Lloris sure steely Spurs will bounce back

Dortmund striker Marco Reus (centre) scoring against Tottenham's French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to put his team 2-0 up. While both sides are second in their leagues, the 3-0 result showed the gulf between them and Spurs aim to regain their momentum wh
Dortmund striker Marco Reus (centre) scoring against Tottenham's French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to put his team 2-0 up. While both sides are second in their leagues, the 3-0 result showed the gulf between them and Spurs aim to regain their momentum when they visit Aston Villa.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Hugo Lloris believes mental toughness will ensure Tottenham Hotspur keep their Premier League title challenge on track after Thursday's 0-3 loss to Borussia Dortmund.

In the Europa League last-16 first-leg game at the Westfalenstadion, Mauricio Pochettino's side conceded three goals for the first time this season and this means Spurs are now three games without a win.

They travel to Aston Villa tomorrow, looking to recover confidence and form in the league, where they currently sit second in the table, five points behind Leicester City.

"After a game like Dortmund you feel very far from the top teams in Europe," Lloris said. "But I'm not worried about the weekend. I know we're going to bounce back.

"I know the quality, the skill, the mentality of the team. Dortmund is just the story of one game. Of course we can question ourselves a bit but not too much because the league is very important. We are in a good position and we need to do everything we can to stay in this position."

In a clear indication of the importance he places on the league, Pochettino left Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele on the bench against Dortmund, while Ryan Mason, Tom Carroll and the 18-year-old Josh Onomah were all handed starts.

"I do not have any regret," the manager said, when asked about his decision to send out a second string. "When we analysed and picked the first XI, we tried to win the game.

"I am very disappointed, but the team needs to take this experience as a positive thing. To play on the next level, with teams like Dortmund, is a good test, to compare the level. But of course I am sad we had a bad day at the office."

In a dominant display, Dortmund had 20 shots to Tottenham's three and the only surprise was that the German side did not win by a bigger margin.

Marco Reus scored twice and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang once, to leave Spurs' hopes of making the quarter-finals hanging by a thread.

Tottenham's outstanding Dele Alli, who was suspended against Dortmund, and Danny Rose, who is nursing a sore calf and was left at home, could both return tomorrow.

Villa have won only once in their last eight league matches and are nine points adrift of safety.

"Sunday is a massive game now for us," Mason said. "We haven't won in our last two league games so hopefully we can get back to a win. It (loss to Dortmund) is disappointing but there are characters in the squad, that means Sunday won't be a problem."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'Lloris sure steely Spurs will bounce back'. Print Edition | Subscribe