Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino attempted to take the positives, following their European exit against Borussia Dortmund.
An uphill task
Having been subject to a barrage of Dortmund pressure in Germany last week, Tottenham welcomed their opponents already 3-0 down on aggregate.
With Pochettino choosing to rest a number of key first team regulars in Germany, a decision which was proven to be correct following a Premier League victory at Aston Villa on Sunday, the tie was effectively over before the match even kicked off at White Hart Lane.
Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, continued to send out a full strength side including the ever impressive Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus. The German giants, currently second place in the Bundesliga, looked in control for most of the contest in North London as they sealed safe passage into the quarter finals.
Aubameyang, fresh from opening the scoring last week, fired past Hugo Lloris in the home goal with a quarter of the game gone to add an away goal to the tally accumulated at the Westfalenstadion.
The former AS Saint-Étienne forward would have been all the more delighted to add a second on the night against Lloris, once of Aubameyang’s fierce rivals Olympique Lyonnais in France, with twenty minutes remaining.
Tottenham did finally get on the scoresheet when some lacklustre defending by Neven Subotić saw Heung-Min Son round Roman Weidenfeller before slotting the ball into the empty net, but it was little more than a consolation for the home side.
Pochettino admits result was “disappointing”
Having chosen to defend his selection last week, Pochettino could not hide his disappointment having seen his side perform considerably better on Thursday evening.
Despite the encouraging performance, thanks to the return of Dele Alli and Eric Dier, the former Southampton boss admitted he was “disappointed” with the discouraging exit at the hands of the recent UEFA Champions League finalists.
However, the Argentine was quick to mention how “proud” he was of the “magnificent effort” his side put in despite knowing it would have taken something spectacular to turn to contest around.
With focus now firmly on the Premier League, Tottenham sit five points behind leaders Leicester City with just eight games remaining, Pochettino quickly turned his attention closer to home by admitting his side can now focus on “fighting for the Premier League”.
Dier praises Dortmund
Tottenham defensive midfielder Dier, who missed the trip the Germany last week, was left “disappointed” after admitting his teammates “have the quality to have done better over the two legs”.
The England international came closest to opening the deadlock early on with a header from a corner and was left to reflect on the importance of an early goal in the second leg. “We knew if we had any chance we would have to score early”, said the former Sporting Clube de Portugal man.
Europe over for another year
Tottenham will be hoping, with a potential title tilt on the horizon, this will have been their last game in the Europa League for a season at least.
With a Champions League place the target at the start of the season back in August, Pochettino welcomes Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth on Sunday knowing the importance of getting back to winning ways.