Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas admits each goal conceded at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the 4-1 defeat to Inter Milan felt like a “knife in the back”. In the end, Tottenham Hotspur did qualify for the quarterfinal stage of the Europa League, but only because of more away goals.
Andre Villas-Boas and Co. travelled to San Siro confident about picking another win after destroying Inter Milan 3-0 at the White Hart Lane in the first leg. However, Tottenham Hotspur’s shaky start to the game got worse and at the final whistle they were three goals down to the Italian side, which resulted in an aggregate of 3-3.
The match headed towards extra time where Tottenham Hotspur scored first through Emmanuel Adebayor. Inter Milan’s goal came through Ricardo Alvarez, but their progress in the tournament was halted at the final whistle since Tottenham Hotspur had scored the advantageous away goal.
“Every goal was a boost of motivation for them and knife in the back for us,” Andre Villas-Boas said after the game. “When the mind does not work, everything becomes a catastrophe.
“What happened to us tonight was what happened to Inter in London. They are not as bad as their performance in London and we're not as a bad as the performance showed today.
“I didn't underestimate the task we had and I don't think the players did either. We gambled to get the away goal and it was difficult in the end. This was a great lesson for us and something we can learn from.
“I always believed in my players. The desire to reach the last eight of the competition was always there, even in extra-time and that has to be an excellent sign for us. We have played teams like Lazio, Lyon and Inter. It's fantastic satisfaction and achievement to be in the quarters.”
Andre Villas-Boas refused to criticize Tottenham Hotspur skipper and defender William Gallas, who scored an own-goal, for his side’s dismissive performance. The Spurs boss admitted it had been a disastrous night, but his men needed to remain positive before the weekend’s Premier League clash against Fulham.
“We have responded well to the Thursday and Sunday fixtures this season and we have to try and do the same again,” Andre Villas-Boas said. “We have players who did not play tonight who can come in, but I have no doubt about the fitness of my players.”