Cristian Stellini pinpoints key failing that sparked Tottenham defeat to Wolves: ‘We were not so nasty’

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Tottenham stand-in boss Cristian Stellini says his team were not “nasty” enough and lacked a killer instinct in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Wolves.

Spurs blew the chance to open up a seven-point gap in fourth place and compounded the frustration of their midweek FA Cup defeat as Adama Traore's late goal proved decisive at Molineux.

Spurs twice struck the crossbar through Pedro Porro and Heung-min Son, while Jose Sa made a string of saves with Spurs goalkeeper Fraser Forster also busy.

Stellini blamed his side's “mentality” for the FA Cup fifth-round loss at Sheffield United but said it was their cutting edge that was the problem in the Black Country.

“I think the mentality today was good,” he said. “It is a lesson we have to learn because when you start the game and you control the game, you have to kill the game. This is a lesson we have to learn today.

“The performance was good, particularly in the first half when we controlled the game in every aspect. We had some chances to score. We were not so nasty in the way to score. When you have a chance like this, you have to kill the game. The game was under control but then in second half we struggled a bit at the start but after 10 minutes we adapted to the situation and we controlled the game.

“We had another chance with Sonny that hit the bar. After that I think they had some intensity in the game, winning some offensive duels and that create a situation where we struggle a bit and the game changed, but they found a way to score and we didn't. This is the history of the game.

“They have to find this solution during every game but today was not the lucky day that you shot on target the first and you score. We needed maybe more chances but when you have five, you need to score one.”

Spurs controlled the opening hour or so but Wolves came back into the game, with head coach Julen Lopetegui having used all five of his substitutes by the 67th minute.

By contrast, Stellini, who was liaising with absent head coach Antonio Conte during the match, did not make a change until the introduction of Lucas Moura in 77th minute - something he insisted was not an issue.

“No, the team needed only five minutes to adapt,” he said. “We were playing well, and the pace and we controlled the game. There wasn't reason to change. We changed because there was a reason to change - because we needed more energy and to interrupt their pace in the game - but only one detail changed the story of the game.”

Conte was watching the game from Italy but is expected back at Hotspur Way on Sunday after a period spent recuperating from gallbladder surgery at home.

“Antonio will be a massive boost for us from tomorrow until the end of the season,” Stellini said. “It is important that Antonio is back. We want to have him back with a different result but the team showed to Antonio it is alive. They want to win, they want to control the game, they want to dominate the game and this is important I think.”