Football: Mauricio Pochettino full of praise after Hugo Lloris saves Spurs at Real

Lloris made two outstanding saves to deny Karim Benzema and Ronaldo in the second half. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (THE GUARDIAN) - Mauricio Pochettino paid tribute to Hugo Lloris after the goalkeeper helped Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-1 Champions League draw at Real Madrid but the manager was more pleased that his team had held their own and showed they could compete at the highest level.

Tottenham led at the Bernabeu through a Raphael Varane own goal before Cristiano Ronaldo equalised before half-time from the penalty spot.

Lloris was busy and he made two outstanding saves to deny Karim Benzema and Ronaldo in the second half.

Tottenham had chances of their own and Harry Kane could not find a way past Keylor Navas when he was one-on-one with him on 71 minutes.

The result kept Tottenham level on points at the top of Group H with Real while their hopes of qualification to the last 16 were further boosted when Borussia Dortmund could manage only a draw against Apoel in Nicosia.

"The result is less important," Pochettino said. "The fact we competed makes me most happy. We are building a new stadium and the team is under construction, too. It is important to reinforce the belief that we can compete.

"Last season it was sad that we did not compete in the Champions League. This year it's better. We have progressed and we are growing. We must be confident in the path we are following. The club has great potential for the future."

The Spurs manager knew that his side might have snatched victory but he was quick to recognise that Lloris had kept them in the game.

"Hugo was fantastic," he said. "He deserves big praise from everyone. He showed his real level. You had the opportunity to see why Hugo is one of the best goalkeepers in the world."

Lloris said: "Benzema should have scored and he knows that but, as a goalie, you need a bit of luck and I managed to kick his chance away. We shouldn't forget where we came from. Four years ago, we were playing in the Europa League and now we're playing against and competing with Real Madrid in the Champions League. We have to follow it up now with a good performance against them at Wembley."

Pochettino said the result put Tottenham in a "very good position to go through" and he hoped it could serve as a catalyst for the season.

"We need to make sure this type of performance helps us to believe and be strong and trust in ourselves and the way we play," he said. "I am so proud of my players and the performance and now we need to keep going. We have a lot of important games coming up, with Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday being the next. It's tough but we can compete."

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