In Depth

Champions League: Pochettino fumes at Tottenham’s lack of fight

Sloppy Spurs share the spoils with Olympiakos and Man City cruise to victory against Shakhtar Donetsk

Uefa Champions League group B Olympiakos 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Tottenham Hotspur squandered a two-goal lead against Olympiakos as the hosts fought back to draw 2-2 in the Champions League group B opener in Greece. 

Spurs were last season’s runners-up but the result and performance on Wednesday left Mauricio Pochettino fuming. 

“I feel very disappointed,” said the Tottenham manager. “From the beginning we had a plan and we didn’t respect the plan. That was what disappointed me the most.”

Flying start

Tottenham dominated the first half, and went ahead on 26 minutes when Harry Kane was felled by defender Yassine Meriah. The England striker slammed home the spot kick and four minutes later Lucas Moura’s emphatic strike doubled the visitors’ advantage.

But Spurs’ focus slipped on the stroke of half-time, allowing the Greeks to pull a goal back through winger Daniel Podence and they then got a penalty of their own on 54 minutes after Jan Vertonghen’s heavy challenge on Mathieu Valbuena.

He dusted himself down to beat Hugo Lloris from the spot and leave Kane rueing what might have been. 

England captain Kane said: “We put ourselves in a great position, after that we controlled the game but conceding a goal before half time changed the momentum.” 

Toothless

Pochettino also accused his players of a lack of mental strength. The Argentine said: “It’s not about tactics, it’s not about quality players, it’s about the quality of preparing yourself to be ready to fight. 

“When we are not showing that intensity that the competition demands we struggle. We are not talking about quality. We’re talking about being focused, concentrated, aggressive, anticipating the action.”

Shakhtar Donetsk 0 Manchester City 3 Uefa Champions League group C 

For the third consecutive season Man City and Shakhtar find themselves in the same Champions League pool, and events in the Ukraine followed a similar pattern last night - an easy win for the Premier League champions. 

City have lost just once to Shakhtar in five encounters, and victory seemed certain once Riyad Mahrez put the visitors ahead on 24 minutes. Ilkay Gundogan added a second shortly before half-time and Gabriel Jesus made it 3-0 in the second half as City kept a clean sheet against Shakhtar for a fourth match.

But for Dinamo Zagreb’s 4-0 thrashing of Italian side Atalanta in Croatia, City would be top of group C but nonetheless it was the perfect way to banish memories of Saturday’s shock Premier League defeat to Norwich. 

“We defended really well and we created chances,” said City manager Pep Guardiola. “To start with three points away is so important, it is in our hands to reach the last 16.” 

Asked if the 3-2 defeat to Norwich had shaken his squad’s morale, the Spaniard replied: “We lost one game in eight months and we will not doubt who these players are. It’s a joy to be their manager.”

Next matches

Matchday two of the group stage on Tuesday 1 October will see Spurs take on German giants Bayern Munich at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Man City host Dinamo Zagreb at the Etihad Stadium.

All Champions League matches are live on the BT Sport network.

Today’s back pages

‘Weak tragedy’ for Spurs

Champions League results 

Matchday one 
  • Group A: Club Brugge 0 Galatasaray 0; Paris Saint Germain 3 Real Madrid 0 
  • Group B: Olympiakos 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2; Bayern Munich 3 Red Star Belgrade 0 
  • Group C: Dinamo Zagreb 4 Atalanta 0; Shakhtar Donetsk 0 Manchester City 3 
  • Group D: Atlético Madrid 2 Juventus 2; Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1 Lokomotiv Moscow 2
  • Group E: FC Red Bull Salzburg 6 KRC Genk 2; Napoli 2 Liverpool 0  
  • Group F: Inter Milan 1 Slavia Prague 1; Borussia Dortmund 0 Barcelona 0 
  • Group G: Lyon 1 Zenit St Petersburg 1; Benfica 1 RB Leipzig 2 
  • Group H: Ajax 3 Lille 0; Chelsea 0 Valencia 1

Champions League fixtures: matchday two

Tuesday 1 October 
  • Group A: Real Madrid vs. Club Brugge (5.55pm); Galatasaray vs. Paris Saint Germain (8pm) 
  • Group B: Red Star Belgrade vs. Olympiakos; Tottenham Hotspur vs. Bayern Munich (8pm) 
  • Group C: Atalanta vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (5.55pm); Manchester City vs. Dinamo Zagreb (8pm)  
  • Group D: Juventus vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (8pm); Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Atlético Madrid (8pm)
Wednesday 2 October
  • Group E: KRC Genk vs. Napoli (5.55pm); Liverpool vs. FC Red Bull Salzburg (8pm)  
  • Group F: Slavia Prague vs. Borussia Dortmund (5.55pm); Barcelona vs. Inter Milan (8pm) 
  • Group G: RB Leipzig vs. Lyon (8pm); Zenit St Petersburg vs. Benfica (8pm)  
  • Group H: Lille vs. Chelsea (8pm); Valencia vs. Ajax (8pm)

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