Son Heung-Min admits Spurs must learn from painful Champions League defeat to Juventus

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-Min was in tears at the final whistle after defeat to Italian side Juventus but said his side will do better next season. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Son Heung-Min admits Spurs must learn from painful Champions League defeat to Juventus

LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-Min says the club must learn from their painful Champions League exit at the hands Juventus, which denied them a place in the quarterfinals of Europe’s premier competition.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were on course for the last eight after Son’s first-half goal put them 1-0 up on the night and 3-2 ahead on aggregate.
But the Italian champions stunned Wembley with two goals in three second-half minutes from Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala.
In the dying seconds Harry Kane thought he had taken the tie to extra time, only to see his header come back off the inside of the far post before being cleared off the line.
Son, who was in tears after the final whistle, said: “That hurt, but it’s football. We played well but sometimes football is like this. We have to accept the result but still for me, it hurts a lot.
“What was the difference? Nothing. At the start we played well, we created lots of chances, got to 1-0 and made the perfect start I think.
“This game we can learn something from, but this is sad news. The dressing room was quiet.”
Tottenham’s European campaign, including wins over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, was a vast improvement on the previous season, when they failed to get past the group stage.
South Korea’s Son said Spurs were “unlucky” to be out of the Champions League but had earned valuable experience.
“We remember last season, we went out in the group stage so now we did well, we learned something again and next season we will do better,” he said.
“Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund doesn’t matter anymore. I thought we were better than (Juventus) but it doesn’t matter now — they scored two goals at Wembley Stadium,” he added.
And Pochettino insisted Tottenham had nothing to be ashamed of after three minutes of madness ended their European run.
Tottenham were on course to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 until Juventus completely flipped the script. The result was a bitter blow for Spurs and the loss will raise fresh questions about their ability to win major trophies under Pochettino.
But, yet to land any silverware with the north Londoners, Pochettino bristled at suggestions Tottenham aren’t mentally strong enough to win on the big occasions.
“All this talk is rubbish. At the end it is win or lose. When you assess the game, I think only Tottenham was better for more than 70 minutes,” he said.
“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 try to win.
“It was not a lack of experience, not a lack of concentration. How many chances did we concede?
“We conceded three chances and they scored twice. We had a lot of chances and only scored one.
“We can talk about a lot of situations, but sometimes you need some luck to win.”


Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

Updated 20 June 2018
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Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

  • While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed
  • Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game

MOSCOW: Morocco became the first team to exit the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday after a 1-0 loss to Portugal in Moscow left coach Herve Renard to reflect on what could have been had he been able to call up Cristiano Ronaldo.
Just five days after his hat-trick against Spain in a 3-3 thriller, the Real Madrid star was once again the difference-maker and scored the only goal of the game with a fourth-minute header.
While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed. It was a similar outcome to the opening 1-0 loss to Iran when the North Africans had chances to win, but ended with nothing.
It leaves Morocco with zero points from two games in Group B and unable to finish in the top two with a final game against Spain on Monday now just a matter of pride.
“This is what happens in football,” Renard said. “In the penalty area at crucial times, the most gifted players are the ones who make all the difference. It is a lot easier to play with a player who can score from a goal opportunity. We have high quality players and should have been more effective as we had lots of chances.”
Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game for the European champions who now have four points from two games.
“I am very happy to score, but it is more important to win the game and get the points,” Ronaldo said. “We know if we lost we could be out. We knew they would be trying very hard and were very strong. It was a really tough game for us, but I managed to get the goal, and it was beautiful.”
Morocco were unhappy with the goal, with Renard asking reporters to look at the corner from which Portugal scored, hinting that Portuguese defender Pepe had fouled one of his players. “Have a good look at the corner kick and what the number three is doing and write the truth. I can’t say too much or I will be punished.”
As it is, however, Morocco are out regardless of what happens against Spain on June 25. Renard has, however, insisted that the team will leave Russia with their heads held high.
“I am not disappointed with the performance,” the French coach said. “I am very proud of my players, very proud of the country and proud of the staff. The whole Moroccan people are proud, even very proud, of this team. It felt like Casablanca in here and that is something you can never take away from the players.”
The well-travelled 49-year-old reflected on Morocco’s journey since he took the job in February 2016. “Then we were ranked 81 and now we are 41 and came to the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. Here we have shown we can play football, we do play football.”
Portuguese coach Fernando Santos paid tribute to the North Africans.
“They played well and challenged us. It is maybe an unfair result for them, that is football. If you score, you can win. I am not happy with the way we played, but we played against a good team.”