Tottenham Hotspur finally rid of ‘Wembley curse’, says Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspurs’ 3-1 Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund was only their third win in 13 matches at Wembley and their first since moving into the English national stadium this season.Updated: Sep 14, 2017 16:23 IST
Tottenham’s 3-1 Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund has finally killed off their Wembley curse, believes Mauricio Pochettino.
Pochettino’s side opened their Group H campaign with an impressive display at their temporary Wembley home on Wednesday as Harry Kane’s double and a Son Heung-Min strike sealed the points.
It was only Tottenham’s third win in their last 13 matches at Wembley and their first since moving into the English national stadium this season while White Hart Lane is being redeveloped.
Having lost eight times at Wembley in recent years, including defeats against Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen that contributed to their Champions League exit last season, Tottenham boss Pochettino knew it was essential his team got up and running at the first attempt this time.
“I hope that can help us to stop the talk of the hoodoo and everything. It’s fantastic to start well in the competition, but also to stop everything that was around the team here,” he said.
“Today means more than three points. It’s Wembley, it’s the perception that we had to change for our future.
“To win here is so important for our confidence, for the players and the fans, and the perception of what we can do in the future.”
After last season’s tame performances in Europe’s elite club competition, Tottenham are desperate to make the knockout stages this term and on this evidence they look up to the task.
Son put them ahead early on and, although Andriy Yarmolenko equalised for Dortmund, Kane produced two typically predatory finishes to make it four goals in two games for the England striker.
Pochettino believes Tottenham are beginning to learn the harsh lessons of last year’s flop.
“It was a fantastic performance. It was massive to start that way with three points,” he said.
“It was so important to get the points against a fantastic team like Dortmund. It’s massive for our confidence.
“They dominated the game, but we were very clinical. In the second half we increased our level and the game was under control.
“When you don’t dominate the game, you can still show different characteristics.”
Kane’s brace maintained his strong start to September, which also includes two goals for England, and backed his claim this week that he is ready to shine on Europe’s biggest stages.
Pochettino has no doubt Kane is already among the top strikers in the tournament.
“Harry was fantastic,” he said. “When you score goals in the Champions League you receive the credit you deserve. For me he is one of the best strikers in the world.”
The only frustration for Pochettino was the late red card for defender Jan Vertonghen after he caught Dortmund’s Mario Gotze in the face with his forearm.
“It wasn’t the intention of Jan, but we have to see the replays. It’s a little bit of a shame he received a red card,” Pochettino said.
After starting the season unbeaten in German domestic action, this was a major setback for Dortmund, who controlled possession for long periods, only to see two goals contentiously ruled out for offside.
Dortmund boss Peter Bosz was furious that Christian Pulisic’s strike, with the score at 2-1 to Spurs, was ruled out.
Asked if the goal should have stood, he said: “Yes, 100 percent. Christian scored a good goal but it didn’t count.
“We put them under pressure but they did the same to us.
“It’s only the first game. It’s not the end of the matter.
“The group is still open and we have to meet again in Dortmund.”
Bosz also revealed Gotze needed treatment on his teeth after the clash with Vertonghen and could be sidelined as a result.
“He’s got problems with his teeth and he has to go to the doctor today. It doesn’t look good with his teeth and that hurts us as well,” he said.
First Published: Sep 14, 2017 08:42 IST