Overcoming Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final was more than a simple matter of tactics, according to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Tottenham beat City on away goals after a pulsating 4-4 aggregate draw to set up a last-four tie with this season’s surprise package Ajax.
It represents the club’s first-ever appearance at this stage in either the Champions League or European Cup, whilst Guardiola was condemned to an eighth consecutive year without an appearance in the final of Europe’s premier club competition.
Pochettino’s side will play Dutch outfit Ajax for the right to face either Barcelona or Liverpool in the Madrid showpiece on June 1, and the Spurs boss believes that fortune played a part in dragging his team to this stage of the competition.
“There is nothing concrete, it had to do with a lot of things,” Pochettino told Goal . “It goes beyond a tactical approach. It’s about quality, overcoming the circumstances that are taking place, the different moments that a match has, and also having some luck.
“We should not get too proud, but we also have quality in our football. We face each game with courage.”
Pochettino saw his team race into what was effectively a three-goal lead in the first half at the Etihad, only for City to come roaring back to steal the ascendency before the visitors struck late to win it.
Spurs had thought they had been knocked out in the final minutes when Raheem Sterling scored what looked to have been a tie-deciding goal, only for a VAR review to halt the celebrations of the Premier League champions.
“For the fifth goal, we went so quickly from disappointment to the relief of the offside,” said Pochettino. “Emotions always went up and down. Only at that moment did I feel that the match was slipping away.
“Everyone that does not win is labelled a failure too quickly, I do not like that word. It is not easy to win the Champions League, only Real Madrid won three (in a row) and that is incredible, because next to the Premier League that is the most difficult.
“It is unfair, even if City had winning the Champions League as one of their goals.”