DORTMUND, Germany: Mauricio Pochettino heaped praise on Harry Kane as the England striker became Tottenham Hotspur’s top scorer in Europe and fired them into the Champions League quarterfinals. Kane’s second-half goal at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday put Spurs in the last eight after sealing a 1-0 last-16, return leg win to clinch a 4-0 aggregate victory. It was Kane’s 24th European goal — his 14th in the Champions League added to 10 in the Europa League — to take him past Jermain Defoe’s tally of 23.
“I’m so happy for him, you all know how I feel about him — he’s one of the best strikers in the world,” said Pochettino.
Kane was not the only Spurs player to reach a key milestone at Dortmund as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris kept his 100th clean sheet.
“I want to congratulate Kane and Lloris too, because that was his 100th clean sheet for Tottenham, which is fantastic for him too,” added Pochettino.
“Hugo was great. We conceded more chances than we expected, but this type of game, when you beat them 3-0 in the first leg, is very difficult — they have nothing to lose.”
This is the first time Tottenham are in the last eight of the Champions League since 2010/11 when they bowed out 5-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid.
Pochettino said he received a single-word message from Spurs chairman Daniel Levy — “congratulations”.
Having beaten Dortmund 3-0 at Wembley in the first leg, Pochettino hinted Spurs could be back at the new White Hart Lane for the quarterfinals, due to be held in mid-April.
“I feel very proud, I am very happy for our players,” said the Argentinian.
“Tonight, it was an unbelievable effort, I’m proud for the fans and for the club.
“It’s been a very particular season with a lot of circumstance, so to be in the quarterfinal is a fantastic, I think this will be one to remember.
“It’s a massive achievement for the team.”
In the build-up, Pochettino demanded Spurs “finish the job” after a substantial lead from the Wembley leg.
‘More nights like this’
His side delivered, soaking up everything Dortmund threw at them in a one-sided first half before Kane’s goal just after the break killed off the hosts’ spirited challenge.
“This is a huge step, but we have to keep growing and we need more nights like this,” said Kane.
However, despite a mature performance, Pochettino denied suggestions his team had proved they can step up at this level.
“To move to the next level, it’s not just about being professional today, we need to do more,” he said.
“You need more than just reaching the quarterfinals.
“After the first leg result, you could see the risks Dortmund took.
“When you have the possibility to reach the quarterfinals, but everyone thinks the job is done, it’s so dangerous.
“It was the first time we faced this type of situation, we had a tough first half an hour, we started to play a bit and we did well to score after the break.
“If you look over the two legs, we deserved to win — we scored four goals and didn’t concede any goals.”
After his first half-heroics in goal, Spurs goalkeeper Lloris said the Premier League side do not want to stop now in Europe.
“As expected they pushed hard for the first half an hour, we stayed strong together thanks to the team spirit,” said Lloris.
“Now we can enjoy, because it is a big achievement — we don’t want to stop.” — AFP