Tottenham captain Michael Dawson believes it was “a cruel, cruel night” for both players and the fans as Spurs crashed out of the Europa League, losing on penalties to FC Basel.
In a drama filled match that consisted of a brace from Tottenham forward Clint Dempsey, who opened the scoring and eqaulised to force extra time, it was the Swiss side that prevailed and booked their place in the semi-finals.
Goals from Mohamed Salah and Aleksander Dragovic, in between Dempsey’s efforts, meant the game was all level after the two legs forcing extra time. In this Spurs would have to play with 10 men as defender Jan Vertonghen was sent off just before the end of normal time.
Then despite their gallant efforts, which took the game to a penalty shootout, spot misses from Tom Huddelstone and Emmanuel Adebayor meant Basel came out the victors after successfully dispatching all their penalties.
Following the result Dawson spoke about his disappointment in not being able to send travelling fans home happy.
According to UEFA he said: “It's a cruel, cruel night but that's football, that one has to win and one has to lose. After going down to ten men late on in the 90 minutes, we dug in and fought well during extra time and that's credit to the team, because we were the underdogs coming here after the first leg performance that we put in.
“We're all devastated that we haven't gone through to the semi-finals. We were feeling confident going into penalties – we've been practicing and I believed in the boys. Tom stepped up and you have to give their goalkeeper [Sommer] credit because it's an excellent save and that can set the tone. But that's football.
“We wanted to win the competition – the manager has said that since day one but it wasn't to be. Our fans that travelled out here were fantastic – they stayed until the end, they were cheering and unfortunately, we weren't able to send them home happy.”
Tottenham goalscorer Dempsey also spoke about his disappointment with the result but added that it will encourage them to finish strong in the fight for a top four league place.
He said: “We were disappointed that we conceded the first goal in the way that we did and the second one, from a set piece, is frustrating. But we showed a lot of character for our second goal and playing a man down during extra time to get to a penalty shoot-out. When it comes to that, anything can happen – we were unlucky.
“The legs were tired [at the end of extra time] so it was just about trying to rest as much as possible and have confidence and do the best with the shots that we had. But when you don't convert your penalties, it puts pressure on the next taker and in the end, we weren't able to stop any and we weren't able to score enough.
“Everybody's upset with the result but like at any time in life, when you get knocked down, you have to focus on the next thing in life and that's the league and finishing in the top four.”
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