Mauricio Pochettino has accepted responsibility for Spurs 1-0 defeat to Ajax, saying he got his team selection wrong, although he did insist that his side were still ‘alive’ in the tie.
The Dutch league leaders started the evening in North London in blistering fashion, and took a highly deserved lead through Donny van de Beek in the 15th minute, with the 22-year-old coolly sliding the ball past Hugo Lloris after a precise through ball from Hakim Ziyech.
Spurs showed signs of improvement, particularly after the break, but without the injured Harry Kane and suspended Heung-Min Son, they were unable to create too many clear cut opportunities.
The result leaves Ajax firmly in the driving seat as they look to secure a place in their first Champions League final since 1996 – when they lost to Juventus on penalties – and speaking after the game, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said his side lacked energy in the opening periods.
“First half we started not in a good way. Ajax showed more energy, it was difficult for us to play. It was our lack of energy,” he told BT Sport.
“After we conceded the goal – 25 to 30 minutes in – we started to be in the game. Moussa Sissoko provided good energy.
“Second half we pushed them and tried to create chances. It was an even game in the second half. We are alive. It’s only 1-0 down. We need to believe we can go there and win the game.
Spurs started the game with five at the back but switched to a back four in the first half following a nasty injury to Jan Vertonghen, and Pochettino admitted afterwards that he got his selection wrong.
“Watching now of course I can accept it was a mistake the shape we used. But there were not too many options. I am not happy – you cannot guess what happens if we play in a different way. But our lack of energy… and a little sloppy.
“It was the not the shape that conceded the goal. Our approach to the game was not good. I am the manager so I have responsibility.”
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