Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino: ‘I never said it was impossible’

• Late equaliser puts Spurs into last 16 of Champions League
• Spurs should be able to play ties at new ground

Mauricio Pochettino could look forward to the prospect of Champions League football at Tottenham’s new stadium, after his team drew 1-1 with Barcelona on a tumultuous night to qualify for the last 16. Tottenham were helped out by the score in the other Group B tie – Inter’s home draw with PSV Eindhoven. They had needed to match Inter’s result.

The first legs of the last 16 are scheduled for 12-13 February or 19-20 February, with the returns on 5-6 March or 12-13 March. Tottenham hope to have moved into their delayed £1bn new ground by early February, at the latest. They will play at home in the first leg.

“I am so happy, so proud,” Pochettino said. “To see the celebrations inside [the dressing-room] – it was the first time we feel something special. The connection was amazing. After the 2-2 draw in Eindhoven, no one believed in us. All said Mission: Impossible. But we are here.

“I always said anything is possible in football if you have faith and quality. I never said it was impossible. To have the idea to play the next stage in the new stadium is a massive boost for everyone at the club. I hope we can build on something special now over the rest of the season. The club deserves it and the fans deserve it.”

When Inter equalised for 1-1 in the 73rd minute and Spurs trailed 1-0, Spurs were on the way out. But the substitute Lucas Moura came up with the late equaliser and they squeezed through.

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“It was difficult to manage the last 10 minutes,” Pochettino said. “The players who came on as substitutes knew the result in Inter but you must win the game and try to score the second goal. Yet if you concede and lose 2-1 to Barcelona, we would be talking in a different way. We suffered because when we finished the game, we did not know the result at Inter. It was two very difficult minutes but in the end we were so happy.”


David Hytner at Camp Nou

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