Many Tottenham Hotspur fans were left surprised when Mauricio Pochettino decided to bench Lucas Moura for the Champions League final against Liverpool on Saturday.
The Brazilian was Tottenham’s hero in the previous round against Ajax. Playing up-front alongside Heung-min Son, the 26-year-old completed a magnificent hat-trick to win the tie for the North London club.
He scored the first two in the first 15 minutes after half-time, but with the final whistle just seconds away, he saved his third for the sixth minute of injury time.
However, he found himself out of Pochettino’s starting eleven at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium when the Spurs boss instead decided to bring Harry Kane back into the fold after nearly two months out with an ankle injury.
Moura was brought on as a substitute in the 66th minute for Harry Winks, but was unable to influence the game and was left in tears after the final whistle following Liverpool’s 2-0 victory saw them lift the trophy.
He told Le Figaro: “I was very, very sad. It is normal, I wanted to win. I really thought it was possible.
“I am sad but very proud of my teammates, my team. I think we had a wonderful season. It was not easy to reach the final.”
When asked about Pochettino’s decision to bench him, he added: “Of course I wanted to start but it is the coach’s decision.
“He must choose a starting XI, I must respect it. Most importantly, I was ready to play. I was on the bench thinking about what I could do to help the team.
“When I entered, I tried to do the best but it was not possible. It is football, you have to respect the coach.”
Lucas Moura oozes class and respect, he could have easily criticised his manager but for the good of the club he has publically backed Pochettino. He deserved to start the match following his performance in the semi-final, but hopefully, he can show more of his class next season.
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