Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Conte says Tottenham have a lesson to learn after narrowly avoiding a ‘disaster’ against Frankfurt

Antonio Conte admitted he was relieved to see his Tottenham side overcame a late lapse in concentration and took control of their Champions League destiny.

“It would have been a disaster if we had drawn a game like that,” Conte admitted after Spurs took a 3-1 lead from behind but held on to Eintracht Frankfurt’s 10-man side in the end.

“We have to stay focused until the end. We scored good goals. We have suffered. We had to try to deal with the situation. We had to stay in the game. We have to learn a lesson from that.’

Tottenham were lax in defense in the early stages as they made mistakes, including a heavy touch from Eric Dier in their own box that allowed Daichi Kamada to put Eintracht Frankfurt ahead.

They then stormed ahead before half-time with two goals from Son Heung-min and a penalty from Harry Kane after a foul on Son.

Eintracht was reduced to 10 men when their Brazilian defender Tuta was sent off for his second yellow card within minutes, but Conte’s side lost focus and conceded a second from a corner in the closing stages when the tie was broken by substitutions .

Then Kane missed the second penalty of the night that would have restored the two-goal cushion.

“I was a bit scared when we missed the penalty,” said Conte. “I thought anything can happen now.

“Pity about the last part. It was a really good performance but we have a big lesson to learn. Not just the players, but myself because I also tried to take advantage of this situation and bring calm to the players and those who had a yellow card.

“Everyone thought it was over, even the fans. But the game ends with the final whistle. We made a big mistake. We conceded a corner and they scored, then we had an opportunity to score and we missed the penalty.

“There was a positive aspect and then there was a negative aspect, but for us it will be a great achievement to go through to the next round because that was our goal.”

The win puts Tottenham at the top of a tight Group D and they will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Sporting in their Champions League game at home in two weeks time.

“It was a tough moment, the last 10 minutes,” said Torheld Son. “You never know what’s going to happen in the Champions League. It’s hard and uncomfortable to sit on the bench and see your team-mates suffer, but the most important thing is that we got three points.”

In between, the Spurs produced some of their best attacking football games of the season.

“They have brutal qualities,” said Eintracht captain Sebastian Rode. “They took advantage of every free situation. We couldn’t handle it.’

Son’s second goal was a wonderful goal, volleyed into the net after a brilliant run and a cross from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

“There was only one chance to volley with my left foot,” Son said. “I hit it really clear and luckily the ball went inside and I’m very happy.”

His first was another link with Kane, who provided the pass to mark their 50th scoring combination in all competitions.

“It’s a good relationship, there’s no secret,” Son said. “It’s all hard work and dedication.

“The results give us a boost. It’s an important week to keep positive things. There is always something we can improve. We have to improve because we have another great game at the weekend.”

Tottenham meet Everton at home on Saturday, the second in a key sequence of four home games in two weeks, both sides of a trip to Manchester United next week.

Conte said Richarlison got away with a knee problem but hoped it was “nothing serious”.

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