LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur's players must learn to cope better with pressure and develop the ability to kill games off if they are to challenge for the Premier League title, Mauricio Pochettino has warned.
Newcastle not only inflicted Tottenham's first Premier League defeat since the opening day of the season at White Hart Lane on Sunday, they also prevented his side from seizing a place in the top four for the first time this campaign.
"They felt the pressure and the pressure if you want to play for the top position is very big," he said after Newcastle substitutes Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez scored late goals to secure a dramatic 2-1 win for the visitors.
"It is not about their age, not because we have a young squad. The first 45 minutes, we completely dominated the game. It was one of the better games we had played this season.
We lost control and started to make easy mistakes. When we needed to take one touch, we took three. When we needed to play forward, we played to (the) side. With each mistake, we started to give our opponents more belief, more command of the game.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO on the loss to Newcastle
"So we felt very disappointed, because how is it possible to lose the game after that first half? It was not a lack of energy. We lost control and started to make easy mistakes.
"When we needed to take one touch, we took three. When we needed to play forward, we played to (the) side. With each mistake, we started to give our opponents more belief, more command of the game," he added.
But the Argentinian was at pains not to place any blame for the loss on goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris, who seemed to misjudge the header from Chancel Mbemba that led to Mitrovic's equaliser.
Mitrovic poked home in the 74th minute - just two minutes after coming on.
Worse was to follow for the hosts as Perez beat the France international at his near post in stoppage time.
"It is not about one player," Pochettino said.
"It is how we concede the chance, not how they finish the action.
"We made mistakes and gave them the possibility to arrive at the goal. That was the problem, not the fault of an individual. The first person who is responsible for the defence is me."
Eric Dier's 39th-minute header gave Spurs the lead. But the Newcastle comeback meant that Steve McClaren's men are now out of the relegation zone.
Having beaten Liverpool the last time out, Newcastle have also registered back-to-back league wins for the first time since November.
Their third straight win at White Hart Lane represented an achievement that Newcastle had not accomplished in 104 years.
"We need more performances like that," McClaren said. "We have been inconsistent.
"It's answered the critics we have had over the last four weeks and it was a great performance in the second half and a great result.
"That is what we are, a bedrock of discipline and hard work.
"We definitely have talented players and they know how to win. We just have to learn to do it consistently.
"But we haven't turned the corner yet."
THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE