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.”


Lucky Diego Costa goal sees Spain get past dogged Iran

Updated 20 June 2018
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Lucky Diego Costa goal sees Spain get past dogged Iran

KAZAN: A lucky Diego Costa goal handed World Cup hopefuls Spain their first win of the World Cup although dogged Iran came close to causing a major upset on Wednesday.
The victory in Kazan puts the 2010 winners on course for the last 16.
Costa, who scored twice in a 3-3 opening draw with Portugal in Sochi, courted controversy early in the Group B encounter when he stepped on the toes of Iran ‘keeper Ali Beiranvand as he waited to kick the ball out.
His gesture went unpunished, and the Atletico Madrid striker required another stroke of luck on 54 minutes when his shot came off Ramin Rezaeian to beat Beiranvand after he had been sent through by Andres Iniesta.
The entire Iranian bench poured onto the pitch when Saeid Ezatolahi fired an equalizer for the Lions of Persia just before the hour.
But the thousands of Iranian supporters that filled the stadiuum with the sound of vuvuzelas throughout were left disappointed when it was ruled out for offside.
Spain coach Fernando Hierro welcomed Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal back into the starting line-up following his recovery from a hamstring injury suffered in the Champions League final win over Liverpool.
With Lucas Vazquez replacing Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke, it gave La Roja a distinctively Real Madrid feel.
By the end of a pulsating opening half in which Iran’s defense thwarted the few real chances La Roja were able to create, Hierro’s men left the pitch looking rather red-faced.
Costa got so frustrated with Iran’s defensive tactics that he approached Beiranvand and provocatively stepped on his toes, leaving the ‘keeper in visible pain.
It went unpunished by Uruguayan referee Cunha, who had awarded France a historic first VAR-assisted penalty that saw Antoine Griezmann score Les Bleus’ opener in a 2-1 win over Australia.
Spain resumed in more positive fashion after the break, Beiranvand forced to produce heroics twice in the space of four minutes.
But Iran refused to buckle, Carlos Queiroz’s men coming close in the final minutes when midfielder Mehdi Taremi headed just over.
Shortly after the restart an Isco corner was flicked on by Costa to Gerard Pique but his effort was cleared off the line.
Sergio Busquets’ drive from 20 yards was then parried by Beiranvand, who palmed the rebound away before Lucas Vazquez could pounce.
Some great vision from Iniesta, and a slice of luck, however broke Iranian hearts when Costa spun and latched on to the ball before seeing his shot rebound off Ramin Rezaeian and into the net.
Spain, however, were still flattering to deceive.
On a rare counter goalkeeper David De Gea was left irate when Taremi rose to head a meter wide.
Moments later, the stadium erupted when Ezatolahi fired through a packed Spain area to beat De Gea but the assistant referee’s flag was up.
In the final quarter hour Iran battled for a late equalizer, but after Vahid Amiri showed class to nutmeg Pique deep on the left and fire over an inviting cross, Taremi’s thundering header flew just over the bar as a relieved De Gea looked on.