Spurs boss blasts team for lacking aggression

ATHENS • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino accused his players of "not respecting the plan" after they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 away to Olympiakos in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

The visitors looked in control after 30 minutes following Harry Kane's penalty and Lucas Moura's superb strike, but Olympiakos hit back before half-time through Daniel Podence.

Spurs then conceded a penalty which Mathieu Valbuena converted in the 54th minute.

With Bayern Munich up next, Tottenham, who made a surprise run to last season's final, missed a great opportunity to put themselves in a strong position in Group B.

It is the second time Tottenham have allowed a two-goal lead to slip this season after also drawing 2-2 at Arsenal in the Premier League.

"I feel very disappointed. First half I wasn't happy with our performance," Pochettino said.

"From the beginning we had a plan. We didn't respect the plan. I told the players at half-time. We scored two goals but if you only analyse the performance it wasn't great.

"We conceded a lot of chances to them and the first goal was painful. We didn't show the aggression these games demand."

It was a strange display by Tottenham, who appeared to be playing in second gear at times and failed to show the ruthless streak needed to see out games in Europe.

Since scoring a last-gasp winner at Fulham in the Premier League in January, Tottenham have managed just two victories on the road - both in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.

No team have conceded more Champions League goals (21) than Tottenham since the start of last season.

"At this level you need to match your opponents. That is the first demand," Pochettino said. "It's not about tactics or quality players but the level of fight. You need to match the opponents in aggressiveness, excitement, motivation."

In Group C, Manchester City delivered a comfortable performance in a 3-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk, with goals coming from Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2019, with the headline 'Spurs boss blasts team for lacking aggression'. Print Edition | Subscribe