Mauricio Pochettino happy with Tottenham's points haul in Champions League
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 06/12/17 11:56pm
Mauricio Pochettino has hailed Tottenham's "fantastic achievement" of earning more points in the Champions League group stage than any other team this season.
Spurs beat Apoel Nicosia 3-0 at Wembley on Wednesday night to finish the group stage on 16 points from a possible 18, a tally unmatched by any other side in the competition.
The last two English sides to get this many points at this stage have gone on to reach the final (Arsenal in 2005/06 and Manchester United in 2007/08), but Pochettino is staying grounded.
"It's a fantastic achievement for this team but it's still a long way to the final," he said. "We need to wait until the end of February to play again and we need to see the draw.
"I hope we keep our level but the motivation to play in the best competition in the world is massive, so of course we're going to try and win every game and try to go as far as we can."
This time last season Spurs had fallen at the first hurdle and ended up in the Europa League, but a superb campaign this time around has seen them finish above Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
Pochettino did admit, however, that Champions League exertions had taken their toll in the Premier League. Spurs currently find themselves sixth in the table, 18 points behind leaders Manchester City and without a win in four.
"It's a massive change and the feeling is completely different, last season we were so disappointed with how we played and how difficult it was to compete in the Champions League," said Pocchettino.
"This season we've improved and it's a massive step for us. But we have spent a lot of energy in different games which may have affected us a little bit in the Premier League. Now we need to focus on the Premier League and win games there."
Spurs had already secured top spot in their group heading into the game on Wednesday night, and Pochettino made a host of changes to his side and gave fringe players such as Fernando Llorente and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou a chance to shine, and they both got on the scoresheet.
"I'm so happy with the performance tonight," said Pochettino. "It's great for different players to have the opportunity to play and show their qualities as it's important for a competitive squad by putting pressure on the players who play more regularly.
"We have a very busy period ahead and having more players with confidence who can compete for a place in the starting XI can help the team a lot."
Pochettino also singled out Llorente for individual praise, after the striker scored his first goal for the club and set up the second goal for Heung-Min Son.
"I'm very pleased because it was so important for him as a striker to find the net," said the Spurs boss. "Players always need time to adapt to the qualities of the team and when you arrive at a new team with little opportunity to play it's difficult to get fit and find your best level.
"It was important for many players who wait to get 90 minutes. It's different to playing 30 or 20 minutes and it's good that they feel they can cope with 90. He's so happy now and with more confidence and belief he'll help the team a lot."