win also saw the return of centre-back Jan Vertonghen after more than a month out through injury.

The Belgium international lasted the whole match and Pochettino said: "Good to see (Vertonghen) back after a few weeks out. It was important for us and him that he played 90 minutes."

While the Spurs boss was delighted with the performance and victory against Fulham, he was quick to switch his attention to Thursday's "massive" return clash with Gent.

He added: "We have to focus on Thursday, forget this and try to be focused. Thursday is a massive, massive game for us.

"We need to feel we must win and go to the next round, and now we're not allowed to speak about the FA Cup."

Pochettino had selected a strong XI, despite the temptation to rest many of his players against Championship opposition, perhaps wary of the damage involved in a third straight defeat.

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic said: " After two defeats, they didn't want to take too many risks. It's very clear they came into the game with the highest level of concentration.

"They played as if they were playing against Chelsea and, in the end, all credit to them for that.

"They worked without the ball, and showed unity in the game working together. I was impressed with that part of their game. They didn't offer us so many chances to gain a victory.

"We usually dominate possession of the ball (at Craven Cottage). The first goal comes from a fast throw-in, the second goal is on the limit of offside.

"They put us under their control for 85 per cent of the game."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

England 2 0 0 6 6
Belgium 2 0 0 6 6
Tunisa 0 0 2 -4 0
Panama 0 0 2 -8 0
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