Hugo Lloris suggested Tottenham had only themselves to blame for last night’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Sporting after a below-par first half, but says it is impossible to play at full intensity for 90 minutes during the current schedule.
Spurs thought they had booked a place in the Champions League knockout stage as group winners when Harry Kane scored in stoppage time but the goal was ruled out by the VAR for a fractional offside, leaving Antonio Conte incandescent.
The head coach was shown a red card for his protests and is set to be banned from the touchline for at least one match, depending on the content of referee Danny Makkelie’s report, which will be sent to UEFA today.
Conte described the decision as an “injustice”, accused VAR of doing “great damage” to the game and suggested the video official would not have been brave enough to make the same call against “a big team”.
Lloris, though, says his side paid the price for a sloppy first half, in which former Spurs player Marcus Edwards fired Sporting ahead, but was encouraged by their performance after the interval, when Rodrigo Bentancur equalised.
“There are two ways to reflect about the game,” the Spurs captain told Standard Sport. “The one I prefer is to say if we had played the first half in the same way as the second — with the same energy, with the same willingness to go forward, to press the opponent and be very dominant — probably the score would have been different.
“The other way to reflect on the game is the goal disallowed in the last minute. Everyone can have their own opinion about the decision and the action.
“We don’t want to give up and I liked the response of the team in the second half. The last two games had referee decisions which were not on our side, but we will carry on until the World Cup break.
“Even if we have to suffer, we have to go through and to finish. Like every team, playing every three days you cannot play 90 minutes with intensity, so you miss 20 to 30 minutes in a game.
“[In that period] we have to be more cautious and try to avoid conceding chances. But that is high-level football. It is just a period we have to deal with and go through and hopefully we will finish this period with better feelings.”
Spurs will likely need a victory at Marseille next Tuesday to finish as group winners, but a draw would be enough to see them qualify and possibly win the group if Sporting and Eintracht Frankfurt also draw. Spurs will be eliminated with a defeat in France, regardless of the result in the other game.
Lloris believes the match will have the feel of a final and says Spurs must play smart to be sure of reaching the last-16.
“It is going to be like a final,” he said. “Even if we have a small advantage, because with a draw it will be enough to go through. We need to use our head but also play with your feelings and heart and go with everything, because every detail matters.”