Pochettino insists Tottenham deserve to remain in the FA Cup

Image: SpursWeb

auricio Pochettino insists his Tottenham side were not lucky to remain in the FA Cup as Harry Kane’s controversial late penalty earned a third-round replay against Leicester.

Kane had started the match on the bench at White Hart Lane but was called upon as the Foxes looked to be on course for another famous victory in their impressive season.

Christian Eriksen had fired the hosts ahead on eight minutes before Marcin Wasilewski levelled and substitute Shinji Okazaki struck moments after coming on to turn the game – only for Kane to thrash home an 89th minute penalty, and his 50th Tottenham goal, to secure a 2-2 draw.

Nathan Dyer conceded the untimely spot-kick having been adjudged to have handled the ball as Danny Rose broke into the Leicester penalty area and Kane, who had not had a chance until that point, emphatically finished to set up a replay.

It means Tottenham and Leicester will meet three times inside a fortnight as next week’s replay is preceded by a Barclays Premier League clash between the pair on Wednesday night.

Asked if his side were lucky to get a replay, Pochettino replied: “Lucky? No. You must never give up.

“I didn’t see if it was or not. But sometimes the decisions are for you sometimes they are against you. If I watch it again I can give a better opinion.

“It’s true we are happy and very pleased to get the draw at the end. It’s important for us to stay alive in the competition. But if we analyse, the first half, we deserved more. We dominated the whole game. But I’m happy. The performance was good. We have another chance.”

Both sides made wholesale changes as Tottenham made seven alterations to Leicester’s eight – with Kane only on the Spurs bench and his fellow England forward Jamie Vardy not involved for the Foxes after recent minor groin surgery.

The replay adds to an already congested month of fixtures but Pochettino has backed his squad to prove its strength in depth as they embark on an important January.

“It is tough for us and tough for them (Leicester),” he added.

“We need to be strong in our mind. We have a strong squad. Today showed that those not playing in the first team can fight for a place.

“It’s complicated. It’s tough to play Premier League, Europa League and cups. But it’s for that we have a very strong squad and we made seven changes.

“We need to keep fit all the players, and motivated. It’s a good thing to compete and that the squad believes everyone can compete for a consistent place in the team.”

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri handed a debut to recent signing Demarai Gray in a much-changed side and said he is looking forward to the replay so he can give more minutes to those fringe players who came into the team here.

“Of course we are frustrated because our second half was very good, we were very calm and defended very well,” he said.

“It is another match we will play and I’m very glad to give another chance to my eight players who aren’t used to playing consistently.

“It is is good for them and me to watch again because they didn’t play since the last match we played in the League Cup. Eight new players (in the team) but I didn’t see a big difference. They played very, very well.”

Another trip to north London on Wednesday could see Leicester finish the evening top of the table, with current leaders Arsenal facing a tricky trip to Liverpool.

Ranieri is hopeful of having top goalscorer Vardy back for a game he believes, despite another mass change in personnel, could be similar to the two draws played out by the teams so far this season.

“Today he was I think 50/50,” Ranieri said of Vardy’s fitness.

“He made some training with the physio, tomorrow he starts with us in the warm-up and Tuesday we will do the last training session and if he is okay, he will play.

“It will be another kind of match with the normal players from me and Mauricio. Every match is different but more or less they will play the same way but with other players and we play more or less the same way with other players.”

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