Pochettino: Espanyol survival still 'my greatest joy' as coach

Goal.com
The former Tottenham striker admits the South Korean forward will be a big miss when banned for the first leg of a semi-final showdown with Ajax
The former Tottenham striker admits the South Korean forward will be a big miss when banned for the first leg of a semi-final showdown with Ajax

Mauricio Pochettino revealed his greatest joy as a coach was helping Espanyol avoid relegation, not Tottenham's incredible win over Manchester City.

Pochettino guided Spurs into the Champions League semi-finals after a remarkable second leg against City on Wednesday.

While his side were beaten 4-3, they advanced on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw.

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However, Pochettino said keeping Espanyol, the club he played for, in La Liga in 2008-09 during his first job as a coach was a happier moment.

"My greatest joy as a coach was in Almeria when we were saved [from relegation] because of what it meant to the whole Espanyol family," he told Spanish radio.

Fernando Llorente's 73rd-minute goal against City proved decisive, the effort standing despite a VAR review for a possible handball.

Even later drama was to come, Raheem Sterling denied a stoppage-time goal – initially given – due to an offside.

"When he scored, I looked like The Incredible Hulk," Pochettino said.

"I took off my jacket, I threw my sweater down [onto the ground] ... I sat down and then that's when they said that the VAR had disallowed it for offside.

"At that moment, I revived. The injection of energy was incredible."

The stunning late turnaround saw Spurs into just their second semi-final at the top level in Europe, with the first having come in 1961-62 under Bill Nicholson.  

They also become the seventh English side to make the Champions League last four, following Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Leeds as England overtake Spain for the most unique semi-finalists in the Champions League era. 

They will face giant-killers in the next round, with the Dutch club having already bounced defending champions Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus from the knockout rounds.  

Should they progress past the Dutch side, they’ll take on either Liverpool or Barcelona in the Champions League final on June 1 at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.  

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