'Wembley not the reason for Spurs' loss'

Tottenham striker Son Heung Min (right) beats Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic but Andrea Raggi clears off the line during the Champions League group E match. The French league leaders won 2-1, leaving Spurs on one win at the new Wembley in six appe
Tottenham striker Son Heung Min (right) beats Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic but Andrea Raggi clears off the line during the Champions League group E match. The French league leaders won 2-1, leaving Spurs on one win at the new Wembley in six appearances.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino said he had "no excuses" on Wednesday, after his Tottenham Hotspur team stumbled to defeat on their return to the Champions League stage.

He was not blaming the wide open spaces, or indeed the unfamiliar atmosphere, of Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham and their supporters did everything they could to make themselves at home. But in front of an English club record attendance of 85,011, their party was well and truly pooped by Monaco 2-1.

Goals from Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar handed the points to the French league leaders in the Group E opener, even though Tottenham got one back through Toby Alderweireld before half-time.

On nights like this, it feels like there really is no place like home, following the London club's decision to move their European games to Wembley while White Hart Lane is being redeveloped.

Tottenham's setback calling to mind Arsenal's various painful experiences when playing Champions League games at Wembley in the late 1990s.

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim suggested that his players had "loved" the Wembley experience and that the larger pitch had hampered Tottenham, making it harder to play their pressing game effectively.

But Pochettino saw it differently, even implying he wished he could have changed the entire team at half-time.

Carelessness was the issue, he said. Nothing else.

No one could say that Tottenham looked nervous or that there was much lacking from their all-round game. The problem was that Monaco "were more effective at both ends" of the pitch, according the Pochettino.

"We need to show more hunger and passion. We showed a lack of passion today a little bit because we cannot concede that first goal," he said.

"We need to be more aggressive when we have chances to score. It was a fantastic opportunity. We waited a long time to be in the Champions League (after a five-year absence) and we fight a lot last season to be in it. The feeling is why didn't we do more?"

It was Tottenham's sixth match at the new Wembley and they have only won once - the 2008 League Cup final against Chelsea.

Monaco's impressive display maintained their superb start to the season.

"In terms of tactics and how we set up we were determined to stop Tottenham in their transitions," said Jardim.

"They are strong there and we did a good job in that area."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline ''Wembley not the reason for Spurs' loss''. Print Edition | Subscribe