Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says 'embarrassing' late goal doesn't spoil win
BRIGHTON -- Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino praised his players' spirit after they repelled a series of set pieces at Brighton & Hove Albion and ended a three-match losing run with a 2-1 victory despite conceding a late goal.
Harry Kane converted a penalty while Erik Lamela came off the bench to double Spurs' lead, and Pochettino was pleased with his side's determined defending -- apart from the moment when they allowed Anthony Knockaert to break away and score in the 93rd minute.
"The spirit we showed today is the spirit I wanted to see in all the games," he said. "I am happy with the attitude, spirit. I think that pleases me the most.
"We know we have great quality, great players who can play great football. I think in some periods we played so well and we dominated the game.
"We deserved in the end the victory. We played some very good football and apart from the last minute which was a little bit embarrassing with the late goal, the performance was great.
"It's good that it happens and you win, but to concede a goal like we did was a very bad feeling. But of course the players were suffering a lot, the pressure was high and they wanted to deliver a very good result for the fans, for themselves and for us.
"I think we need to be pleased and congratulate them because the effort was massive after the Inter Milan defeat."
Spurs had conceded four goals from set pieces in their previous three matches but stopped that sequence on the south coast.
"I think we played against a Brighton team who are in the past few weeks, or maybe since the beginning of the season, the best team in set pieces," said Pochettino. "They are so strong and they work so hard in that aspect.
"In the few days previously we worked less [on the pitch] but we worked a lot on the video. That showed that it's all about mentality, being aggressive. I think today the team was fantastic in the way they defended."
Pochettino was also delighted with the performance of his No. 3 goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, who made only his second appearance for the club in the absence of both Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm, who suffered a knee injury in training on Friday.
"For me Paulo Gazzaniga was man of the match," said Pochettino. "He was fantastic, fantastic because of the energy that he translates to the team and his personality, his character, because he [only] knew today that he was going to play.
"It is so difficult to play that way, and with the conditions of the pitch, the weather -- windy, it was raining. I think for me he was man of the match.
"Maybe he didn't make an unbelievable save, I don't know who was [named] man of the match, but for me he deserved to be and I said 'well done' to him on the pitch at the end, because the energy and feeling he translated to the team was very calm and relaxed. 'I am going to protect you' -- that is the message he sent. That is why I am so happy with him.
"I don't believe Michel is going to be ready for Wednesday [against Watford in the Carabao Cup]. But in our mind was to give him [Gazzaniga] the cup game of course. That was the plan before what happened with Michel."
Kane scored his first goal in five matches for club and country, while carrying more of a threat than in previous matches, and Pochettino said: "Always, for me, Harry is one of the best. He is one of best players in our team. I don't have doubt.
"It's always a guarantee to have him on the pitch because he's a special player. For me he's a great player, not today because he scored. When he didn't score in the past it was the same."