Tottenham vs Ajax: Pochettino blames slow Spurs start on fatigue as early goal proves difference in semi-final first leg

Yahoo Sport UK
Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

Mauricio Pochettino hinted Tottenham’s defeat to West Ham contributed to their Champions League defeat to Ajax.

The Spurs boss previously criticised the ‘unfair’ decision for Eredivisie clubs to have a break while the north Londoners were forced to play a league match ahead of their crunch European tie.

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They subsequently lost 1-0 at home to the Hammers and that seemed to impact Spurs on the night of their big semi-final first leg, as a poor opening 30 minutes saw them concede the only goal of the game.

And Pochettino echoed his own thoughts that fatigue led to Tottenham’s lethargic start to the game.

He told BT Sport: “I think the first half we started really in not a good way.

“My feeling is that they (Ajax) were more reactive, they showed more energy than us in the first half. It was difficult for us to play.

“I think it was our lack of energy from the beginning, our approach, it made our game difficult.

READ MORE: Van de Beek strikes to help Ajax earn crucial lead against Tottenham in Champions League semi-final

READ MORE: Christian Eriksen slates Tottenham as Spurs fall to defeat in Champions League semi-final first leg

“After we conceded the goal, after 25-30 minutes, we started to be in the game. After the injury of (Jan) Vertonghen, (Moussa) Sissoko provided the team with good energy, we started to play better.”

Tottenham talisman Vertonghen was forced off the pitch after a horrific clash of heads with Toby Alderweireld.

The imposing centre-back was left with a bloodied face and seemed to suffer from delayed concussion after attempting to play on.

Pochettino does not have an update on the defender, who was not believed to have gone to hospital.

But the enforced change of system, the manager admitted, helped his side.

“In the second half we started to push them. It was an even game in the second half,” he added.

“We are alive, we’re only 1-0 down, we need to believe.

“Of course, watching now the game, I can accept it was a mistake maybe to start in the shape that we used, but we did not have too much option to play today.

“You cannot guess if we play with different shape we play in different way. I think it was our lack of energy, it was a little bit sloppy.

“If you analyse the goal it think we were so sloppy conceding a very poor goal.”

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