Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham proved they can compete with the European elite after losing 2-1 at home to Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League last 16.
The result at White Hart Lane sealed a 5-1 loss on aggregate for Spurs, who fail to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s second-tier tournament for the third consecutive year.
The tie was all-but over as a contest following last week’s 3-0 defeat in Germany but Tottenham restored some pride during a closer second leg.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang extinguished any slim hopes of a comeback for the home side with a stunning early strike and the Gabon forward scored another in the second half before Son Heung-min added a consolation.
Spurs may have to face teams of similar quality to Dortmund more regularly next year if they qualify for the Champions League and Pochettino believes his players are ready to step up.
“I am disappointed because we are out of the Europa League but we need to take the positives,” Pochettino said.
“We learn a lot from this tie. We play against a team at Champions League level and for that we take positives.
“In the first leg we didn’t play well, we didn’t compete how we normally compete, but today from the beginning of the game we showed we can compete at this level.”
Pochettino rested key players again, starting Harry Kane on the bench and leaving Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele and Kyle Walker out of the squad completely, with Bournemouth to come in the league on Sunday.
Eric Dier did start, and looked to be struggling with an injury late on, while Ben Davies was forced off early in the match after a nasty collision with Hugo Lloris.
Davies was allowed to continue for five minutes by Tottenham’s medical staff before the full-back finally decided to come off.
“Ben is okay now,” Pochettino said. “We need to assess him for concussion in the next few days.
“He got a knock in his face and after the knock he came into the pitch again, started to feel dizzy and we took him off as a precaution.”
On Dier, Pochettino added: “He has a knock but we hope he will be okay for the weekend.”
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